Word of the Day Im Kvar אִם כְּבָר

If you're going to do something, do it properly. Going to eat cake? Go for a luscious one.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

The Israeli food blog Hamtibah shel Sivan (Sivan's Kitchen) has a recipe headlined "Sinful chocolate cake, im kvar az kvar!!!" – a four-word idiom that is often shortened to the first two and literally means "If already, then already."

In other words, if you're already going to have chocolate cake, you may as well go all out and have a really good one made out of high-quality chocolate.

Depending on the context, this convenient expression covers the ground of several English idioms, like "go the whole hog," "in for a penny, in for a pound" and "might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb." If you're going to do something anyway, then do it all the way.

Unlike those English idioms, though, the Hebrew phrase can sometimes be broken up into parts that stand alone. Someone who wants to taste Sivan's sinful chocolate cake might say, "Well, I was thinking of starting my diet today but I already had pizza for lunch. Im kvar" In this context, it would be clear that those first two words stand in for the whole phrase and mean "load up my plate, please."

Elsewhere, though, the malleable im kvar can be the beginning of a different kind of conditional phrase that spells out exactly what should come before and after the "if." Take journalist Shahar Ilan's blog post on the recent reports about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having racked up a NIS 10,000 annual bill for pistachio and vanilla ice cream, which tells the reader that "Im kvar you're putting NIS 10,000 of state funds into ice cream there are a few spots in Jerusalem that are worth checking out" before heading to the same ice cream parlor Bibi prefers. In such a case, im kvar can mean "if you're already doing X" or "if you're doing X anyway," and is followed by "you may as well do Y."

To which I can only throw my own ice cream quirks into the mix: Im kvar you're going to be eating green ice cream, may as well make it mint.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

Im kvar you're going to succumb to that cake, do it properly. Eat a biiiig piece. You know you want to. Credit: Doram Gaunt
Pistachio ice cream: Im kvar try a few places before budgeting NIS 10,000 for it.Credit: Emil Salman

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