Cambridge says:

forgo (v.) to not have or do something enjoyable:
I shall have to forgo the pleasure of seeing you this week.

So, can I use the verb forgo in this context?

For example, if one beats me and I don't want to beat him back, then can I say I 'forgo' him?

  • You don't forgo your enemy: you forgo retaliation. – Anton Sherwood Oct 30 '19 at 6:39

Can I say "I forgo him"?

You can't say that in this context. I also don't think we can "forgo" a person.

MW defines "forgo" as

to give up the enjoyment or advantage of : do without

In your case, what you are giving up is the enjoyment/satisfaction of beating that person to a pulp. You have decided to just walk away instead of indulging in retaliation. As Anton Sherwood mentioned, "You forgo retaliation".

However, I am not sure if you can even use "forgo" in that sense (i.e., I had to forgo the pleasure of beating him to a pulp). Correct me if I am wrong.

My reasoning is that to "forgo" something, you would need to have it in the first place or experienced it even if it was just one time.

Note how MW says "to give up..." in its definition. Unless you had fought this person (or any person) before and derived pleasure from it, I don't think you could say something like this: I had to forgo the pleasure of beating him to a pulp.

If you had never argued and won, you can't say "I had to forgo the pleasure of winning the argument and proving that he is a fool - because I care about him." because you have not experienced that pleasure/emotion before.

My reasoning is based on the fact that almost all examples in dictionaries use the term "forgo" when referring to something that one had possessed or had experienced.

She is planning to forgo her right to a trial and simply plead guilty. {She had that right until she decided to plead guilty}

I'll forgo dessert tonight—I'm trying to lose weight. {This person had desserts before}

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  • It would be super helpful if the downvoter said why they thought this answer was not useful. It would allow me to improve it or learn from it. – AIQ Nov 3 '19 at 20:32

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