There is no need to tell the majority of compatriots that the word "fraer" in Russian refers to criminal jargon. However, not everyone understands what it really means, as well as where and when this word came into the Russian language. The fact is that behind this simple word there is a whole history and millions of human destinies. And not only from among the representatives of the criminal element.
"The music did not play for long, the fraer danced for a short time." The mysterious criminal word "fraer" today means a naive, overly trusting and / or outright stupid person who can be easily deceived, robbed, robbed. Also, in criminal slang, this word can be used in the meaning of "fool". The word "fraer" entered thieves' jargon back in the 19th century. In the middle of the 20th century, the word "sucker", which is very close to fraer in meaning, will begin to supplant it in the domestic criminal lexicon.
Like many other thieves' words, "fraer" was not at all invented from scratch. In fact, it was simply borrowed from Yiddish (the language of European Jews), from which in turn it could have come from German (other scholars argue that it also got into German from the Hebrew language). Suffice it to mention that in Germany "der Freier" is a completely normal word that is outdated and denotes a young man, a groom.
In Yiddish, the word "fraer" actually has the same meaning as in German. It is noteworthy that in the criminal environment of the 19th century, fraer was not used in an exclusively derogatory manner. Initially, they "called names" young and inexperienced people involved in criminal cases. The word was circulating in the port cities of the southern and western parts of the Russian Empire, where most of “our people” were concentrated from outside the borders of Jewish settlement (the border where Jews were forcibly resettled).
Like any other national minority, the Jews had their own organized criminal groups, whose shadow business was reduced primarily to theft, smuggling, as well as covering up all kinds of indecent deeds like prostitution and begging. The brightest example of the center of domestic crime was already then Odessa - the southern gate of the empire. At all times, in a natural way, the port city became a hotbed of crime.
Jewish criminals did not exist in a vacuum, but actively interacted in a variety of ways with thieves and bandits of other nationalities. Moreover, the gangs themselves often did not have a pronounced national character. Therefore, at some point, the popular word entered the general thieves' turn. Gradually, the designation "fraer" began to acquire an increasingly derogatory character in criminal circles, although in colloquial and literary Yiddish the original meaning of the word has not changed to this day.
Continuing the topic, read about what is floating prisons: how warships and passenger ships became a haven for criminals.