-11- Schadenfreude


Noun. From German.

“To derive pleasure from the suffering of others”


This is one of those words that many people say… or is often preceded by ‘What’s that word for that thing where people are happy when something bad happens?’ and then everyone else manages to find a use for that word in the same day, and then promptly forgetting it the day after.

Unlike other words so far on projectthreesixfive, this is classed in English as a loanword; one that has been adapted into English and that can be used in general speech. The only difference, however, is that in its native German, schadenfreude would be capitalised.

Upon researching this, it seems as though English is the odd one out when it comes to a word to describe this phenomemon (or the English don’t feel this emotion and thus don’t need a word for it (yeah, right (argh, too many paraentheses!))). Schadenfreude appears in several other langauges, albeit as calques:

  • Swedish – skadeglädje
  • Finnish – vahingonilo
  • Russian – злорадство (zlo’radstvo)

In fact, there is one word that is classed as ‘rare’ in English that has been designed to fit this meaning, however whether it is a true English word is still up for debate (it isn’t found in many Google searches or dictionaries, and there is no record of it on this very handy etymology site).

The word used is epicaricacy, and it comes from the joining of three Ancient Greek words:  ἐπί (epi – ‘upon’)  χάρις (kharis – ‘joy’) + κακός (kakos – ‘evil’).

So, there’s a lot more behind this word than a lot of people think. Consider that next time you start watching Fail Videos on Youtube and end up becoming a epicaricacist (and yes, I know that’s a made-up word).


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