• Carmen Milligan

Wednesday Word: Schadenfreude




  1. pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.

Schadenfreude is borrowed from German. It is a compound of Schaden, "damage, harm", and Freude, "joy". The German word was first mentioned in English texts in 1852 and 1867, and first used in English running text in 1895. In German, it was first attested in the 1740s.

This is a GREAT word! It is very human to feel happiness when someone experiences negativity. Some research says that it has been exhibited in 2-year-old toddlers. Eeeek! Even though it is a very natural emotion, it is nothing to be proud of. I remember a woman in my family found out that something bad had happened to some actress somewhere, I think divorce, and she was so thrilled. It was a little off-putting, her joyous reaction.

This is not a word that is easily worked into your vocabulary, but there is no mistaking it when you see it. And there is only word that truly defines it. Also, it is what is known as a "loanword", but that is another post for another time.

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