By Urbycoz

2011-09-30 08:51:34 8 Comments

I believe it is what the Germans call "Schadenfreude". English itself has no such equivalent word. (Although it has been adopted as a loanword.)

Does an idiom exist that describes it?


@UberTod 2014-07-30 03:51:25

Currently, the newer idiom for deriving pleasure at others expense is lulz.

Often used to denote laughter at someone who is the victim of a prank, or a reason for performing an action. This variation is often used on the Encyclopedia dramatica wiki and 4chan image boards. According to a New York Times article about Internet trolling, "lulz means the joy of disrupting another's emotional equilibrium."

@Honza Zidek 2014-07-30 06:06:53

Could you add some references, source, meaning of the acronym?

@Honza Zidek 2014-07-30 06:22:02

As says: "Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better."

@Nike DiMattia 2013-11-03 12:34:19

Malicious enjoyment is a normal ego-produced feeling. When I was in school and I received a "B" in a test, I hated the "A"s but loved gloating at the "C"s. Politics and sports are full of schadenfreude. Often we gain from other's misfortunes and people who are run by their egos love to feel anything that will stroke the ego.

@Andrew Leach 2013-11-03 12:41:15

Welcome to ELU. Are you proposing malicious enjoyment as the answer to the question? If so, it's not bad; but that could be made clearer. SE is not a forum, it's a Q&A site.

@Rikon 2011-09-30 12:25:35

Though "Sadistic" carries a potential sexual inference (that one would actually derive sexual pleasure from another's suffering), this word is used frequently without implying the sexual element of it. It derives from The Marquis de Sade who was a real go-getter.

Of someone who delights in the pain of others; Of behaviour which gives pleasure in the pain of others

@Urbycoz 2011-09-30 14:00:10

The dictionary definition of "sadistic" does not mention anything sexual.

@Rikon 2011-09-30 14:12:33

THAT definition of sadistic didn't include anything sexual... If you'll click on the Sadistic link above you'll see the first definition of it is: "1.Deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others." I picked a definition further down the list that didn't include sexual gratification to show that it didn't have to be sexual.

@Mehper C. Palavuzlar 2011-09-30 09:19:01

The Wikipedia page includes the English equivalents of Schadenfreude.

  • Epicaricacy
  • Roman holiday
  • Morose delectation
  • Gloating
  • lulz

Little-used English words synonymous with schadenfreude have been derived from the Greek word epichairekakia (ἐπιχαιρεκακία). Nathan Bailey's 18th-century Universal Etymological English Dictionary, for example, contains an entry for epicharikaky that gives its etymology as a compound of ἐπί epi (upon), χαρά chara (joy), and κακόν kakon (evil). A popular modern collection of rare words, however, gives its spelling as "epicaricacy".

An English expression with a similar meaning is 'Roman holiday', a metaphor taken from the poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butcher'd to make a Roman holiday" while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering. The term suggests debauchery and disorder in addition to sadistic enjoyment.

Another phrase with a meaning similar to Schadenfreude is "morose delectation" ("delectatio morosa" in Latin), meaning "the habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts". The medieval church taught morose delectation as a sin. French writer Pierre Klossowski maintained that the appeal of sadism is morose delectation.

An English word of similar meaning is "gloating", where "gloat" is defined as "to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight" (gloat over an enemy's misfortune).

The internet slang term "lulz" (A variation of LOL) has acquired the connotation of fun or amusement at another person's expense, especially in regard to trolling behavior.

@sequoia mcdowell 2011-09-30 14:30:48

The problem here is that if you used any of these words (with the exception, perhaps, of "lulz," which doesn't correspond directly to schadenfreude), you'd have to explain that the word means... well, "schadenfreude." I can't see the point of finding an obscure, arcane synonym to use in place of a well known term. I like the article tho! :)

@oosterwal 2011-09-30 16:58:06

+1 - I think "gloat" is a verb that very accurately describes the noun "Schadenfreude."

@Jay 2011-12-21 21:25:54

"gloat" is a good general answers. Your other suggestions are pretty obscure, and I don't think most people would know what you meant. (And when I say "most people", I mean "me".)

@Raku 2011-09-30 09:07:11

I remember a Magic The Gathering card which had "Schadenfreude" in German and "Sadistic Glee" in English.

@Jay 2011-12-21 21:24:07

I'd never thought of Magic the Gathering cards as an authoritative source on English grammar and usage before! :-)

@Raku 2011-12-23 11:43:09

Haha, no, definitely not, but in this case they provided me with the best translation I know for "Schadenfreude" :-).

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