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Post by Archived Topic » Thu Feb 12, 2004 1:44 am

I believe I'm spelling it right but I'm not sure. It's a German word that means "shameful joy" like getting a kick out of seeing someone slip and fall on ice. Please let me know if I am spelling it right.

[Forum admin: This posting was originally titled 'Scheidenfreud'. The German words Scheide and Freude mean respectively 'vagina' and 'joy'.]
Submitted by David Roberts (Madison - U.S.A.)

I believe there is a word (German origin?)which means "taking pleasure in the misfortune of others" - anyone know the word? I can't recall.
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Post by Archived Reply » Thu Feb 12, 2004 1:58 am

David, this could be what you are after.

Schadenfreude, a German word meaning malicious joy, malicious glee, gloating.

What will you do with this word?
Reply from Richard Hollingdrake (Brisbane - Australia)
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Post by Archived Reply » Thu Feb 12, 2004 2:13 am

Yes be sure to take Richard's advice on that spelling Schadenfreude is usually used in laughing at someone elses misfortune. The potential (sexually explicit) implications of YOUR above spelling of the word could lead you into dangerous territory.
Reply from Sabine Harmann (Elkhorn, WI - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Thu Feb 12, 2004 2:27 am

The word "Schadenfreude" reminds me of:
"In the misfortune of our best friends, we always find something which is not displeasing to us." (Duc de la Rochefoucauld)
"Another's misfortune tastes of honey." (A Japanese proverb)
Reply from Susumu Enomoto (Shiraokamachi - Japan)
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Post by Archived Reply » Thu Feb 12, 2004 2:41 am

"Scheidenfreud" is obviously a Freudian slit.
Reply from Erik Kowal (Reading - England)
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taking pleasure in the misfortune of others

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Jul 09, 2004 1:13 pm

I believe there is a word (German origin?)which means "taking pleasure in the misfortune of others" - anyone know the word? I can't recall.
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taking pleasure in the misfortune of others

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Jul 09, 2004 1:27 pm

Schadenfreude (literally meaning 'harm delight').
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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taking pleasure in the misfortune of others

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Jul 09, 2004 1:41 pm

While in this area, there are some interesting reflections on a closely-related (and touchy) subject to be found at: ... envy1a.htm
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Re: Schadenfreude

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:05 am

While finishing another Alexander McCall Smith (author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series) novel in his Isabel Dalhousie series this evening, I read the following:
<2007 “But sweet as such thoughts were, they were not thoughts which a conscientious moral philosopher could entertain. Schadenfreude in any shape or form was, quite simply, wrong.”—The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith, page 208>
I'm unfamiliar with the expression Schadenfreude, but after looking it up, I just marveled at what a beauty of a word it is. A Wordwizard search revealed that it had been discussed in two postings some years go (which I’ve merged into this one) and it is such a jewel that I thought I would bubble it up, and include any additional information I could find on it.

It was originally German, but since there was no equivalent English word for this delicious concept, some folks had the good sense to adopt it as a loan-word (1895) and it now appears as Standard English in English dictionaries. The definitions above cover the ground well and the following just provides some additional wording and quotes. Note that the word appears both capitalized and not.

schadenfreude (shahd'-n-froi-duh) noun: Satisfaction or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others; enjoyment obtained from the mishaps of others. [[German: Schaden, damage, injury, harm (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from frō, happy).] (American Heritage Dictionary, Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)


Schadenfreude noun: Malicious enjoyment of the misfortunes of others.
<1852 “What a fearful thing is it that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others; for the existence of the word bears testimony to the existence of the thing. And yet in more than one such a word is found . . . In the Greek . . . , in the German, ‘Schadenfreude.’”—On the Study of Words (edition 3) by R. C. Trench, II. page 29>

<1867 “Have not I a kind of secret satisfaction, of the malicious or even of the judiciary kind (schadenfreude, ‘mischief-joy,’ the Germans call it, but really it is justice-joy withal), that he they call ‘Dizzy’ is to do it.”—Shooting Niagara: & After? by Carlyle, III. page 12>

<1895 “But the Schadenfreude, or malicious joy, of the French was premature.”—German Emperor William II by C. Lowe, ix. page 256>

<1901 “Sometimes it [sc. Queen Victoria's smile] would be coyly negative, leading the speaker on, the lips slightly opened, with a suggestion of kindly fun, even of a little innocent Schadenfreude.”—Quarterly Review, CXCIII. page316>

<1920 “The particular sentiment described in German as ‘schadenfreude’ ‘pleasure over another's troubles’ (how characteristic it is that there should be no equivalent in any other language for this peculiarly Teutonic emotion!) makes but little appeal to the average Briton except where questions of age and of failing powers come into play.”— Days Before Yesterday by F. Hamilton, iv. page 118>

<1939 “There appears to be a certain amount of ‘Schadenfreude’ in London . . . at Germany's failure to get the German-Soviet Pact ratified.”—Palestine Post, 31 August, page 6/3>

<1947 “The Schadenfreude of cooks at keyholes.”—The Age of Anxiety (1948) by W. H. Auden, I. page 14>

<1977 “Solidarity or no solidarity, Widger was not wholly without Schadenfreude at seeing his informative colleague discomfited for once.”—Glimpses of the Moon by E. Crispin, iv. page 62>

<1985 “Chase Econometrics founder Michael Evans, who sold the company to the bank in 1979, could scarcely conceal his schadenfreude.”—Boston Globe, 15 January>

<1994 “In John Barton's position, you'd have to be a trainee saint to avoid feeling a pang of relief and a flicker of schadenfreude.”—The Independent (London), 4 May>

<2005 “My schadenfreude over the Bush administration's continuing decline in the polls leads me to wonder just what we -- the American We -- are going to do about Bush and his be-medaled cronies after next year's elections?”—Boston Sun-Times, 12 December>

<2009 “The flash of triumphalism -- fueled further by schadenfreude over the tax troubles of some of Obama's Cabinet nominees -- is not without risk.”—Washington Post, 9 February>
(Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources)

Ken G – February 26, 2009
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Re: Schadenfreude

Post by Shelley » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:29 pm

There's a song about this in the 2003 musical "Avenue Q" (music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx): (rather than expose you to all the really awful pop-up ads that invade your screen upon opening the average lyrics website, I’ll just roughly reprint the lyrics here . . . Hah! I guess I'm not strong in the schadenfreude suit, otherwise I'd be gleeful at the prospect of you having to try to click yourselves out of an endless loop of advertising for weight-loss products and cruise vacations!)
Gary Coleman: Right now you are down and out and feeling really crappy
Nicky: I'll say.
Gary Coleman: And when I see how sad you are / It sort of makes me... / Happy!
Nicky: Happy?!
Gary Coleman: Sorry, Nicky, human nature- / Nothing I can do! / It's... Schadenfreude! / Making me feel glad that I'm not you.
Nicky: Well that's not very nice, Gary!
Gary Coleman: I didn't say it was nice! / But everybody does it! / D'ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?
Nicky: Yeah...
Gary Coleman: And ain't it fun to watch figure skaters falling on their asses?
Nicky: Sure!
Gary Coleman: And don'tcha feel all warm and cozy, / Watching people out in the rain!
Nicky: You bet!
Gary Coleman: That's...
Gary and Nicky: Schadenfreude!
Gary Coleman: People taking pleasure in your pain!
Nicky: Oh, Schadenfreude, huh? / What's that, some kinda Nazi word?
Gary Coleman: Yup! It's German for "happiness at the misfortune of others!"
Nicky: "Happiness at the misfortune of others." That is German!
Watching a vegetarian being told she just ate chicken
Gary Coleman: Or watching a frat boy realize just what he put his dick in!
Nicky: Being on the elevator when somebody shouts "Hold the door!"
Gary and Nicky: "No!!!" / Schadenfreude!
Gary Coleman: "Fuck you lady, that's what stairs are for!"
Nicky: Ooh, how about... / Straight-A students getting Bs?
Gary Coleman: Exes getting STDs!
Nicky: Waking doormen from their naps!
Gary Coleman: Watching tourists reading maps!
Nicky: Football players getting tackled!
Gary Coleman: CEOs getting shackled!
Nicky: Watching actors never reach
Gary and Nicky: The ending of their Oscar speech! / Schadenfreude! / Schadenfreude!
Schadenfreude! / Schadenfreude!
Gary Coleman: The world needs people like you and me who've been knocked around by fate.
'Cause when people see us, they don't want to be us, and that makes them feel great.
Nicky: Sure! / We provide a vital service to society!
Gary and Nicky: You and me! / Schadenfreude! / Making the world a better place...
Making the world a better place... / Making the world a better place... / To be!
Gary Coleman: S-C-H-A-D-E-N-F-R-E-U-D-E!
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Re: Schadenfreude

Post by Siana » Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:46 pm

I was going to mention Avenue Q myself when I was reading through this topic, because of the handy spelling tip at the end!

I love Avenue Q - especially this song, because it's so upbeat, it makes schadenfreude sound like a good thing, rather than a cruel thing...!! It was also this song that introduced me to this word - and I agree with Ken, it's a lovely one. I like there being a word to say something that in English (though I suppose schadenfreude does count as English now?) we would have to use a whole phrase for.
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Re: Schadenfreude

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:16 pm

Shelley (thanks for the lyrics) and Siana, This play somehow slipped through the cracks for me and I was completely unaware of its existence (Am I out of it, or what?). But after just doing a search and reading up (Tony Award, etc.), I don't know how I missed it – must have somehow tuned it out (I'm good, but in this case it turned out bad, at doing that sort of thing), probably thinking it was a children's show when I saw, and skipped, the ads and the reviews. Anyway, I'm kicking myself in the ass real hard for having missed the show, which I found just passed through Denver this last September. I know I would have loved it. The material, premise, etc. looks great – that'll learn me!
Anyway, the lyrics to Schadenfreude are a riot, as are the lyrics to some of the other Avenue Q songs that I checked out.

It's a funny thing. I lived on Newkirk Avenue, one block from Avenue D, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn for the first 16 years of my life, was very familiar with the area, and I never took note of the fact that in the alphabetical array of streets, there was no Avenue Q – it was Quentin Road! But I suppose when you are immersed in it all and you are pre-seventeen (or even older), you sometimes don't take notice of these things – they're just there. In fact, I just realized, for the first time in my life, that “new kirk,” as in Newkirk Avenue, means “new church” (to the Scots, at least). See that! I am older and wiser (in some ways).

Ken – March 10, 2009
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Re: Schadenfreude

Post by Shelley » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:57 pm

Ken, far from being a children's show, "Avenue Q" contains the most graphic, live, on-stage puppet sex I've ever seen!
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Re: SSchadenfreude

Post by Siana » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:25 am

Indeed! Track 10 is the worst - it's my (15 year old) sister's show really, she bought the soundtrack and she played it for months and months, but somehow managed to skip track 10 so expertly that none of us realised, until my mum took her and friend to see it in the West End. The shock! (I won't describe the track on here...)

So there really are alphabetised streets? I was never sure whether that was just a thing the show made up...

I think the writers originally planned Avenue Q as a kind of grown up Sesame Street, with little life lessons and things, but eventually turned it into a musical. It's a wonderful, fun musical, it's a shame you missed it. But I'm sure you will catch it one day!

In Australia, McLeod's Daughters actress Michala Banas is set to play Kate Monster. She just recently replaced Kym Valentine as Libby in Neighbours for a month (my favourite, favourite show - bad, I know) while she recovered from a collapsed lung, if anyone watches that... Another occasion when I wish I lived in Australia!
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Re: Schadenfreude

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:46 am

And this time when SCHADENFREUDE reared its ugly head, I was ready and loving it:
<2009 “In the small and catty world of advertising and design, Arnell’s stumble has been cause for celebration. The schadenfreude on Madison Avenue hangs so thick you can practically taste it.”—Newsweek, 6 April, page 39>
Arnell, ‘brand architect’ genius, and apparently obnoxious eccentric, engineered a redesign of the Tropicana juice box, which failed spectacularly last year, while his recent new Pepsi logo drew “mixed reactions.” But it seems he is generally successful and Newsweek did devote 2717 words to this character and his company, which is still no excuse for me having actually read the whole thing. (>;)

Ken G – April 24, 2009
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