What is the inverse of schadenfreude?
January 18, 2012 4:51 PM   Subscribe

What is the word (not necessarily in English) for feeling acute embarrassment for another person? And in a particular kind of situation...

I'm thinking of a situation in which the person is naively serious and somewhat melodramatic about a situation that others--namely me--would find trivial at best. In other words, they are taking themselves very seriously--and treating their situation very seriously--but no one else really is. Or that person is inflating their self-importance in a situation in which he/she isn't important at all.

To me, witnessing this behavior is really awkward and cringe-inducing. Does it have a name?
posted by zardoz to Human Relations (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
This has been asked before!
posted by zsazsa at 4:56 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is alway wahjah.

Which is really a made up word.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:59 PM on January 18, 2012


I use "cringeworthy". When I'm not speaking Dutch. ;)
posted by likeso at 5:13 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Secondhand embarrassment.
posted by june made him a gemini at 5:36 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


fremdschämen. German for "vicarious embarassment"

it comes up around here often.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:38 PM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Secondhand embarrassment.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:43 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's a dictionary official word, but I've heard igry used this way.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:46 PM on January 18, 2012


Oh! In addition to "plaatsvervangende schaamte", the Dutch also use "teenkrullend" (or new spelling "tenenkrullend") for the same thing. Literally = toe curling.
posted by likeso at 5:47 PM on January 18, 2012


In Spanish it's "vergüenza ajena" (lit. "another person's shame").
posted by dr. boludo at 5:48 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Finnish "myötähäpeä" would come close to that.
posted by severiina at 6:17 PM on January 18, 2012


I would say secondhand embarrassment. Some in fandom call it "The Motts" and, apparently, embarrassment squick.
posted by Nickel at 10:11 PM on January 18, 2012


In Mexico, it's pena ajena.
posted by clearlydemon at 11:55 PM on January 18, 2012


@likeso: I'd say "tenenkrommend", rather than "tenenkrullend", but I suppose both would be correct.
posted by prolific at 5:13 AM on January 19, 2012


Absolutely prolific, I've heard (and come to think of it, actually used) both. Huh. Now wondering if it's a regional or simply idiosyncratic thing.
posted by likeso at 5:50 AM on January 19, 2012


« Older Are stylists telling the truth...   |  My dog has now bit my mom and ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.