Guilty pleasure
March 7, 2006 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Is there one word in a language besides English for the term "guilty pleasure"? I'm guessing German, but anything else will do.
posted by gottabefunky to Grab Bag (22 answers total)
posted by zek at 9:40 PM on March 7, 2006

At dinner, Homer gloats that Ned's business is a flop.

Lisa: Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is?
Homer: No, I do not know what shaden-frawde is. [sarcasm] Please tell me, because I'm dying to know.
Lisa: It's a German term for `shameful joy', taking pleasure in the suffering of others.
Homer: Oh, come on Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt! [getting mad] He's usually all happy and comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel... What's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?
Lisa: [nastily] Sour grapes.
Homer: Boy, those Germans have a word for everything!
Enjoyable as it is to be reminded of that scene, I don't think Schadenfreude (or sour grapes) are a match for what gottabefunky is after.
posted by krisjohn at 10:01 PM on March 7, 2006

Yeah, not so much joy in the misfortune of others, more joy in doing something you know you really shouldn't be.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:08 PM on March 7, 2006

I suspect epicaricacy can be used in this way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:16 PM on March 7, 2006

peché mignon (cute sin, French) might be close?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:46 PM on March 7, 2006

posted by Paris Hilton at 11:31 PM on March 7, 2006

posted by knave at 11:34 PM on March 7, 2006

How about the German Nachsicht?

(Actually, all I did was get the translation of "indulgence" in various languages. I don't speak German but Nachsicht rolls around the tongue with the right texture, like whipped cream.)
posted by mono blanco at 11:40 PM on March 7, 2006

I am German. It's neither Schadenfreude nor Nachsicht.
I don't think there is an exact translation with a precise term. All I can think of are explanatory workarounds like "Vergnügen mit schlechtem Gewissen" (Pleasure with a guilty conscience). A quick dictionary search didn't find anything better fitting.
posted by ollsen at 11:57 PM on March 7, 2006

In German, the closest anything comes to "guilty pleasure" is "Sünde", which, you guessed it, means "sin".

It is used by all sorts of people, not only those who actually believe in the idea of sin. I guess this can be attributed (at least here in Austria) to a deeply routed Catholic tradition, where the idea of "guilt" is omnipresent.
posted by richardh at 12:53 AM on March 8, 2006

HA! Sünde got me on the right track. "Sündiges Vergnügen" - that's it! Sünde alone is too far away from the meaning of guilty pleasure. But "sündiges Vergnügen" really nails it. And it is a commonly used term for example in advertising, e.g. for chocolate.
So I have to take back my previous post.
posted by ollsen at 1:29 AM on March 8, 2006

In spanish "placer culpable", 2 words alas.
posted by signal at 5:42 AM on March 8, 2006

Wasn't there a site on here a while back that listed a whole bunch of these one-foreign-word-for-it terms?
posted by gottabefunky at 9:10 AM on March 8, 2006

posted by Squid Voltaire at 1:21 PM on March 8, 2006

I think some of our foreign-language friends might not have the connotations of the phrase right. A "guilty pleasure" isn't a "sinful delight" as I think "suendiges Vergnuegen" might be most equivalent to. A "guilty pleasure" is something you enjoy, but are slightly embarrassed about enjoying, like having a secret stash of Britney Spears mp3s, or devouring trashy romance novels, or TiVoing telenovelas. There is the idea that you are somehow "above" the thing that is giving you the pleasure.

I don't speak any languages fluently enough (including my native one!) to provide an answer to the question, but it seems such an inherently American concept, that I'd guess that if English ain't got it, no one does.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:11 PM on March 8, 2006

"culpable" doesn't seem to mean the right kind of guilty. It's more like responsible. "placer vergonzoso" might be better, but it's still 2 words.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:52 PM on March 8, 2006

All these "must be a word for it (possibly in German)" questions make me feel like emphasizing that this is only because Germans love compound words. This can often lead to wonderful concision, like with Schadenfreude.

I think it's often more analogous to common phrases in English. One exception is in the case of calques (or, to show that English is comfortable with compound phrases, "loan translations"), e.g. Sauerstoff (Oxygen) and Wasserstoff (Hydrogen).

But "sündiges Vergnügen" has even more syllables than "guilty pleasure"! :-) The sound of each G in close array justifies the phrase, I guess.

Now, Pech, that's a good German word…
posted by Gnatcho at 6:15 PM on March 8, 2006

What does that mean?
posted by gottabefunky at 10:23 PM on March 8, 2006

martinX: actually, "placer culpable" is the exact translation, and is a fairly common idiom, at least in Chile, whereas "placer vergonzoso" just sounds wrong.
posted by signal at 2:45 AM on March 9, 2006

'Káröröm' in Hungarian. (I'm not sure whether it's just a transliteration of 'Schadenfreude' or a bonafide magyar original, though.)
posted by xanthippe at 6:52 AM on March 9, 2006

What does that mean?

Pech is pitch, a material used in roofing. Since in the molton state it's very hot, it was a handy substance for pouring down onto your enemies, like the hunchback did with the molton lead in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

(Learned during a night-time tour of Rothenburg.)
posted by Rash at 8:39 AM on March 9, 2006

Yeah, sorry, I should have defined it. Though it does mean "pitch" I was actually think of Pech as it is used more often in German speech, as a word to indicate "misfortune". Its best usage is when you're (poorly, ok, not at all) masking Schadenfreude about some misfortune someone is telling you, so you respond, "Pech!" (Too bad! Tough luck!).
posted by Gnatcho at 11:16 AM on March 9, 2006

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