A word that describes taking pleasure in my enemy's pain?
September 18, 2006 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Is there an English term for, or an idiom that describes, taking pleasure in the pain or humiliation of one's enemy?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese to Writing & Language (27 answers total)

Not really English, but seems to have been Anglicized a good bit.
posted by Mayor West at 8:22 AM on September 18, 2006

Are you asking for an English word for schadenfreude?

From Wikipedia: Usually, it is believed that Schadenfreude has no direct English equivalent. For example, Harper Collins German-English Dictionary translates schadenfreude as "malicious glee or gloating." An apparent English equivalent is epicaricacy, derived from the Greek word epichaerecacia.
posted by randomination at 8:22 AM on September 18, 2006

The closest English word, in feel at least, (that I am aware of) would probably be "gloating..."
posted by dersins at 8:26 AM on September 18, 2006

Schadenfreude will do it, thank you.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:28 AM on September 18, 2006

I know you've got your answer now, but the reverse dictionary is quite good for this kind of thing.
posted by TheDonF at 8:53 AM on September 18, 2006 [7 favorites]

i think the closest English word would be sadism
posted by derbs at 8:56 AM on September 18, 2006

wow that reverse dictionary thing is very cool
posted by derbs at 8:57 AM on September 18, 2006

Yes, thank you TheDonF, that link is very helpful.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:58 AM on September 18, 2006

Sadism, though, misses the stipulation of taking pleasure at the misfortune of one's enemies—a sadist presumably takes pleasure in the witness or causation of cruelty in general, regardless of their feelings for the victim. A paddlin' is a paddlin', so to speak.
posted by cortex at 9:06 AM on September 18, 2006

"rubbing one's nose in it" can have that meaning, but it's a little more direct and aggressive
posted by pyramid termite at 9:28 AM on September 18, 2006

I think of schadenfreude as a mingling of the pleasures of saying "I told you so" and "go f--- yourself."
posted by Iridic at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2006

Poetic justice comes close.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:58 AM on September 18, 2006

I was led to believe by my German friends that schadenfreude really only applies to having joy in the misfortune of your friends, not your enemies.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:00 AM on September 18, 2006

How is schadenfreude not an English word? It is in every major English dictionary. There are all sorts of other words that are direct borrowings from other languages yet we regard them as English.
posted by grouse at 10:26 AM on September 18, 2006

By contrast, "epicaricacy" does not appear in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or even the unabridged OED! And I bet that very few English-speakers who are not also students of Greek would be able to figure out what it is. Claiming that it is English and schadenfreude is not is kinda silly.
posted by grouse at 10:28 AM on September 18, 2006

Spite is close.
posted by leapingsheep at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2006

Schadenfreude does not do it. it actually means taking pleasure in someone elses damage or disadvantage. humiliation and pain are something else.

you take pleasure in a fact, not the effect it has on that person, when you feel Schadenfreude.
posted by krautland at 11:31 AM on September 18, 2006

How is schadenfreude not an English word?

Paging languagehat! In the mean time, it's an argument in terms, I think. Is it an English word, or is it a German loanword? Is it English, or is it in English?

The difference between schadenfreude and coupon is, I think, pretty easy to feel—the former is a distinctly, even famously German construction. I'd be surprised to meet many English speakers who use the word but can't paraphrase the notion that it's an untranslatable German expression.

Whereas coupon is just a plain old household term. Oh, it's a coupon. Half off! Save fifty cents! Equal or lesser value! It's not a French word to your average (US) English speaker; there's nothing at all exotic about it, nothing seemingly foreign. The pronounciation is anglicized. There's a degree of assimilation here that simply doesn't apply to schadenfreude.

I'd argue that schadenfreude is not an English word/phrase at this point—nor c'est la vie, nor caveat emptor, nor konnichiwa—so much as a word/phrase commonly deployed by English speakers. It's a loanword, a conspicuously foreign construction adopted but not yet assimilated.
posted by cortex at 11:40 AM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

posted by cortex at 11:41 AM on September 18, 2006

Whenever I see schadenfreude in print in English media, it is italicized, which means it hasn't been fully adopted and is still considered alien, I believe.
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:47 AM on September 18, 2006

I know I have seen schadenfreude unitalicized in print many a time. I will note that it is italicized or quoted (and sometimes even capitalized in the middle of a sentence) in all of the OED examples, although the last one is before I was born.
posted by grouse at 12:07 PM on September 18, 2006

Like grouse, I have often seen schadenfreude unitalicized (I'm italicizing it here because I'm citing it as a word, not a concept). Furthermore, it's in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate unitalicized, which means it's a naturalized English word by the only useful standard (people's individual feelings about a word not being a useful standard). And "epicaricacy" is not a word by any meaningful definition, unless you count "being used once in an 18th-century dictionary" as a meaningful definition. I stand by my grumpy comments in Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey:
There are two separate issues here, etymological and (if you will) epistemological. A word can be a perfectly good word while having a totally screwed-up etymology (eg, television). Conversely, a word can be fine etymologically but not exist as a genuine English word (logoclopy could mean 'plagiarism,' but doesn't). This [epicaricacy] has a bad etymology and is also not a word: nobody uses it... The words of English are the words used by English speakers, and no English speaker has ever used this word other than artificially (citing it in language threads). As I said earlier in this thread, schadenfreude has far greater claim to English-word status.
In conclusion: bah, humbug.
posted by languagehat at 1:26 PM on September 18, 2006

Not that I have a great deal of investment in the arguement, but a simple attempt to verify my claim suggests that The Times, at least, has a policy of italizing schadenfreude: 1, 2, 3
posted by MetaMonkey at 1:46 PM on September 18, 2006

The Times also capitalizes Schadenfreude--an indication that they're treating it as a completely foreign word that's still subject to German noun rules.
posted by Iridic at 1:54 PM on September 18, 2006

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 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!

posted by WCityMike at 5:31 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

see also conanism
posted by rob511 at 5:37 PM on September 18, 2006

(WCityMike's comment is from the song "Schadenfreude" from the Broadway musical "Avenue Q", in case anyone was wondering.)
posted by Asparagirl at 10:24 PM on September 18, 2006

« Older holiday sublet in Providence   |   Name that Coffee Shop! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.