Schadenfreude is a German word meaning ‘pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.’ It has been borrowed by the English language and is sometimes also used as a loanword by other languages. It derives from Schaden (damage, harm) and Freude (joy); Schaden derives from the Middle High German schade, from the Old High German scado, and freude comes from the Middle High German vreude, from the Old High German frewida, from frō, (happy). In German, the word always carries a negative connotation. A distinction exists between “secret schadenfreude” (a private feeling) and “open schadenfreude” (Hohn).
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 επιχαιρεκακία, epichaerecacia. This word does not appear in most modern dictionaries, but does appear in Nathaniel Bailey‘s Universal Etymological English Dictionary (1727) under a slightly different spelling (epicharikaky), which gives its etymology as a compound of epi (upon), chara (joy), and kakon (evil).
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