Schadenfreude isn't a rare word, nor a rare feeling. If you've revelled in saying a sly "I told you so", then you've enjoyed a bit of schadenfreude.

n. the experience of joy or satisfaction when something bad befalls someone else.

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This doesn’t need much explanation – schadenfreude isn’t a rare word, and it’s not a rare feeling. If you’ve ever said a sly “I told you so” – or, if you’re a fellow Bajan, “da fuh lick yuh”, then you’ve revelled a bit in schadenfreude.

I picked it as my word of the week last year before I even thought about doing this word of the week thingy, because I witnessed a delicious dollop of comeuppance fall on the head of a nemesis.

But my conscience delivers me a dilemma – it’s not a very kind emotion to revel in, is it? Unkindness isn’t a quality I’m trying to cultivate, so here: I’ve confessed. So when I became aware that my nemesis was getting another helping of the fruits of their labours, I decided it was time to illustrate this word that keeps coming back with its dark gifts.

It’s a German loan word, of course, literally meaning harm-joy; knowing that makes it less likely that you’ll willingly indulge, unless you’re shameless. I’ll leave that up to you.

Schadenfreude meaning and etymology

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