Another German word with a “built-in” reference to the source or rather the causation of the described feeling – all inside and combined into a single word.

Schaden means no more than damage, harm ordaño in Spanish. In this case, however, it is not just any sort of damage, but the sort of daño that effects other people’s well-being specifically. Mostly (and hopefully) it is damage on a smaller scale involving a person you know personally or that is known to you. Its harmless nature allows you to feel Freude about the other person’s misfortune. Freude means “joy” or alegría in Spanish.

So if you feel happy about your unsympathetic neighbor stepping into dog poo, because he never removes his own dog’s poo from the sidewalk – well, that is some Schadenfreude indeed.

However, as often, there can be a fine line between a harmless little alegría about someone’s, possibly even deserved mishap and some truly “malicious joy” of other people’s misery. Especially if the damage isn’t rather small.

Therefore, for the sake of one’s own character, Schadenfreude should always be executed with caution – the joy might find someone else next time you are facing misfortune yourself.



Author: Denis Glismann

Image source: skechtplanations