from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Malicious enjoyment derived from observing someone else's misfortune.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun delight in another person's misfortune


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from frō, happy).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowing from German Schadenfreude ("joy in the suffering of others")


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word schadenfreude.


  • The one that pops to mind is "schadenfreude" - the German word that means, pleasure in the mishap coming to a friend.

    Why Read? 2004

  • It is this sort of nonsense that makes the whole world get to grip with the term schadenfreude whitout really disliking the brits, England claim they invented football but it is long gone since they can dictate who or were the game is to be played.

    Sport news, comment and results | 2010

  • I have always been curious about the German word schadenfreude which is such a perfect translation of a Chinese proverb - xing zai le huo (幸灾乐祸).

    Danwei - Media, Advertising, and Urban Life in China 2010

  • I have always been curious about the German word schadenfreude which is such a perfect translation of a Chinese proverb - xing zai le huo (幸灾乐祸).

    Danwei - Media, Advertising, and Urban Life in China Danwei Picks 2010

  • Here is an example of the service with the German word 'schadenfreude' (click to enlarge):

    Google will translate for you 2008

  • In this one, she writes about her favorite word, the German word "schadenfreude," and raises a question about its relation to Detroit. - RSS 2009

  • A teasing highlight of the book comes in a parenthetical aside, when Kipnis notes that psychologists have found that schadenfreude is always most potent in areas of what they call 'self-relevance.'

    Laura Kipnis's "How to Become a Scandal," reviewed by Ellen McCarthy Ellen McCarthy 2010

  • Other than continuing to bang on Jenn, I'm unclear on the point of continuing to drag this thread out (unless schadenfreude is the only thing remaining, which isn't either helpful or sporting).

    GUEST POST: Jennifer Brissett Weighs in on the Writer Pay Rate Flap 2009

  • (Surveys, lab experiments, and brain readings all show that, for better or worse, schadenfreude is a powerful psychological force: at any fixed level of income, people are happier when the income of others is reduced.)

    How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America 2010

  • A teasing highlight of the book comes in a parenthetical aside, when Kipnis notes that psychologists have found that schadenfreude is always most potent in areas of what they call 'self-relevance.'

    Laura Kipnis's "How to Become a Scandal," reviewed by Ellen McCarthy Ellen McCarthy 2010


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  • why take pleasure in this word/ other people's suffering. Or wow, other people's lists of insipid words: "sash, dash cash"? Let's have some sapidity, please!

    December 2, 2006

  • . . . promotes the meaning of this word every day and every minute and in every way . . .

    December 3, 2006

  • Or the English version, epicaricacy.

    December 3, 2006

  • Best used in Avenue Q.

    December 6, 2006

  • laugharn brilliantly named schoenfraun schadenfreude's sad emo cousin.

    December 7, 2006

  • Also, the only equivalent phrase (that I am aware of) in English is Lucretian joy

    December 7, 2006

  • The next time I see someone fall on the ice I am going to help them up.

    December 7, 2006

  • Schadenfreude seems to be one of the most primal pleasures. Television shows abound are filled with examples: man falls off ladder, child flies off swing, bucket falls onto woman. In one sense it is a valuble learning experience: you are glad you weren't in that position, and make a note not to be in it yourself. But why is it so funny? The only answer I can give is that it expresses the joy you have, build in by millenia of evolutionary conditioning, that you were not the weak one who ended the chain, that, whilst others may fail, you go on to live another day.

    December 7, 2006

  • Overrated word that has caught on wildly in an age when people giggle at the "Darwin Awards," etc.

    December 31, 2006

  • I'm willing to bet that schadenfreude stays on the most wordied, past seven days list because it is always listed on the homepage. Akimbo went through a similar period.

    February 11, 2007

  • The schadenfreude may now reign down, but that doesn't seem like a reason not to do so.

    February 21, 2007

  • Due to flagrant overuse, schadenfreude has been depreciated from a twenty-dollar word to a dime a dozen. If only the supply of words could be restricted in the same manner as currency.

    March 26, 2007

  • schadenfreude is terminally overused, but what a great word! truly captures that common, base feeling.

    March 26, 2007

  • 232?!? Now that's just getting out of hand. And I still can't stand this word.

    People, stop adding it! Resist the temptation! It's not that great, really!!

    May 10, 2007

  • You'll not see my name on here, u. I dislike the word as much as you do. Eeesh.

    May 10, 2007

  • Quit being all indie snob, U!

    May 11, 2007

  • You're just jealous because I have more obscure words than you.

    May 11, 2007

  • Wait...the words are more obscure or you have more of them that are obscure?

    Oh cripes, I keep doing that. Occupational hazard....

    May 11, 2007

  • Y'see, I thought of that question myself. But I knew that I'm indie enough to get away with answering "BOTH!" So there. :-P

    May 11, 2007

  • Hmph. Guess you told ME. ;-)

    May 14, 2007

  • That's what stairs are for.

    May 20, 2007

  • "Die reinste freude ist die schadenfreude."

    May 31, 2007

  • Clearly the popularity of this word demonstrates the collective sadism of Wordie users.

    June 21, 2007

  • Being sometimes a saccharine optimist, I can't help opining that the reason others' pain is funny is not that ha-ha, it's you instead of me, but rather an instinctual, communal response to tragedy: an affirmation that, despite obstacles, injuries, and atrocities, we survive anyway. Laughter springs not from a sense of superiority, but from a sense of connectedness.

    September 18, 2007

  • Npydyuan, for one brief, shining moment you almost made me like this word.

    But then it passed.

    September 18, 2007

  • "one brief, shining moment"?

    maith go leor!

    September 18, 2007

  • Yes indeed. And that's about all I have for you. :-)

    September 18, 2007

  • I'm sorry to report that the S-word has hit 300. I don't think anything is gaining on it either.

    Here's the rest of the top 100. Did anyone keep a record of what it looked like a year ago or at other times? It would be interesting to see how the rankings have changed.

    2. quixotic (227)

    3. serendipity (217)

    4. loquacious (193)

    5. ennui (191)

    6. plethora (185)

    7. mellifluous (174)

    8. obfuscate (169)

    9. verisimilitude (164)

    10. sanguine (162)

    11. sesquipedalian (161)

    12. ephemeral (159)

    13. lugubrious (158)

    14. onomatopoeia (156)

    15. love (154)

    16. syzygy (154)

    17. cacophony (153)

    18. defenestrate (152)

    19. antediluvian (147)

    20. defenestration (145)

    21. crepuscular (144)

    22. zeitgeist (144)

    23. callipygian (140)

    24. curmudgeon (136)

    25. ubiquitous (135)

    26. persnickety (135)

    27. cerulean (135)

    28. moist (131)

    29. egregious (131)

    30. ethereal (129)

    31. esoteric (129)

    32. palimpsest (128)

    33. doppelganger (127)

    34. superfluous (127)

    35. portmanteau (125)

    36. cantankerous (124)

    37. pulchritude (122)

    38. ersatz (119)

    39. insouciant (117)

    40. inchoate (116)

    41. macabre (116)

    42. mercurial (115)

    43. obsequious (115)

    44. synecdoche (115)

    45. lackadaisical (115)

    46. halcyon (114)

    47. conundrum (112)

    48. miasma (112)

    49. salacious (111)

    50. penultimate (110)

    51. quotidian (110)

    52. capricious (110)

    53. nefarious (108)

    54. anathema (107)

    55. clandestine (107)

    56. taciturn (106)

    57. wanderlust (105)

    58. erudite (104)

    59. facetious (104)

    60. pedantic (103)

    61. akimbo (103)

    62. solipsism (101)

    63. jejune (100)

    64. lithe (100)

    65. peripatetic (100)

    66. soliloquy (100)

    67. apotheosis (99)

    68. flibbertigibbet (98)

    69. zephyr (95)

    70. chiaroscuro (95)

    71. epiphany (95)

    72. neologism (95)

    73. soporific (94)

    74. vapid (92)

    75. laconic (92)

    76. palindrome (92)

    77. quagmire (91)

    78. nascent (91)

    79. azure (91)

    80. obstreperous (91)

    81. avuncular (90)

    82. brouhaha (90)

    83. kerfuffle (89)

    84. troglodyte (89)

    85. melancholy (88)

    86. paradigm (88)

    87. recalcitrant (87)

    88. unctuous (87)

    89. sardonic (87)

    90. prolix (87)

    91. supercilious (86)

    92. prestidigitation (85)

    93. diaphanous (85)

    94. lachrymose (84)

    95. moxie (84)

    96. fuck (84)

    97. ineffable (84)

    98. snarky (84)

    99. perspicacious (84)

    100. truthiness (83)

    March 29, 2008

  • I have a feeling fuck is on the wane, which given the other words in the top 100 is a shame. Jejune? Azure? Pulchritude? Give me strength.

    March 29, 2008

  • Hmmm. Do you think this word, when it lies awake in its bed at night, delights at the misfortune of other words in not being most-listed?

    April 1, 2008

  • I'm certain it does. It would be just like this word.

    April 1, 2008

  • It is a *shame* that I can't add this word to conversations.

    April 2, 2008

  • Haha. I'm enjoying the fact that you can't, jennarenn.

    April 2, 2008

  • See also chairekakiophobia.

    April 6, 2008

  • Does John have this on the sign-up confirmation page?

    Thank you for joining Wordie, please add schadenfreude to complete the registration process.

    April 13, 2008

  • I must have been grandfathered in, then, thank heavens.

    April 14, 2008

  • Higher than truthiness? I suppose that's one less point for the Hipster-ness of Wordie users, but our sadism is cemented.

    It's a reassuring thought!

    April 16, 2008


    April 18, 2008

  • It would be pretty straightforward for me to calculate the top 100 at any given time. What I'd love to do is create some kind of dynamic histogram of how the top 100 has evolved. Or devolved. No promises, but I'll work on that someday.

    April 18, 2008

  • Oh no! Help! I added the s-word as my least favourite and I think it added one to the count for it! Is this so? If it is, how can listing your least favourite word add to its popularity? Sacrilege-bleu! Is it a bug or am I bugdudgeoning? Btw,schadenfreudgeon is why I did it. Can I cancel it?

    April 19, 2008

  • Gangerh, you may have just made bunch of people very happy. Since about two weeks after Wordie launched, I've meant to make it so that least favorite words didn't count towards the number of times a word has been listed. And I think I never got around to it.

    So this weekend I'll see if that's correct, and fix it if so. And we'll see if the S-word gets taken down a few notches. Maybe the reason it's been on top of the charts is because it's so hated.

    April 19, 2008

  • Aha! So 'tis possible that, after erinfern first listed it, 305 Wordies put it down as their least favourite? schadenfreudgeon demands a re-count!

    April 19, 2008

  • Seeing this word appearing so often in the comments list lately, I've developed a growing fondness for it... Even favouritism...

    (Actually I just like to sing it to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus, for some reason.)

    April 19, 2008

  • Oh no, sir! I for one did not get sucked into that trap! You will see no trace of the s-word on any of my mind-numbingly long lists. No siree.


    P.S. Gangerh, you can remove it. Just click on "delete" right after the listing. And hurry, before someone sees you there and adds it in solidarity!

    April 19, 2008

  • 'Spose the s-word describes you now 'cause I did get 'sucked in', r-t!

    April 19, 2008

  • 'Spose the s-word is what you feel now 'cause I did get 'sucked in', r-t!

    April 19, 2008

  • I would never wish that on a fellow Wordie-ite.

    April 19, 2008

  • At the risk of becoming a Wordie outcast for the rest of Wordieternity, I have to ask... Why is this word so hated?

    April 19, 2008

  • Yes, I wanted to ask, too, but I never dared... How did it all start? Who found out that nothing can capture a heart... oops, sorry. Now I'm singing. And dancing.

    April 19, 2008

  • I second plethora's question. For that matter, why the hatred of moist?

    April 19, 2008

  • Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one wondering.

    As for moist, I personally associate it with bodice rippers, which not only makes it dirty in my mind, it gives it connotations of poor quality and veneral diseases.

    But that's just me :D

    April 19, 2008

  • If only 50 people had listed the word, I think the dislike would be much less intense. But the top rank combined with the meaning says something a bit dispiriting about us collectively. Why couldn't a word like sprachgefuhl (also listed as sprachgefühl) be the top of the list? That would be frabjous!

    April 19, 2008

  • I dislike the s-word because I think it's overused. As we all started discussing why we disliked it, we seemed to have given it the Wordie treatment and it became a sort of collective we-hate-this-word thing.

    And never hesitate to ask. No one will kick you off Wordie. (Well, John could, but he's not that kind of dictator.)

    April 19, 2008

  • (*Still singing*)

    April 19, 2008

  • Molly's nailed it. Some dislike the S-word for what it is but many, philosophically, would like to see something more positive up there. Any suggestions?

    April 19, 2008

  • schadenfreudgeon, of course! Vote now!

    April 19, 2008

  • Suggestions, eh? Well, right now the #2, #3, and #4 words are quixotic, serendipity, and loquacious. All three of these have meanings that could be applied to Wordie, I think, and their popularity makes us seem like a good-natured lot.

    If one of the three were to overtake schadenfreude, I wouldn't shed a tear.

    April 20, 2008

  • Oh, pshaw to this lobbying for specific words in an effort to dethrone the most commonly listed. This is not the Colbert Nation.

    I think you guys are making far too much of this. Being most commonly listed is no more than that - it does not imply, for instance, that people like the word, or in any way consider it among their favorites.

    April 20, 2008

  • I'm actually starting to feel a little sympathy for poor schadenfreude, considering all the abuse it's taken lately. I thought about adding it to each one of my lists, just to see if it would rack up the count and tick people off (hee...) but I didn't. Yet.

    April 20, 2008

  • Pshaw to you too, s-ionnach! We're having fun and if you don't like it you can always take your list home. So there! ;~>

    April 20, 2008

  • I tried that c_b and it seems that the count is per Wordie who lists the word rather than per number of times listed.

    April 20, 2008

  • I think gangerh is having a bit of pshawdenfreude over there. ;-)

    April 20, 2008

  • tsk, tsk gangerh! (Or do I mean tut-tut?) :-)

    Don't make me do it. Up until now I have not actually been guilty of listing the dreaded s-word (as far as I know). But I'm starting to feel a little like c_b, all this bashing may just force me into a solidarity listing.

    But - heaven forfend - far be it from me to interfere with anybody's fun. I think I was just tempted by the opportunity to say pshaw.

    Please carry on!


    April 20, 2008

  • Ptero, your failure to list pshawdenfreude will cost you Wordie points. That's a humdinger.

    April 21, 2008

  • Change ghermann password to "zeitgeist." Next week I guess it'll be

    "schadenfreude." Strange guy...

    - Datacube of tech-support guy Alex Jacobson, Deus Ex.

    One more plug for the runaway schadenfreude train (with a zeitgeist plug to nab a miserable double)!

    May 26, 2008

  • "That the report of Sebastian Imhof's grave illness might also have been tinged with Schadenfreude appears not to have crossed Lucas's mind."

    - 'Flesh and Spirit', Steven Ozment.

    The capitalisation here is just as ugly as the word itself. Common nouns are not capitalised in English, regardless of what happens in German. Pass the bucket please.

    May 29, 2008

  • No. 2 (quixotic) isn't so uplifting either. Haters of the S-word are placing all our hopes on serendipity, which is fitting ... but if there were any justice, loquacious would top the site. I'm off to do my part!

    June 5, 2008

  • (n): a feeling of extreme pleasure or satisfaction

    June 13, 2008

  • It's a terrible word and a terrible concept! This word would never be allowed on the porch! *stomp, stomp*

    June 20, 2008

  • burntsox, quixotic is only horrid if you say it the way Americans seem to, pronouncing the x as in espresso.

    A nice faux-Spanish pronunciation, with the x like an English h, is positively poetic.

    June 20, 2008

  • Sorry? X as in WHAT?!

    June 20, 2008

  • I just found this list!

    June 20, 2008

  • You got it, Pro. I was going to say "x as in expresso", but I knew I'd never forgive myself for actually typing ...


    June 20, 2008

  • I like the sound of the x in quixotic, actually.

    June 20, 2008

  • Well. I have yet to list the infamous s-word. But how else to describe the joy that watching "Engineering Disasters" on The Hitlery channel's "Modern Marvels" brings me.

    I could watch footage of baggage being chewed up in the infamous Denver Airport's baggage handling debacle for hours on end.

    Does this make me a bad person?

    August 8, 2008

  • If this doesn't bring on definitive schadenfreude, I don't know what will!

    September 8, 2008

  • A definitive prat-splatting, indeed!

    September 8, 2008

  • The more you hate it the better I like it.

    October 11, 2008

  • The more you like it the better I loathe it.

    October 11, 2008

  • 366! Gaah. Enough already. stop taking so much joy in the misfortune of others, wordie.

    Vote for chipmunk!

    November 13, 2008

  • According to, which tracks the most commonly used words in English, this word ranks at 76,291. That's out of 86,800 in their database. Serendipity, on the other hand, happily scoots in at 54,600. Other Wordie favourites quixotic 43,055, loquacious 55,235 and ennui 54,693 are also modestly placed. The first semantically-loaded rather than functional word in the count is arguably people, ranked 81.

    November 19, 2008

  • Good! Let's kick this word when it's down. That would give me great pleasure.

    November 20, 2008

  • "People" is also the first six letter word on the list. I wonder what the first seven letter word is. There's apparently no easy way to find out.

    November 20, 2008

  • After much thought, I've decided to love this word just because everyone else hates it so. That way, I can experience schadenfreude each time a Wordie squirms at its appearance...

    Geez--now that I've actually used it in a sentence, I hate it even more. Never mind.

    What is it about this word?

    November 20, 2008

  • For me, skipvia, it's just that it's so mean-spirited.

    November 20, 2008

  • I saw the meaning for this word as some girls headline a while back, and for some reason i took some interest. But to use it in a conversation; I feel dumb. Just because it sounds weird. Plus most people I know, don't even know what it means. Sometimes that becomes a bit annoying. So I stopped taking a like to it. But now for some reason, I enjoy it.

    December 19, 2008

  • How can you laugh,

    when you know I'm down? (How can you laugh?).

    Oh yeah.

    January 9, 2009

  • Today's NYT.

    January 14, 2009

  • Those Germans have a word for everything.

    January 20, 2009

  • It's interesting how the comments on this page are numerous enough to equal the "appears in these lists" column.

    January 20, 2009

  • This word turning up here today is rather Iroquoisy for me. See here for an interesting take.

    January 20, 2009

  • Interesting reader comment to the article kindly linked by trivet:

    "I recently used Schadenfreude in the company of two native German speakers. They were emphatic that English speakers are not using the word in its precise sense. They stated that to a German speaker, Schadenfreude means feeling badly or guilty about the pleasure one feels when because of another’s misfortune. If one has no pangs of conscience or guilt when enjoying another’s misfortune, that is not, they claimed, Schadenfreude."

    January 20, 2009

  • That's a nice story, but is quite implausible, given that the root-word is "Freude", which unquestionably denotes 'joy' or 'pleasure'.

    January 20, 2009

  • Oi, we're in the area of sociolinguistics here. Germans do have a deep sense of guilt and it doesn't seem at all implausible that the concept may exist in a social sense as they have described.

    January 20, 2009

  • We can ask telofy...

    January 20, 2009

  • Here's the science behind it. :-)

    March 20, 2009

  • Love this word.. taking pleasure in others' misfortune

    June 20, 2009

  • What a Red Sox fan feels when the Yankees are on a big losing streak

    July 5, 2009

  • Thanks reesetee for the link. Lovely word, now with more meaning.

    July 11, 2009

  • Thanks Possible--but in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I'm on the anti-"S-word" team myself (as many veteran Wordies already know).

    July 13, 2009

  • I suppose I shouldn't ask why? Nevertheless, I am rather curious...

    July 17, 2009

  • a very interesting article, reesete.

    July 17, 2009

  • Came across French words "chaud" and "froid" today. Meaningful???

    October 6, 2009

  • Ask gangerh if he'll cook up some chaudenfroidgeon for you.

    October 6, 2009

  • Take this word and ...

    November 19, 2009

  • ...snort it.

    November 19, 2009

  • I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks unsavory thoughts upon seeing that menu.

    November 19, 2009

  • Help is at hand!

    November 19, 2009

  • You guys make me laugh!

    November 19, 2009

  • Take this word and stick it where the sun don't shine!

    November 20, 2009

  • that a way to be confident!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 30, 2009

  • I was just a victim of in-your-face schadenfreude by my Jewish neighbor on facebook! I'd call her on it but she's so nice that I think I'd actually be guilty of schadenfreude if I did... I think I'll just blame facebook and get on with it.

    January 3, 2010

  • I saw that! Just blame Facebook--that's the spirit. ;-)

    January 3, 2010

  • From the examples for schadenfreude:

    I have always been curious about the German word schadenfreude which is such a perfect translation of a Chinese proverb - xing zai le huo (幸灾乐祸).

    —Danwei - Media, Advertising, and Urban Life in China

    In this one, she writes about her favorite word, the German word "schadenfreude," and raises a question about its relation to Detroit.

    — - RSS

    Detroit? Uh... of course! It all makes sense now....

    August 5, 2010

  • Wonders: is there still a "list of most listed words"?

    November 11, 2010

  • There isn't, but I've been meaning to revive that forever, and will soon.

    November 11, 2010

  • "My pulled-out-of-thin-air theory is that around the dotcom bust, people started using 'schadenfreude' because it felt good to see all those overnight-millionaire 20-year-olds get knocked back down to earth, and then more people were aware of the word and it started being used more regularly as appropriate things came up in the news–Martha Stewart’s insider-trading conviction, Bernie Madoff’s cancer rumor, and so on."

    --"The Rise of Schadenfreude" by Mignon Fogarty (a.k.a. Grammar Girl).

    December 6, 2010

  • Hahaha! I'm the 500th person to list this word.

    How does that make you feel?

    June 29, 2011

  • My favorite schadenfreude photos

    September 26, 2011

  • testing... testing.

    September 27, 2011

  • How did you get hold of my baby photos?

    September 27, 2011

  • Bilby twins. Double the ears!

    September 27, 2011

  • On Nov 11, 2010, milosrdenstvi wondered if there was "still a 'list of most listed words'."

    I nominate milos to create that list if we don't have one already.

    March 28, 2013

  • I don't know if it was already done between 2010 and now, but I have made a list of most listed words. I think schadenfreude continues to be the most listed word on this site.

    September 25, 2015