Friday, October 19, 2007


Oh my god! I am so excited. Jenn Pozner of WIMN (Women in News & Media), you just made my day. Her casual and nonchalant use of the word "schadenfreude" in a conversation we had this morning is a reminder of how easily delighted I am by cool words. Those of you who've seen Avenue Q doubtlessly remember the scene dedicated to schadenfreude.

Wikipedia defines it as a German word meaning "pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune." There is no English equivalent, though one is listed there: epicaricacy. But people. Please. Epicaricacy? That's way too easy to botch, especially given my track record with another favorite---specificity---which has equally confounding syllables.

But yay to schadenfreude. I need to buy Jenn a drink. But how can we not have a word for this in the English language? I can't think of any other culture that takes more pleasure from other people's misfortunes than ours. The British maybe, but not the Germans. The cool thing is that I only hang out with people who take pleasure in other people's misfortunes, so I'll find ample opportunity to slip it into conversation. "The way you get off on schadenfreude is distressing." I'll say. "Have you thought of seeking professional help?" And they'll just nod, acting like they know what I'm talking about and I'll feel satisfied.


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