Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

Is there a word which means to take pleasure in the misfortune of another when previously that misfortune was inflicted on you by that other person?

I won't describe here (in public) the particular circumstances in which I find myself looking for such a word, instead please enjoy this example from Three Men In A Boat.

Rather an amusing thing happened while dressing that morning. I was very cold when I got back into the boat, and, in my hurry to get my shirt on, I accidentally jerked it into the water. It made me awfully wild, especially as George burst out laughing. I could not see anything to laugh at, and I told George so, and he only laughed the more. I never saw a man laugh so much. I quite lost my temper with him at last, and I pointed out to him what a drivelling maniac of an imbecile idiot he was; but he only roared the louder. And then, just as I was landing the shirt, I noticed that it was not my shirt at all, but George’s, which I had mistaken for mine; whereupon the humour of the thing struck me for the first time, and I began to laugh. And the more I looked from George’s wet shirt to George, roaring with laughter, the more I was amused, and I laughed so much that I had to let the shirt fall back into the water again.

  • 1
    Do you mean a word for pleasure derived from revenge?
    – b.roth
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 14:56
  • 1
    @Bruno Almost, but in the quoted example no revenge is taken (until the shirt drops again)
    – Ed Guiness
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 15:25
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    Schadenfreude is a German word. It is used among English speakers mainly out of amusement that the Germans would bother to make a word for such a thing. If you are looking for similar words, you really should be asking German speakers (deutch.stackexchage.com ?)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 13:29

6 Answers 6


I believe the most appropriate term for that situation is that one is feeling revenged.

  • 2
    Did you mean avenged? I've never heard of 'revenged' as the adjective.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 18:21
  • @Mitch: No. Avenged has several inapplicable implications. I don't know what to tell you about the fact that you haven't seen revenged in this usage other than "sooner or later you will".
    – chaos
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 22:58

I can't think if a phrase for the feeling, but

  • "just deserts" is used to describe what the other person is felt to receive; and
  • "poetic justice" may describe the circumstances: the fact that they do receive their just deserts.
  • 2
    @Jasper Great point. Here I've always thought the derivation of the word was the same as dessert but evidently that word comes from the French desservir "to clear the table" whereas desert in the sense of punishment/reward comes from Old French deservir "to deserve"
    – ghoppe
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 16:03
  • @Jasper - yes, of course I did. Thank you. I'll edit it.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 20:14
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    @Jasper: Amusingly, if you search Google for just deserts, it suggests "Did you mean: just desserts." This may be as much of a lost cause as begging the question.
    – user1635
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 22:00
  • @Jasper: you learn something new every day
    – wfaulk
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 13:35
  • "Just deserts" or "just desserts" Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 1:01

We have a Japanese popular saying, 'the other's agony (trouble) is my own pleasure,' which I think exactly fits to the word shadenfreude. We also have another Japanese proverb, 'Misfortune (unhappiness) of others tastes (sweet) like honey'.


How about gloat or gloating?


Gloating is nice, and variations on malicious glee always struck me as pretty.


One word that is coming to me is spite.

petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart



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