The German word schadenfreude is often used in English to express the pleasure derived from seeing misery in others.

From dictionary.reference.com

schadenfreude noun. satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.

For example quite harmlessly, finding it funny when someone trips over, or more dramatically the pleasure derived when seeing your ex-partner go through a messy break up.

Is there a word for wanting bad things to happen to others? The context would typically a bit a jilted lover or a jealous person.

For example hoping someone's holiday goes badly, or hoping the company project goes badly after you leave.

  • 'Ill will' and synonyms (eg hostility; rancour) surely include this sense. May 26, 2015 at 22:51
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    Malevolence means literally "wishing evil" upon someone, though it's also (and perhaps more often) employed to mean "enacting evil" upon someone. May 26, 2015 at 23:23
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    @EdwinAshworth I think rancour merits an answer at least.
    – dwjohnston
    May 26, 2015 at 23:46
  • Is 'enmity' along the right lines? May 27, 2015 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


From the Wikipedia section on this word:

An English expression with a similar meaning is Roman holiday, a metaphor from the poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butchered to make a Roman holiday" while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering. The term suggests debauchery and disorder in addition to sadistic enjoyment.[9]

Another phrase with a meaning similar to Schadenfreude is "morose delectation" (delectatio morosa in Latin), meaning, "The habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts".[10] The medieval church taught that morose delectation was a sin.[11][12] French writer Pierre Klossowski maintained that the appeal of sadism is morose delectation.[13][14]

An English word of similar meaning is "gloating", where "gloat" means "to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight" (e.g. to gloat over an enemy's misfortune).[15] Gloating is differentiated from Schadenfreude in that it does not necessarily require malice (one may gloat to a friend about having defeated him in a game without ill intent), and that it describes an action rather than a state of mind (one typically gloats to the subject of the misfortune or to a third party).

  • 1
    I quite like 'morose delectation' :)
    – dwjohnston
    May 26, 2015 at 23:42

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