For example: you laugh at someone getting hurt on America's Funniest Home videos, and then are ashamed that you laughed at their pain. Or you want to laugh at an off-color joke, but are ashamed that you found it funny in the first place. Or someone tells you a story about a personal misfortune, and you find it funny, but you are trying not to laugh and are disappointed with yourself for finding it funny.

Sample: I was [word] when my boyfriend caught his privates in the zipper of his jeans.


  • Not the single-word answer you're looking for, but a common way of expressing this emotion in AmE is, "I'm going to hell for laughing at this." – Kevin Krumwiede Oct 7 '15 at 1:54
  • "Embarrassed amusement" is a phrase I might use. (And, BTW, that can be incredibly painful.) – Hot Licks Nov 6 '15 at 3:35

Schadenfreude fits most of your examples. The fact that English had to borrow a German term to cover this would seem to indicate that there is no native word that covers your actual answer.


I think bemused might be a good fit, though I'm not sure if the connotation is identical. You could check out some real life examples to see if it works for you.

P.S. Check out this brief article - We are not bemused

I suspect bemused might not work for you as a standalone term. For example, people might not know exactly what the following means:

I was bemused.

But I think they could easily fill in the blanks by focusing on context, though I'm having trouble coming up with a good example. Below is one possibility, though I'm not 100% certain that I'm using the term correctly:

People who are amused by handicapped people are sickos, though I have to confess to occasional bemusement.


I was surreptitiously laughing when my boyfriend caught his privates in the zipper of his jeans.

When someone behaves in a surreptitious way, they're being secretive. They're doing something that they don't want to be seen doing (i.e. in a stealthy way).

  • Secretive and stealthy, yes, but it does not have the component of shame that OP is specifically asking for. Also is not a single word, which is requested by OP's tag. – Holly Oct 6 '15 at 23:25
  • @HollyK - Good remark, even if a hidden smile suggests the feeling of shame. To be more explicit, shamefully may fit. – Graffito Oct 6 '15 at 23:31

This is not a single word as you requested, OP, but I'm not certain that there is a single word in English that expresses the sentiment you are looking for.

The closest I can come is guiltily amused.

You are amused, but feel guilty for being so.


Sounds a bit like chagrinned. American Heritage defines chagrin as

A keen feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or a disconcerting event: To her chagrin, the party ended just as she arrived.

While it is not limited to embarrassment associated with amusement, it might suit.

There is also the concept of guilty pleasure

Something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard

Oxford Dictionary Online

The idea is I like it but I shouldn't is a good bit broader, but it aligns with highbrow types giggling at lowbrow culture.

  • 1
    I was thinking abashed, a synonym of chagrinned. I think the connotations are slightly better. – stevesliva Oct 7 '15 at 4:36
  • @stevesliva A good one. Add it as an answer. It gets my vote. – bib Oct 7 '15 at 16:24

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