Does an idiom exist that describes it?
I remember a Magic The Gathering card which had "Schadenfreude" in German and "Sadistic Glee" in English.
The Wikipedia page includes the English equivalents of Schadenfreude.
- Roman holiday
- Morose delectation
Little-used English words synonymous with schadenfreude have been derived from the Greek word epichairekakia (ἐπιχαιρεκακία). Nathan Bailey's 18th-century Universal Etymological English Dictionary, for example, contains an entry for epicharikaky that gives its etymology as a compound of ἐπί epi (upon), χαρά chara (joy), and κακόν kakon (evil). A popular modern collection of rare words, however, gives its spelling as "epicaricacy".
An English expression with a similar meaning is 'Roman holiday', a metaphor taken from the poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butcher'd 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.
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". The medieval church taught morose delectation as a sin. French writer Pierre Klossowski maintained that the appeal of sadism is morose delectation.
An English word of similar meaning is "gloating", where "gloat" is defined as "to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight" (gloat over an enemy's misfortune).
The internet slang term "lulz" (A variation of LOL) has acquired the connotation of fun or amusement at another person's expense, especially in regard to trolling behavior.
Though "Sadistic" carries a potential sexual inference (that one would actually derive sexual pleasure from another's suffering), this word is used frequently without implying the sexual element of it. It derives from The Marquis de Sade who was a real go-getter.
Of someone who delights in the pain of others; Of behaviour which gives pleasure in the pain of others
Malicious enjoyment is a normal ego-produced feeling. When I was in school and I received a "B" in a test, I hated the "A"s but loved gloating at the "C"s. Politics and sports are full of schadenfreude. Often we gain from other's misfortunes and people who are run by their egos love to feel anything that will stroke the ego.
Currently, the newer idiom for deriving pleasure at others expense is lulz.
Often used to denote laughter at someone who is the victim of a prank, or a reason for performing an action. This variation is often used on the Encyclopedia dramatica wiki and 4chan image boards. According to a New York Times article about Internet trolling, "lulz means the joy of disrupting another's emotional equilibrium."