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An idiom for deriving pleasure from another's suffering

We often experience the following:

We feel happy when our fellow classmates get a bad grade and not necessarily when we ourselves get a good grade.

We feel excited when our opposing team plays really awful and not necessarily when we our team plays well.

We feel pleased when one person we hate experiences some kind of misfortune and not necessarily when we ourselves get good luck.

What is a word or phrase to describe the phenomenon above?


3 Answers 3


I am thinking of the word schadenfreude, which in fact is German but that is used in English as well.
Possible suggested replacements are gloating and slang lulz.

  • 1
    Wow! This answer is one of the reasons I like this site: I don't think I would ever find out there's such a word in English in any other way!
    – Irene
    Nov 20, 2011 at 15:30
  • +1. "Schadenfreude" is one of my favorite words, because it so precisely specifies a complex but common emotion - sort of like Portugese "saudade".
    – jprete
    Nov 20, 2011 at 20:30

Sadism is enjoyment from watching another suffer.


Epicaricacy is joy at the pain of another.

  • 1
    I would dispute that this is a word at all. In all Google's millions of books, the word is used once by a Jewish writer, and once by humourist Robert Rankin in a context which suggests to me at least that he doesn't really think it is either Nov 21, 2011 at 0:08
  • @FumbleFingers No argument. I found this word collected by several online dictionaries, only the very basic meaning (no further explanations) of which is available though. Some even mention that it's the English equivalent of the German word schadenfreude. That's all I know.
    – Terry Li
    Nov 21, 2011 at 2:01
  • Well I suppose if people ever start using it, it would de facto become a word. But by that token I'm not sure supercalifragilisticexpialidocious isn't a word. Nov 21, 2011 at 3:44

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