I'm thinking that there must be a word that means, rather than "feeling pleasure in the misfortune of another", "the pleasure of feeling superior to another".

This certainly seems (at least) as common a phenomenon as schadenfreude, but has it been condensed into a single word?

Addendum: I see that I ought to have been much more specific in my question. Feelings of smugness or self satisfaction do not require another person to whom one feels superior. Elitism, is far too general and is usually applied to groups or classes, not individuals. Naturally when you feel superior you feel "Superiority", but I was looking for a word that means taking pleasure in superiority, not the feeling of superiority itself. I intended a specific instance, such as when one person has just bettered another in a game.

I believe schadenfreude is usually also applied in specific instances / for specific events - as when one sees someone get what is viewed to be their "comeuppance", for example. It's not something one goes around feeling more or less continually, which in many cases might validly be applied to superiority, elitism, or arrogance.

  • 1
    – Ed Guiness
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 15:30
  • Thank you for triggering the memory of a bumper sticker seen long ago: "I'm not arrogant. I'm just better than you." :-)
    – user506571
    Commented Jun 15 at 5:38

5 Answers 5


The word smug comes to mind.


I offer hauteur, which is pride (a feeling of pleasure deriving from one’s qualities or accomplishments) arising from a sense of superiority.

Google Dictionary:

pride /prīd/ Noun: 1. A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired

hau·teur /hōˈtər/ Noun: 1. Haughtiness of manner; disdainful pride


I think superiority itself is good enough for your purpose. Alternatively, you might want to call it elitism.

Elitism: consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group.

Edit: I just came across the word condescension, you might be interested in.


Based on your example I would suggest "gloating", which the Merriam-Webster defines as:

to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight

I'm not sure if it has enough of the "superiority element" in it but I'll let you be the judge of that.


I suggest self-satisfied, "satisfied with oneself; especially too satisfied; smug; slightly arrogant", or possibly prideful, "full of pride; haughty, arrogant", in addition to previously-suggested elitism and smugness.

As for the belief or feeling of superiority itself, distinct from feeling pleasure in same, consider the many synonyms of arrogant: aloof, arrogant, blustery, boastful, bombastic, cocky, conceited, egotistical, flaunting, grandiose, haughty, insolent, narcissistic, ostentatious, pompous, pretentious, self-important, supercilious, uppity, vainglorious, vain, big-headed, high-and-mighty, show-offy, snobbish, snotty, snooty, stuck up, nose in the clouds, holier-than-thou.

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