Today’s word comes courtesy of all the social media hype and hoopla surrounding Australia’s manic Monday when Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott to become Australia’s 29th Prime Minister.

Cue hashtag #libspill and memes (pronounced “meems”; rhymes with dreams) aplenty. Had to chuckle at this post on SBS:
Julia Gillard Rushed To Hospital After Overdosing On Schadenfreude.

Julia Gillard

Bet Julia Gillard felt a sense of schadenfreude when Tony Abbott lost the top job. Image via SBS.

Which brings me to my Word for the Week: schadenfreude.
No, not “schoo-den-froo-den”.
Say it with me: schadenfreude.
No, not “sha-den-freud” – though Freud might have had something to say about it.
All together now: schadenfreude.
No, not “ska-den-fre-oo-day”.
Try saying it in your best German accent, okay? I give up, just watch this YouTube video:

Schadenfreude. Yes, now you’ve nailed it: “SHAA-din-froid-der”.

It’s a German mash up of harm (schaden) and joy (freude). To put it simply, it means the feeling of peverse pleasure you derive from someone else’s pain.

Bet you’ve felt it. Surely you know a certain someone who seems to have it all. Perhaps a colleague whose life is rainbows and roses – while yours is, well, just a bit blah.

Ms. Perfect lives in a white picket fence home with her shiny, happy family. There’s never a grey hair/ chipped nail/ snot-stained top in sight.
And then, she gets fired from her job. Something to do with her office credit card.
And you dance with delight in the shadow of her downfall.

Perhaps it’s petty of you. Perhaps you feel a bit guilty. Perhaps the person deserved it. Perhaps it’s just human nature.

We all tend to compare ourselves to others: siblings, colleagues, even celebrities. And when you see somebody fall off their pedestal, you feel a bit better about yourself. A wee bit smug that their halo is off-centre.


Ever catch yourself wishing that the opposing cricket team captain will get bowled out for a duck?
Ever stop yourself from laughing when your toddler trips after countless warnings from you to stop running?
Ever feel a sense of smug satisfaction when you see a Facebook photo of an ex who is rather rotund now?
Tick that schadenfreude box.

As novelist Gore Vidal famously stated:

It’s not enough to succeed. Others must fail. Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.”

And finally, here’s how NOT to pronounce Schadenfreude. Thanks for the hilarious link, Dianna. “Scootin’ fruiten,” indeed!

So tell me, did you know how to pronounce schadenfreude? Ever catch yourself feeling it? What do you think makes us feel a sense of schadenfreude?


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