“Schadenfreude” is the German word for deriving pleasure from others’ pain. Since there isn’t a direct word for that in English, the German word is commonly used. This article will explore some words for deriving pleasure from others’ pain that come close to what “Schadenfreude” achieves.
The preferred words are “gloating,” “sadistic,” and “exult.” These works work well to show that you are delighting in the pain of others. Often, you’ll be sat where it’s safe, watching someone else suffer or fail from a distance. This is ideal when referring to Schadenfreude.
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“Gloating” is a good verb choice that shows you are pleased or satisfied by your own success. Usually, this is amplified when you realize that other people around you had to fail in order for you to achieve that success.
“Gloating” allows you to feel much more important than the people around you. It will often make the other people resent you, though, as it is a very toxic character trait.
The definition of “gloating,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to feel or express great pleasure or satisfaction because of your own success or good luck, or someone else’s failure or bad luck.”
- You’re gloating about this because it hasn’t happened to you yet. You always like it when you watch others’ suffer.
- I think you gloat too much. One of these days, it’s going to happen to you. Just wait until you start to regret your choices.
- He likes to gloat because he thinks he’s better than all of us. Eventually, karma will come along and bite him. We’ll be waiting for that day.
“Sadistic” works well to show that you enjoy being cruel or hurting other people. This word is more hands-on than most of the others, as it usually comes from you causing the pain to others.
“Schadenfreude” generally implies that you are watching other people suffer, but you are not involved in causing them to suffer. “Sadistic” implies that you are trying to make them suffer.
The definition of “sadistic,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “getting pleasure by being cruel to or hurting another person.”
- She acts so sadistically all the time. I really don’t want to get to know her because she comes across as quite evil.
- I think you’re quite sadistic, and you should be very careful with what you say about these things. It can be dangerous.
- I hate how sadistic he can be. He seems to really enjoy watching other people fail. That’s such a toxic character trait to me.
“Exult” is a great verb choice that you can use to show that you’re happy about someone else failing or losing. You can use it to show that you enjoy yourself when you see other people fail.
“Exult” is a form of celebration, but it only refers to times when you have seen other people fail. It’s a great one if you’re looking for something to replace “Schadenfreude.”
The definition of “exult,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to express great pleasure or happiness, especially at someone else’s defeat or failure.”
- I heard you exult when everyone else failed. I knew you’d have a great time with that. I feel like I know you so well.
- I didn’t mean to exult in your failure, but I did find it quite hilarious. I’m glad it wasn’t me who had to suffer the consequences like you.
- Go ahead and exult. I’m not going to stop you. Just remember that everyone else can see you right now for the disgusting being you are.
“Epicaricacy” isn’t an officially recognized word. Many dictionaries don’t recognize it because it is a rare noun that doesn’t see a lot of use. You would have to explain its meaning to most native speakers, but it works really well in this context.
“Epicaricacy” means that you are rejoicing in the misfortune of others. It shows that you really enjoy watching other people fail and suffer.
It’s the closest English match to the German word, “Schadenfreude.” The only issue is that it’s so rare that most native speakers know nothing about it.
- I heard that he enjoyed a bit of epicaricacy in his time. He likes to see other people fail, and I think that’s why he has a hard time making friends.
- Epicaricacy isn’t a good quality to have. You’ve got to be careful when it comes to people seeing you with it.
- I thought she knew what epicaricacy was, but she didn’t seem to understand my words. I’m disappointed in her.
“Morose delectation” shows that you are always happy and enjoying yourself when other people are “morose” (sad or unwilling to do something). It allows you to find joy in the suffering of others.
The definition of “delectation,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “great pleasure and enjoyment.”
- The morose delectation that he feels when watching his friends fail is unmatched. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone smile so much.
- Stop with the morose delectation and actual move for once. Maybe if you tried it, you’d realize that it’s a lot harder than it looks.
- Morose delectation isn’t a good look on you, honey. You need to watch that smile of yours when you think other people are failing.
“Relish” is a good verb choice that shows you enjoy something. It doesn’t strictly relate to the losses or failures of other people, but it can be used in such a way as long as it’s specified in the context.
“Relish” is a great word that shows you’re really enjoying your victory. It can be turned around to show that you enjoy your victory (or someone else’s victory) because it means that other people had to lose or be defeated.
The definition of “relish,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to like or enjoy something.”
- I relish in the misfortunes of others. I don’t think I’ve ever found something that is as exciting as that. To be honest, I need it again!
- She’s going to relish in your loss if you let her see you. I know what she’s like, and she can be very toxic when it comes to these things.
- He relished in his victory, but it seemed like he focused more on everyone else’s defeat. I can’t stand sore winners like that.
“Armchair malice” is a great phrase you can use for this purpose. It comes from the idea that someone is sitting in their armchair and not getting involved in something that might lead them to fail. They instead sit and watch other people fail.
People who enjoy “armchair malice” often won’t get their own hands dirty. They won’t get involved in anything that might cause them to fail, but they’d be the first ones to laugh or mock when other people fail for giving something a try.
The definition of “malice,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “the wish to harm or upset other people.”
- Armchair malice is a dangerous trait to possess, yet it seems to be something that the whole family suffers from. I hate that about them.
- I’m not sure you’re quite at the level of armchair malice yet, but you’re getting there. You have got to start being kinder to people.
- She was sitting there enjoying her armchair malice while everyone else struggled to get the job completed. She was just smiling.
“Roman holiday” works well to show that you’re relishing in the loss or failure of other people. It implies that you’re a Roman emperor, and you are enjoying the work of the people around you.
When it comes to a Roman holiday, it implies that you prefer to see the people around you fail rather than succeed. You can use this phrase to show that someone thinks they’re better than most people and that their suffering makes them happier.
- If you haven’t been on a Roman holiday before, now is your chance. You get to watch all of these people suffer while you enjoy yourself.
- I think you should stop trying to get the feeling of a Roman holiday in your life. It’s so toxic, and it’s going to make people hate you.
- A Roman holiday is something that I try to avoid. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at anything, and people seem to laugh at me for that.
“Sadistic glee” is a loose translation of “Schadenfreude.” If the word is translated from German to English, it’s likely that “sadistic glee” is the phrase that comes out. This shows that you find joy (or “glee”) in the pain or failure of others.
- I felt a sense of sadistic glee when I saw Sarah fail. I’m not going to say I was proud of that feeling, but it certainly was fun to watch.
- You’re feeling some sadistic glee right now, aren’t you? I could see it in your eyes. I knew I couldn’t trust you with this stuff.
- I thought that sadistic glee only happened to other people. It turns out that I’m quite capable of feeling it, too.
You may also like: 9 Best Words For The Opposite of “Schadenfreude” (Antonyms)