I don't think anyone can reasonably say that schadenfreude has not become a proper word in English. But how and when? Here are the results of a little digging.
Through the late 1990s it seems that the vast majority of usages of schadenfreude treated it as foreign word. For example, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973) states it is a German word, which Pynchon must explain to his readers.¹ Only occasional authors – albeit some prominent ones – treated it as an ordinary English word.² I wouldn't think it could have "made it into the dictionary" at that point; certainly not as anything other than an obscure term.
This changed in the late 1990s. Although a few serious authors still treat schadenfreude as a foreign word,³ as Pynchon did, they are now in the clear minority, most use it as an English word.
Speculating on why this change occurred, it's interesting to note that two other things happened at the same time. First, the word became more popular. [Google up schadenfreude 1998 and then do the same with other years, you'll find a general though imperfect trend that the number of hits increases rapidly. It's far more than the increase you'd find for other words, due to growth of the net.] Second, a comedy troupe with the name Schadenfreude was being broadcast on Public Radio, which of course appeals to the literati.
My guess is that it is that troupe and that radio that brought the word Schadenfreude into our language.
¹ Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin edition, p. 526)."Springer is easily tickled by what the Germans call Schadenfreude, the feeling of joy at another's misfortune." So too the 1968 note, apparently by translator Walter Kaufmann, in Basic Writings of Nietzsch: Schadenfreude-a German word for which there is no English equivalent, is not quite "the wicked pleasure in the beholding ... "
²Barbara Tuchman, Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (1978), p. 312: "Scenes of torture in revolting realism were regular theatrical fare, as if a iolent time bred enjoyment of violence. ... Schadenfreude was not peculiar to the Middle Ages, but it was a dark variety indeed ... "
³Daniel Goleman, Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama (2003) n. 2 to ch. 12: "Although there is no single word in English that itself translates mudita, 'delight in the happiness of others,' a word that stands in stark contrast exists in German: Schadenfreude, 'delight in the suffering of someone else.'"
Took a look at the 2nd edition OED's entry for Schadenfreude. It defines the word as the "malicious enjoyment of the misfortunes of others." The earliest quotation is from 1852: R. C. Trench Study of Words (ed. 3) II. 29. "What a fearful thing it is that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others, for the existence of the word bears testimony to the existence of the thing. And yet in more than one is such a word to be found ... In Greek epichairekakia, in the German, 'Schadenfreude'." Then one from Carlyle. And in the Q. Rev., cxciii. 316. 1901: "Sometimes it [sc. Queen Victorias's smile] would be coyly negative, leading the speaker on, the lips slightly opened, with a suggestion of kindly fun, even of a little innocent Scahdenfreude. I think it starts out as a foreign word in Trench, but has been naturalized by the turn of the century use in re QV.
[Fixed typo.]This message has been edited. Last edited by: jheem,
What an interesting discussion, wordnerd and jheem! I am wondering if it may have been naturalized at the turn of the century, as jheem says, across the pond....but later here in the states.
BTW, I think Daniel Goleman makes a great point when he says that we don't have a word that means delight in the happiness of others, and yet we have a word for the opposite concept. Or do we have a word for that concept, and he's just unaware of it?
No, but how about the Greek word nemesetikos which LSJ glosses as "disposed to indignation at any one's undeserved good or ill fortune". It's in the Nichomachean Ethics real close to where epichairekakia lurks. Derivation of nemesetos "causing indignation or wrath, worthy of it". I think I'll coin the word: nemesetic. Want to champion my neologism, Kalleh?
Trench was using schadenfreude as a foreign word, as you say; so apparently was Carlyle. [You don't quote the Carlyle use, but I'm betting it was this by Carlyle in 1867: "Nay, have not I a kind of secret satisfaction, of the malicious or even of the judiciary kind (schadenfreude, 'mischief-joy,' the Germans call it ..."]
My first reaction was that 1901 citation uses the word as English. Even so, a term can't be considerd a "word" the very first time it is used as such; it must "catch on". Also, on further look I find that a few years later Fowler considered it to be a foreign word, notwithstanding such usages like the 1901 one. He said, "What a writer effects by using these ornaments is to make us imagine him telling us he is a wise fellow and one that hath everything handsome about him, including a gentlemanly acquaintance with the [foreign] language."
P.S. by edit: A secondary source says that OED calls words such as as zeitgeist, Weltanschauung and schadenfreude "resident aliens". Can someone verify?
[This message was edited by wordnerd on Sat Mar %73, 2004 at 17:14.]
wordnerd. Yes, you've got the right Carlyle quotation. There's also another quotation I omitted that falls between Carlyle (1867) and the Q. Rev. (1901): C. Lowe, German Emperor William II, ix. 256, (1895): "But the Schadenfreude, or malicious joy, of the French was premature." Now, the OED does not give exhaustive quotations for a word's usage, and my current working theory on schadenfreude is that sometime between Trench and the turn of the century, it came to be used more and more, but perhaps always with reference to its German origin, as a sort of comment on the German national character (as was pointed out earlier in another thread by RichardEnglish).
In today's paper, regarding the recent demise of Martha Stewart's reign in business, "I'd hate to deprive some people the pleasure of seeing the high and mighty brought down low, but I hope Stewart's sentence is merely a fine and community service."
Isn't that sentence just screaming for the word "schadenfreude?"
Yes, Not to Mention a Double Dactyl
Everyday working man
Sees Martha Stewart and
Laughs at her fate.
Since he is acting so
Clearly his own life is
Not all that great.
Time spent, 5 minutes - A
Topicality - A
Point made - B+
Questionable 6th line - B, but acceptable
Overall - A
No, I think it is an "A" all the way around. Excellent! And, I love "schadenfreudistically." One think Shu and I have disliked about that word is that it is only a noun. Period. You have now made it into a very acceptable adverb!
kalleh: "schadenfreudistically." You have now made it into a very acceptable adverb!
"Acceptable"? I'd bet jheem would have esthetic objections to "schadenfreudistic", "schadenfreudistical" and "schadenfreudistically". But kudos for making the effort, CJ.
Sorry to disappoint, but I like schadenfreudistic(al(ly)) and I propose schadenfreudist or schadenfreudian. For the record, the adjectival form auf Deutsch is schadenfreudig.
[Fixed typo and added another adjectival form.]This message has been edited. Last edited by: jheem,
Ah, not trying to be cantankerous or anything, but I think we're stuck with only "schadenfreude," and it should be correctly pronounced, in my mind. Otherwise, our standards are different for different words, and that really is confusing.
Interestingly, OED seems to have changed.
Its quotations through 1895 are now surrounded by brackets which I don't believe were there when we looked back in 2004. Brackets mean "indicates a quotation is relevant to the development of a sense but not directly illustrative of it." The next citations are three cites from 1901-1920, suggesting that the word had a sudden upsurge in usage.
Maybe wordnerd persuaded them to change?
Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Speaking of "Schadenfreude," I found these quotes from Daniel Gross, in Newsweek (as reported in the Chicago Tribune):
"The very mention of the strong-dollar policy now elicits raucous bouts of knee-slapping in even the most sober Swiss banks. (How do you say schadenfreude in German?)"
"Since Bush's plea, oil has gushed to $110 a barrel. (How do you say schadenfreude in Arabic?)"
wouldn't the e-word have been a <searching Roget's under excellent> way cool choice here?!
How do you say balderdash and nonsense in your own native language ??
except that it doesn't seem to attempt Farsi at all.
Here's another ...
Agreed, tsuwm, about replacing it with the e-word...but I am on a short leash here, unfortunately, regarding that word.
Actually, my organization is hosting a national meeting next week which likely will bring in some media. As the moderator, I have thought about using the e-word and putting it out there. But...that might put me on a short leash at my workplace, too.