Swedish word of the day: skadeglädje

Swedish word of the day: skadeglädje
Image: nito103/Depositphotos
This word describes quite an unpleasant emotion.

Skadeglädje is a compound word made up of skada ('damage') and glädje (joy).

It describes the cruel feeling of deriving pleasure (glädje) from someone else's misfortune (something that causes them skada).

You can also use the adjective skadeglad, which translates as 'happy at someone else's misfortune'. So to use either word in a sentence, you would say that someone är skadeglad or känner skadeglädje.

For example, if you're gleefully watching someone struggle down the street through sleet and snow, while you're safely indoors with a warm drink and the heating on, you might be skadeglad

The same would apply if you're a football fan and hear that the top player on the team up against yours is injured. That nasty feeling of relief and even happiness? That's skadeglädje. 

Skadeglädje is a direct translation from the German term Schadenfreude which means the same thing. But while the English language borrowed the German word directly (at some point in the 20th century), as did several other languages, the Swedes translates both components of the word.

The Norwegian and Danish languages also have the word skadefryd, while the Dutch translation is leedvermaak.

And before you draw the conclusion that a cold climate might lead to a particularly unfeeling attitude, it's not only the Germanic languages that have a word of phrase for the feeling.

The Russian translation is zloradstvo, while many Romance translations literally mean 'malicious joy', such as joie maligne in French and gioia maligna in Italian.


Skadeglädje är den enda sanna glädjen

Schadenfreude is the only true happiness

Hon kände en viss skadeglädje över exets problem

She felt a certain schadenfreude about her ex's problem

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  1. a piece from the Guardian in 2018 on whether we should feel good about feeling schadenfreude: “Sometimes we judge wrongly, and our schadenfreude leaves us feeling morally awkward. There is an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer’s infuriatingly perfect neighbour Ned Flanders opens a shop, The Leftorium. Given the chance to imagine three wishes, Homer fantasises that Ned’s business collapses. First, he sees the shop empty of customers, then Flanders turning out his pockets, then Flanders begging the bailiffs. It is only when Homer imagines Flanders’s grave, Flanders’s children weeping beside it, that he stops himself. “Too far,” he says, and quickly rewinds to the image of the bankrupt shop.

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