©2012-2017 jonathan 3D http://jonathan3d.deviantart.com/art/a-damp-squib-345103581
Schadenfreude – it’s a lovely word to roll off the tongue, maybe not so easy to spell. Its meaning, though, isn’t quite as delightful; taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. I’m sure we’ve all done it; especially when that smug TV personality or arrogant politician is knocked off their perch. Yep, it’s definitely a useful word, although maybe the fact that there is no exact English equivalent means it is a reminder of our Germanic roots?
I think we need an English antonym for this concept – a word meaning to take pleasure in the good fortune of others. We all love it when the underdog wins, we love hearing good news from family and friends, yet we have never really coined a word to express the feeling. I decided to search for ‘schadenfreude antonym‘ to see what Google could offer.
Firstly, I came across some threads on various sites about what the opposite of schadenfreude [ok, ok, I’m showing off ‘cos I have finally learnt how to spell it!] actually consists of. I was thinking of joy in the good fortune of others, yet some contributors suggest that the opposite would be to take pleasure in the fact that others had succeeded where you had failed [http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/61008/whats-the-antonym-for-schadenfreude]. Nope, I really don’t think we’re ready for a word to express joy in being beaten to the top job, losing out in love to a rival or seeing somebody choose the lottery numbers which you used last week and scoop the jackpot.
The Huffington Post has a similar take on it -[ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/francis-levy/what-is-the-antidote-to-o_b_8122652.html%5D. It offers unbelievably complicated German compound words to try to fill the gap, Vergangenheitsbewaltegung or Gesellschaftsgeschichte [I didn’t even try to spell these – hallelujah for ‘copy and paste’ functions!]. So, the search continued. ‘Compassion’ seemed to be the nearest concept which people could suggest, but this, to me, implies an element of misfortune with which one is emotionally and/or practically involved in a supportive way.
Last call – the good old OED. Despite offering several quotations, dating back to 1852, and a brief etymology of its German elements, all the OED could offer by way of definition was ‘Malicious enjoyment of the misfortunes of others’. No suggestions of synonyms or antonyms. So, as the original is a compound German word, I see no reason not to create a compound English antonym; and after much thought and head-scratching I offer you….
Gladyourlucky, or it could be shortened to glucky? Yup, Glucky works for me. Will it catch on? Let’s all try it and see.
PS – where do squid come into all of this? Basically, I was chatting to a friend yesterday about their New Year’s Eve party, and they said it hadn’t been too bad, but maybe it had been a ‘bit of a damp squid’ with hindsight. Squid are almost always damp, the fact they live in the sea sort of makes that a given. The correct phrase is ‘damp squib’ – squib being an explosive device which, if damp, would fail to perform.
This got my wandersome brain heading off in all directions – the ubiquitous fine tooth-comb; the phrases ‘head over heels’ or ‘cheap at half the price’. I will leave you to also ponder these and will be back, quite possibly with a gentle rant, on this subject very soon. BABVA*
*Be afraid, be VERY afraid.