Monday, May 19, 2008


Bob Hale on Wordcraft alerted us to a possible synonym for epicaricacy or Schadenfreude, and that is the verb, to gloat. In fact, I've always thought a verb form or an adjective form of epicaricacy would be useful. There it is, Bob says. But is he correct? I've always used gloat to mean taking excessive pleasure in your own success, to the point of being arrogant. Yet, here are some dictionary definitions:
  • To feel or express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction: Don't gloat over your rival's misfortune.
  • To look at or think about with great or excessive, often smug or malicious, satisfaction: The opposing team gloated over our bad luck.

But even in those definitions, the definition itself seems slightly different from their examples. You can take great pleasure, even malicious pleasure, in your own fortune without considering a rival's misfortune, can't you?

I think gloat is similar to epicaricacy or Schadenfreude, but the difference is that Schadenfreude and epicaricacy are all about taking pleasure in another's misfortune, while gloating is all about taking excessive pleasure in your own success. Interestingly, neither Schadenfreude nor gloat are in's thesaurus; I wanted to see if gloat would be listed as a synonym for Schadenfreude.

I have to thank Bob, though, for the astute observation. What are your thoughts?


Cat said...

I agree with you, Kalleh. Gloat is similar, but the focus of your happiness is different.

See you soon! Yay!

goofy said...

Since Schadenfreude is a noun and gloat is a verb, you're not going to find one listed as a synonym of the other. Are you?

Kalleh said...

Well, I wouldn't think that would matter since the concept is the same, but perhaps you are right.