I'm trying to find a German word that is the same as »Schadenfreude« but also has a tinge of empathy in it. Is there such a word?

  • I would suggest »Häme«. See also this list: synonyme.woxikon.de/synonyme/schadenfreude.php
    – Devon
    May 17, 2017 at 5:03
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    @Devon I'd say_Häme_ comes without 'a tingle of empathy'.
    – Arsak
    May 17, 2017 at 5:38
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    The point of "Schadenfreude" (gloating) is that you're taking pleasure in someone's harm. Thus there is already some empathy involved, just no sympathy. May 17, 2017 at 6:12
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    Could you add some context, e.g. a real-life situation where you would need such a word? This would help finding one. May 17, 2017 at 9:46

3 Answers 3


Maybe Belustigung? It's a more general term, neither restricted to harm nor to malice.

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    That's twice as bad.
    – Janka
    May 17, 2017 at 8:26
  • @Janka: Schadenfreude has always a malicious connotation, Belustigung not necessarily.
    – Pollitzer
    May 17, 2017 at 9:02
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    Ich empfinde "Belustigung" immer etwas hinterfotzig. Aber ok.
    – Janka
    May 17, 2017 at 12:32

There is the so called Schmunzelfehler which is an euphemism for a shortcoming in some good which doesn't really matter. For example a scratch on the backside of a cabinet.

It comes from schmunzeln, which means "to smile over something bad", and Fehler (error, mistake, failure).

Ihr Gesang war kaum auszuhalten.

— Oh, im Vergleich zur Band war das doch nur ein Schmunzelfehler.

I couldn't stand her singing.

Oh? Compared to the band it was merely a Schmunzelfehler.

  • Interesting, I've never heard 'Schmunzelfehler' before. Is this word specific for a certain area or subculture or similar?
    – Arsak
    May 17, 2017 at 12:53
  • I think it's specific for people who buy/sell second-hand (or second-choice) goods.
    – Janka
    May 17, 2017 at 13:27

I assume you are looking for a word that describes reacting to someone's misfortune in a humorous way, without the implied negativity.

I would suggest Stichelei. It is the German word for a taunt. (Note that this word can not be used for non-verbal reactions, a laughter for instance. But then again, the same is true for the English word.)

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