Norwegian word of the day: Skadefryd

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Skadefryd
Pictured is Norway's word of the day, skadefryd, on a blackboard. Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Today's Norwegian word of the day has a distinctly German feel to it. 


What does it mean? 

Norwegian is a North Germanic language, and skadefryd is an example of a word drawn from Norwegian's German origins and shares no English equivalent. 

Skadefryd is the Norwegian word for the German word schadenfreude. The term originated in the 18th century and has no direct English translation or equivalent. 

The German word is a compound of Schaden, meaning (damage/harm) and Freude (joy). However, the Norwegian word isn't a compound but instead a translation of the German original. 


However, some of you reading, who don't know much German, may have heard the word schadenfreude. This is because it has slowly started to enter the English vocabulary as a word that sums up a very specific feeling. 

Essentially, schadenfreude is when you feel joy or satisfaction in somebody else's misfortunate. 

For example, feeling glad to find out a colleague you didn't like has been fired is a good example of skadefryd. 

Feeling pleasure in smaller misfortunes is also an example. People typically find the concept of other people falling over quite funny. 

Philosopher Theodor Adorno has defined skadefryd as "mainly unexpected joy at another's suffering that is noted as everyday and/or appropriate". 


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