The word schadenfreude, meaning "pleasure derived from others' pain", suddenly became extremely popular after its use in a 1991 episode of The Simpsons and has been prominent in our vernacular ever since. The noun was in use since the 1850s, but a lot of the early attestations just provided it as an example of interesting German word - it wasn't seamlessly integrated into English text until the start of the twentieth century. In German, the word is a bit of an etymological oxymoron, coming from schaden, meaning "harm", and freude, meaning "joy". Schaden is from Old High German scado, or "damage". That, through Proto-Germanic skatho, came from Proto-Indo-European sket, with the same definition. Freude traces to Proto-Germanic frawaz, meaning "joy", which came from PIE prew, "to hop". What a cool word!
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.