Yet despite multiple attempts over the centuries, including a valiant effort by Hobbes, there’s no English word for “joy in another’s sorrow.” And so the German term “schadenfreude” — literally, damage-joy — which first appeared in English writing in 1853, was adopted.
Given that the previous paragraph in this review mentioned the Greek word epichairekakia, I thought it was odd that “epicaricacy” was ignored here. Searching inside the book on Amazon, the only mention of it was on page three, where the author dismissed its attempted introduction into English by “someone” in the 1500s. A quick Google search turns up a few citations including Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy and Joseph Shipley’s Dictionary of Early English, but Wiktionary claims that “there is little or no evidence of actual usage until it was picked up by various “interesting word” websites around the turn of the twenty-first century.” Ah. That explains the inevitable charge of “pretension” toward those who use the word, along with the selective rationales justifying its exclusion (too many syllables! Anglo-Saxon>Greek and Latin!). Just as “consumerism” is always the stuff that other people buy, “pretension” often seems to be the display of knowledge that I don’t have. “The bitterness of not perceiving oneself in the vanguard, the fear of missing out, and the leveling urge, all combined” — perhaps there’s an earthy, guttural Anglo-Saxon word for that.
It reminds me of something I said years ago: “Protestant simplicity for the transfer of essential information, Catholic grandeur for the playful spirit of creativity. Wouldn’t that be a good balance? Unfortunately, it feels like too many people are possessed with the spirit of Martin Luther when it comes to language these days, seeing the devil of artifice behind every unfamiliar word and an obfuscating fog in every wisp of incense smoke.”