Irregardless, schadenfreude is a glorious word

Irregardless, schadenfreude is a glorious word

As a former spelling bee champ growing up,I love words. As someone, who despite all her successes does not like standardized tests, I can dislike so-called “GRE” words. It’s a modern-day complicated relationship I hold with words. Nowadays, I go around making “word” index cards for my kindergarten son who is starting to learn to read. Words, words, words they are everywhere.

As with people, there are some words I love to hate and some words that are wicked to love.

I love to hate the word “irregardless” which in all fairness to it, is not a real word. Although, webster dictionary notes it has been used since the early 1900s but like Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect. Despite not being a real word, it is used quite often. It drives me bananas. There is a comedian by the name of Freddy Soto who noted that his dad, a Hispanic, would love the word regardless and would throw it into every other sentence and situation. His dad loved it so much that he would turn it into “eer-reegaardless”. Comedian George Lopez also has a riff on the word. Comedians have noted that oftentimes, people use the word irregardless oftentimes to show off their extensive vocabulary. Look at how both George Bush and Sarah Palin were crucified in the media for using irregardless. Every time I hear the word I cringe; especially when I hear it at professional conferences. I often have to suppress the urge to pinch the speaker’s cheeks. Now while I hate the word I do chuckle internally upon hearing others utter it. It tickles my funny bone and usually livens up a dull business meeting. It also serves to remind me that no matter how high-minded the individual is trying to be, they are a bit of a duffus.

Irregardlessly, in that vein, while I love to hate “irregardless” I love the word “schadenfreude” even more. It is a deliciously wicked sentiment and a great word for expressing it. The word refers to the pleasure one feels from the misfortune of others. Now put that way to sounds really mean-spirited.

I first came across that word over twelve years ago when I was teaching cultural psychology. See the thing is that the sense and expression of “schadenfreude” is so culturally nuanced. Its acceptability as an emotion is very culturally and contextually bound. What are we allowed to laugh at? What misfortunes can one poke a little fun at. For example, where is it ok or mot ok to laugh at someone who walks right into a pole? Such an incident is quite unfortunate but is not huge on the scale of misfortunes. How about the acceptability of laughing at those that backstabbed you to only have it bite them in the you-know what? I bet your love of schadenfreude depends on your love and belief in karma. Admittedly, I derive a sense of shadenfreude at the use of the word irregardless. Is that a bad thing?

In the 1990s, comedy television was king in the United States. At the heart of it all, comedies a form of collective schadenfreude. Then comedies waned a bit and dramas have reigned supreme since then. Actually, dramedies are the new thing which makes me believe that our love of misfortune has taken a bit of a dark turn.

Either way, schadenfreude is a glorious word. Try saying it out loud three times. Its wicked and will give you a moment of glee. Then back to the daily grind.

Inspired by schadenfreude and the daily prompt



Other thoughts

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11 replies »

  1. As a German I understand ‘Schadenfreude’ as the pleasure you experience when someone, who has been rather mean to you (basically had no good intentions in their actions) gets ‘damaged’ (Damage is the word for ‘Schaden’) by doing so.
    You feel instant justice of some sort and that may make you experience a certain amount of joy (rather than ‘pleasure’), which increases proportionally to the severity of the intended offense against you and perceived level of just punishment it brought onto the other.

    I do think its interpretation and subsequent referral in the English speaking cultures as: ‘getting pleasure out of someone else’s misfortune’ only, is a massively reduced and conceptually mis-representing interpretation of its meaning.

    I do love ‘Schadenfreude’, but purely for the above defined meaning.


    • Indeed it is amazing to learn about the local context and nuances to words. thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience with the word- hope you are having a great weekend.


  2. I heard it for the first time when I was watching ‘Boston Legal’. And, it happens that one forgets some new words that he comes across, but it has been years and instead I have become well versed with the word. It’s wickedness in a sophisticated form, which always is appealing.


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