January 06, 2008


I've noticed a recently-renewed fad for political neologisms constructed by analogy to Schadenfreude "malicious enjoyment of the misfortunes of others" (from German schaden "harm" + freude "joy"). Ben Zimmer blogged about Bushenfreude, Deanenfreude, and Frankenfreude just about a year ago ("Googlefreude, googleschaden, Schadengoogle", 1/2/2007). The recent politicianfreude surge started with Huckenfreude , defined by Russ Douthat as "Pleasure derived from the outrage of prominent conservative pundits over the rising poll numbers of Mike Huckabee".

Not far behind was Mittenfreude, which seems to mean "Malicious enjoyment of the misfortunes of Mitt Romney"; and a commenter at TPM recently wrote that

It's almost getting to the point where my Mittenfreude is as powerful as my Giulianenfreude...

Given the emotional tone of the current race, it's probably not an accident that in the case of Huckenfreude, the pleasant misfortune is not Governor Huckabee's, but rather belongs to the conservative pundits who are annoyed at their evangelical base for venturing out of the servants quarters into the drawing room, whereas with the words built on the names of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, the misfortune being enjoyed is that of the referenced politicians themselves.

I haven't found any similar formation based on the names of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but I predict we'll see them soon, and I think it's clear what the semantics will be like.

[Update -- a bit more web searching turns up an example of Obamenfreude, which (as I expected) works like Huckenfreude rather than like Mittenfreude:

Huckenfreude and Obamenfreude! What fun to watch the Establishment in both parties take a beating! Lady Macbeth get the message that the coronation may not be a sure thing and the GOP suits who never meant for those God Con weirdos to do anything other than shut up and rubber stamp their plans are all in a tizzy. Very fun!


[Update #2 -- Whether your guilty pleasure comes from certain candidates' failures (Mittenfreude, Giulianenfreude), or from the effect on established pundits and politicos of other candidates' successes (Huckenfreude, Obamenfreude), you'll want to celebrate with a nice piece of Schadenfreude Pie.

(Hat tip: Amy Forsyth) ]

Posted by Mark Liberman at January 6, 2008 11:07 AM