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The public humiliation of people placed in stocks is an example of epicaricacy

Epicaricacy is a human psychological response that entails the rejoicing at, taking joy in, or getting pleasure from the misfortunes of others. [1] [2] The term is derived from the Ancient Greek ἐπί (epi), "upon") + χάρις (kharis), "joy") +κακός (kakos), "evil").[3][4] Its German language equivalent, schadenfreude, is commonly used as a loan word in English.

Epicaricacy has similarities to envy, gloating, jealousy, sadism and sardonism.

Greek concept of epicaricacy[edit]

Aristotle cited this emotion as part of his classifaction of virtues and emotions.[5] In Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher uses a three part classification of virtues and emotions.[5] In this case, epicaricacy is the opposite of phthonos and nemesis occupies the mean. Nemesis is "a painful response to another's undeserved good fortune," while phthonos is "a painful response to any good fortune," deserved or not. The person experiencing epikhairekakos actually takes pleasure in another's ill fortune.[5][6]

Epicaricacy in the Age of Enlightenment[edit]

During the 17th century, considered by some to be the earliest part of the Enlightenment era in philosophy, Robert Burton in his work, The Anatomy of Melancholy, used the term to say, "Out of these two arise those mixed affections and passions of anger, which is a desire of revenge; hatred, which is inveterate anger; zeal, which is offended with him who hurts that he loves; and ἐπιχαιρεκακία (epikairekakia), a compound affection of joy and hate, when we rejoice at other men's mischief, and are grieved at their prosperity; pride, self-love, emulation, envy, shame, &c., of which elsewhere."[7]

Usage in literature[edit]

  • C.S. Lewis (1933). The Pilgrim's Regress. 'Our father was married twice,' continued Humanist. 'Once to a lady named Epichaerecacia, and afterwords to Euphuia..."[8]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Shipley, Joseph T. (1955). Dictionary of Early English. Philosophical Library. ISBN-13: 978-0806529264.
  2. ^ Novobatzky, Peter (1955). Depraved and Insulting English. Harvest Books. ISBN-13: 978-0156011495. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  3. ^ Bailey, Nathan (1737). Universal Etymological English Dictionary. London.
  4. ^ Bailey, Nathan (1751). Dictionarium Britannicum. London.
  5. ^ a b c Pedrick, Victoria (2006). The Soul of Tragedy: Essays on Athenian Drama. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN-13: 978-0226653068. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  6. ^ 2.7.1108b1-10
  7. ^ Robert Burton (1621). The Anatomy of Melancholy.
  8. ^ Google book search on Epichaerecacia

[[Category:Archaic English words and phrases]] [[Category:Greek loanwords]] [[Category:Emotion]] [[de:Schadenfreude]]