Antique mental furnishings, Part II

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See Part I for an explanation of what we're doing here.  


Felicity Carter, of Neustadt/Wein, Germany, writes: "We've got the word schadenfreude for taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. But where is the word for when the fortune of others makes you miserable -- for instance, when your rival succeeds. As Gore Vidal said, 'Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.'"

Ammon Shea replies: I'm always amazed at how easy it is to overlook the obvious gems of our language.  This is a great question, and I knew I'd seen this exact word somewhere.  So I started digging through several years of notes, looking for the appropriate obscure term that would match this definition.  I came across stomaching (feeling or cherishing indignation or bitterness), and hindermate (a companion who is a hindrance), but these words are only in the same general area. 

Ingrudge (secret enmity) is a bit closer, as is Job's comforter (a person who aggravates distress under the guise of administering comfort), but neither of these has the core meaning that we're looking for: the sense of discontent at the success of another. 

And then I finally decided to check the words that we all know, just to see if perhaps one of them had an earlier meaning of which I was unaware that might match.  The first word I looked up, envious, is defined in the OED as 'vexed or discontented at the good fortune or qualities of another.'  So there you have it, although I'm still partial to grudgement (envy, resentment).
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Visit Barbara Wallraff’s blog, at barbarawallraff .theatlantic.com, to see more commentary on language and to submit Word Fugitive queries and words that meet David K. Prince’s need. Readers whose queries are published and those who take top honors will receive an autographed copy of Wallraff’s most recent book, Word Fugitives. More

Barbara WallraffBarbara Wallraff, a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic, has worked for the magazine for 25 years. She is also a weekly syndicated newspaper columnist for King Features and the author of Word Fugitives (2006), Your Own Words (2004), and the national best-seller Word Court (2000). Her writing about language has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wilson Quarterly, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Magazine.

Wallraff has been an invited speaker at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the National Writers Workshop, the Nieman Foundation, Columbia Journalism School, the British Institute Library of Florence, and national or international conventions of the American Copy Editors Society, the Council of Science Editors, the International Education of Students organization, and the Journalism Education Association. She has been interviewed about language on the Nightly News With Tom Brokaw and dozens of radio programs including Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, and All Things Considered. National Public Radio's Morning Edition once commissioned her to copy edit the U.S. Constitution. She is a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel. The Genus V edition of the game Trivial Pursuit contains a question about Wallraff and her Word Court column.

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