Thursday, August 4, 2011

Daily Vocabulary

Today's word: Fremdschamen (literally, friend shame).

This word is one of those delightful German expressions, like Schadenfreude, that has no real English equivalent and yet really should.  Fremdshamen is the feeling of shame or embarrassment one gets on seeing a friend do something humiliating: hit on the wrong obviously unobtainable person, fall over drunk, bomb at karaoke.  It is not just fellow feeling, as you might have for anyone, but the painful, exquisite empathizing that can only happen with a friend, where you feel personally involved.  I don't know that it has much use in normal writing, but as a feeling, it is one that we all know, but don't use very often as a literary device. 

Plus, I just discovered the word a couple of days ago, and I think it's neat, so here it is.

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