I always enjoy listening to the “Hidden Brain” program on NPR.

My own brain often seems to play hide-and-go-seek, sometimes for hours,

and you do see so many folks in the news,

who might qualify for their own challenging treasure hunt “The Really Well-Hidden Brain.”

The last program I heard, was about “Envy, and it’s nasty cousin schadenfreude” (= taking pleasure in the troubles of others).

And the host, Shankar Vedantum, mentioned that while we have terms like envy, jealousy, etc.

we really don’t have a word for “taking pleasure in others’ success.”

Say no more!  I’ve got just the thing.

I cannot take credit, the coinage comes from my mom.

Upon hearing about this Hidden Brain topic, she created some new words, in two seconds flat:

Empathy + Celebrate = Empacelebrate

Empathy + Enthusiasm = Empathusiasm.

(They sound better than they look, just say them out loud.)

ex. “Let’s empacelebrate our friends’ success!

If you cannot bring yourself to do this, totally lacking in empathy, then you’re an empanada.

OK, I thought that last one sounded familiar, I just remembered, it was one of my favorite things to eat in Chile.

So we’ll keep working on that one, but I really like the other two.

Language & Words

Positive Thinking, Word of the Day


43 thoughts on “Positive Thinking, Word of the Day

    • Excellent article! thank you. I’m really surprised (dumbfounded, even) by how many words are familiar, that I never realized were in this category. It’s a really fun list, isn’t it?

      • Yes, English has latched on to the concept of portmanteau words and has created many, probably more than any other language. Wikipedia offers some German examples:

        Teuro’, combining ‘teuer’ (expensive) and ‘Euro’.
        Mainhattan, a combination of Manhattan and the river Main, for Frankfurt (a.k.a. Bankfurt from bank)
        Kreuzkölln, the Berlin area bordering between Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
        ‘Jein’ is a widely used contraction of ‘Ja’ (yes) and ‘Nein’ (no), to indicate a combination of the two.

        I also found the Norwegian example of Svorsk = svensk + norsk (“Swedish” + “Norwegian”).

    • Thank you. It may seem like an odd time for even a speck of levity, but while I’m not turning a blind eye, neither am I letting the maniacs get me down. We support the people and groups for real, concrete, positive change, and press on, as they say. Hope you and Nigel are doing well, and thanks for commenting. 🌞

      • Nobody can turn back the clock and the rest of us move on in one way or another. We’re a small country and the majority of people are pulling together, the outpouring of love and goodwill from all sectors of the community is amazing. We are both well thanks, and if the country can sustain this genuine warmth and solidarity then NZ is well-placed for the process of healing and recovery. When I clicked on your post, I was ready for a speck of levity!

  1. Interesting words! 🙂
    Btw, what does it say about “us Germans” vs. “you English/Americans”, that “Schadenfreude” is a German word with no equivalent in English?

    • Thanks, Pit. Maybe part of the explanation, is that Germans pioneered in psychiatry, and invented that word for example, so Angst, Weltschmerz, Schadenfreude, etc. were invented terms for newly-recognized maladies, and adopted by English practitioners when they learned from German professors? We also use Kindergarten, delicatessen, wunderkind, etc. all good things. Especially deli!! 🙂

  2. Well, one can always express “I am proud of you” but your words are more concise. And it would send folks scurrying for their dictionary or Wikipedia or just plain Googling…brain exercise. We all need it.

  3. I love that program and I heard that one as well. The whole schadenfreude thing is interesting. I have to confess that I experienced it last week and was able to use that word to express my feeling.

  4. I’m going to use empathusiasm the next time I play Scrabble with my mother who has this infuriating tendency to pull the most obscure words out of her magician’s hat during those rare times when it somehow happens there’s no good dictionary (Scrabble or otherwise) or reliable internet access for verification or no one is brave enough to contest her because she has been right so often.

    • Cool! It sounds pretty plausible, really, maybe it’ll fly.
      I don’t think I’ve ever won at that game, and never can find an Ace bandage to keep some vowels tucked up my sleeve.
      Does your mother bluff sometimes?

      • I don’t think she has ever bothered pulling any sort of bluff on me because I’m such an inferior opponent, it would be beneath her. She and my eleven year old make my head spin the way they bring convoluted strategy and math into the game. Both of them are far more apt to point out the flaws in my own words while trying to convince me to back out of a bad move (which ordinarily to their chagrin I will flat out refuse). More often than not they end up using me as some sort of pawn in their nasty battles against each other. For someone who’s so terrible at Scrabble I dunno why I enjoy playing so much, haha!

  5. Made up words are the best! In my head, I have my own micro-language, made up of all made up words. Sometimes I throw one into a conversation, when one seems to fit and sounds like a real word. Funny how people react, especially if you just keep talking like nothing happened…. 🙂

    • That’s great, Dale, I love the idea of just casually tossing it in there. Steve S. has a link in his comment, to an article on portmanteau words, and a lot of them are so natural-sounding, I’m sure they were accepted without question.

  6. I just mentioned empanadas to Gerard tonight. I met them in Houston, and developed quite a taste for them. The people who ran the empanada stand I frequented were from Argentina, and they knew their business. One savory, one sweet, and you had the perfect lunch — one that would evoke empathusiasm!

    It occurred to me that the other meaning of ‘portmanteau’ is a large trunk or suitcase. That works as a description for portmanteaued words, actually — since they’re meant to carry more meaning than fits in any single word. I like your mother’s suggestions. She clearly enjoys meandering down these em-paths.

    • Thank you! Well, even the monogamists find it a loaded term, it no doubt has a better chance of being added to the dictionary than mu mother’s inventions. And looking it up, an article mentions “unne” in Norwegian, and “Mudita” in Sanskrit, which I hadn’t seen before, so thanks again.

      • You are welcome.

        Synchronicity has been doing its magic; I only recently learned the word when it showed up last week in two of the podcasts I listen to and now I get to share my new found knowledge.

  7. melissabluefineart says:

    I love the word, “portmanteau”. I should look that up because I think in French it means something slightly different. Anyway, I like the words you and your mom cooked up. Empanadas take me back to Venezuela, and an international horse show my parents took me to when I was a kid. Instead of hotdogs, they sold empanadas in the stands and I’ve been a fan ever since. The horses were seriously cool, too!

    • That’s neat, I’ve only ridden a few times in my life, but I love horses. And if I’m ever tempted to gamble, which is really rarely, it’s way more fun at a racetrack than a casino.
      I like “portmanteau,” too. When I was a kid, I confused it with “Passepartout” the valet in the old “Around the World in 80 Days” movie, which I watched many times with my granddad.

      • melissabluefineart says:

        That brings a smile, thinking of the words we take for others when we are children. Or, for that matter, when we are older. I read a fun short story about a woman who was losing her hearing and having a marvelous time with the words she was mishearing.

  8. Excellent post, Robert. It was great fun reading and learning new made-up words, also in the comments. Not being a native speaker in English or German I have great respect and absolutely adore the impact of certain words like Weltschmerz, Schadenfreude, Schöngeist.

    We have our own invented fairish language, Klausbernd is really good at it and it always makes me smile to hear it, but please don’t ask me to write some! 🙂

    • Thank you, Dina. I’m always agog at people’s cleverness when they can construct their own language. What a wonderful and stimulating project!
      Years ago, I’d pore over JRR Tolkien’s, and I thought the script he invented was beautiful, too.

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