UNITED KINGDOM – The dictionary definition of “schadenfreude” will be updated after juicy details of two former News of the World editors’ private lives were splashed across tabloid newspapers.
Revelations of an ongoing affair between Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson that occurred as the two illegally uncovering details of other people’s private lives to further their own careers immediately caught the attention of dictionary officials.
The updated definition will go into the next version of the Oxford English Dictionary alongside updated definitions for “irony” and “comeuppance”.
What goes around
The news comes on a wave of public support from the public who took pleasure in hearing all the scandalous ins and outs including a love letter from Brooks to Coulson which was read out loud.
The details of the six year affair were heard in a court hearing in which prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told jurors he was not revealing the affair to deliberately intrude into the pair’s privacy but that it was a pleasant by-product of the legal process.
Officials at the dictionary said the entire situation captured the meaning of “schadenfreude” so well that an update to its definition was more than justified.
The digital edition of the dictionary would include a paparazzi photo of the pair hurriedly exiting the courtroom into a tinted car.
The OED is the first publication to make the change, but given the pure elation felt at seeing the two former editors receive their just deserts, the Merriam-Webster and Collins dictionaries are likely to follow with similar updates in the near future.
“The Oxford English Dictionary is a proud institution and steward of the English language. We don’t take matters of this nature lightly,” said Oxford University Press editor Michael Proffitt.
For these two in particular, “the fact that they were in this relationship, which was a secret, and the fact that secret is now very public, which is highly enjoyable, that’s why we’re changing the definition.”
“I mean, it’s perfect schadenfreude.”