In Another Place (Sumpnado) I used the above word.
It is German and there is no known one-word equivalent in any other European language. In English, you would have to go with “serves-you-right” or Zen justice. But even those do not fully convey the visceral MEANING of the word.
One can only relate an example of it…
Many years ago, I was awakened – more than an hour before my alarm was due to go off – by a car-alarm doing the same thing. On and ON it went, thus totally negating its intended purpose.
For a while I lay pondering the reason we SAY an alarm goes off – when it obviously goes ON. Perhaps it is the same reason we say a building was blown UP.
Anyhay, I eventually bowed to the inevitable and got up. After a full HOUR of “parp-parp-parp-parp…” quietness suddenly returned to our suburban North London street. It was followed by “click-rurr-rurr-rurr… rur.” Then, “click-rurr-rur….” Then, “click… click…”
GOOD! I thought. The swine who ruined my sleep – whilst himself sleeping through the CAUSE – now has a flat battery. Justice.
But then he tried again. “Click-rurr-rurr-rurr-VEROOOOMM!” DAMN, I thought. Against all logic, his engine had started. I looked out of the window and frowned as I watched him drive off, down towards the main road.
At this point, I should set up what happened next. At that time, my journey to work involved a train – and to reach the station, I used a shortcut through some flats that led across the side-road next to mine.
And the turn into that road, from the main road, had a “no right turn” sign (since it was a bit near a blind hump-back bridge, which meant anyone going over said bridge too fast might plough into a turning car).
And since anyone ignoring the sign was easy meat for beat-cops, they would often lie in wait a hundred yards up the side-road, for offenders.
So, ten minutes after the guy who had started my day off BADLY had driven away – I set off for work.
And as I passed that next side-road – I saw him being NAILED by a cop.
THAT – is Schadenfreude.