Word of the Day – “schade”

Hello everyone,

and welcome  to our German Word of the Day. This time, we’ll take a  look at



A really really cool word which might actually be the key to intuitively knowing the gender of like ANY German noun right when you see it.
And it’s also a great word to express disappointment.
Hmmm… I feel like I know where this is going.
But let’s jump right in and find out…

Let’s start our little tour with the noun der Schaden. The origin is the “not as ancient as Indo-European roots but still pretty ancient” Germanic root *skath- which was about the idea of hurting, damaging and which also pretty reveals the English side of the family… to scathe. But while scathe is pretty rare nowadays and only seen as unscathed (unharmed) , the noun der Schaden is the German word for a damage or defect.
Here is is as a stand alone…

And here are a couple of common compounds…

And of course we have to mention the word that has made it into all  “Top X Non-translatable German Words English should import”-lists ever.
Literally, it means harm-joy, damage-joy and it is the joy you experience about someone else’s misery. Sounds really awful, but I think everyone is guilty of it. Even Jesus!!
Like… I remember that one time, when Mattheus fell off the mule right after calling Jesus a Hippie. Jesus kept snickering the whole day. Anyway, examples…

So this is the noun der Schaden. And that’s exactly what schade was in the beginning… this noun. Well, without the n.
One way people would use it back then was to express that something sucks. Just like in English we say

  • ( It’s a) pity that….

they would say

  • Es ist ein Schade, dass… (not idiomatic anymore)
  • Lit.: It’s a damage that…

And by the way, French does the exact same they. There you say

  • “C’est dommage que…. “

Now, I don’t want to say that Germans like to whine, but Germans like to whine. And they used the phrasing so frequently that it got shortened and eventually schade lost all its noun-ness and turned into the word it is today… a marker that you think something is a pity.

That last one is an excerpt from a short story I’m working on, by the way.
It’s called 5000 Schades of Grey.
Hmmm…. no one is laughing…. schade!
Anyways, as you can see, it’s really useful and the exact translation varies depending on context. And that’s not all. There are also a couple of fixed phrasings. The first one is schade um (etwas sein)  and it means that something is lost in some way and that that loss is a pity.

And then there is zu schade sein, which expresses that something is too good to be lost or wasted.

Ugh… unicorns. It’s really schade that they’re so stuck up.
Anyway, so this is the word schade and even if you’re still a fledgling and you can barely make sentences, you can at least use schade as a one word exclamation. It’ll make you sound much more native speaker like.
Now of course there are a few other useful related words, so let’s take a look at those real quick before we wrap up.
They’re all pretty easy to guess though, I think. The idea of damage is super clear and you don’t need much mind yoga.

And then there are the two verbs  schaden and beschädigen. They’re both about doing damage but they’re not synonyms.
Beschädigen is more momentary, if that makes sense.  It’s about doing damage to an object at a point in time. It’s not limited to tangible things, but it doesn’t work for living beings. Oh, and it only talks about a partial damage. For damaging completely, the word is kaputtmachen.
Schaden on the other hand is more long term and a bit vague. And it works for in context of living beings.

Actually, there’s a third version, the verb schädigen, which is somewhere in the middle between the two but we’ll just do what the unicorn does with the forest cleaning schedule… ignore it :).
And that’s it for today. This was our look at schade and… what?… I forgot something? …. oohhhhh, the trick for guessing the noun gender. Oh well, that was of course nonsense. There is no such trick. But at least you now know what to say in a moment like this …
“You’re an idiot, Emanuel.”
Uh, that’s not what I meant.
As usual, if you have any questions or suggestions about schade or any of the other words, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

0 votes, 0 avg

Test yourself on schade!

1 / 7

What does the noun der Schaden mean?

2 / 7

What does it mean when you experience “Schadenfreude”?

3 / 7

Which of the following statements about schade is true?

4 / 7

Which preposition is missing in this sentence:

Schade ___ die ganze Arbeit.”
( “What a pity for all the work.”)

5 / 7

What’s a common colloquial way to respond to a let down/ disappointment? Like…
“What a pity.”

6 / 7

Which word completes the following sentence in the sense that alcohol is bad:
“Zuviel Alkohol kann ……..für die Gesundheit sein.’’

7 / 7

Which of the following words makes sense in this sentence:
“Der Monitor ist leicht………..., funktioniert aber noch” ?

Your score is


for members :)

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Für “Schadenersatz” würde Man einfach “damages” sagen. “Compensation” selber ist auch gut aber weniger eindeutig. “Compensation for damages” ist nicht so idiomatisch, deshalb hat dict.cc (for damages) eingeklammert.

Inzwischen ist “Schadenfreude” auch ein englisches Wort und wir behalten es, wenn es dir nicht ausmacht!

Das Gerundium von “scathe”: “scathing” ist immer noch ein beliebtes Adjektiv, insbesondere in Bezug auf harte Kritik und spöttischen Kommentar.

Das Substantiv von “gloat” ist das Gerundium “gloating” wie “Full of gloating, Maria…”

Toller Artikel wie immer Emanuel. Tschüss!


“Gloat” ist auch ein Substantiv, aber es braucht einen Artikel oder Aufzählung und beschreibt was passiert würde. Z.b. “I had a little gloat at that”.


If the car manufacturer has to pay because they lost a lawsuit, I think you would just say. “The car manufacturer has to pay damages.”


More idiomatic would be: Gloating, Maria tells her friend about Thomas’ TedTalk disaster. Or, Maria gloated about Thomas’ Ted Talk-disaster.

We’ve always used “Schadenfreude” in English, to mean just what it means in German. Some Swedes use it, as well, but most don’t know what it means, they use, “Skadeglädje” which is “Skade” Schade/harm, “Glädje” Freude/joy.

However, in English, we pronounce it, “Shadenfreud” – those who attempt to sound worldly attempt the throaty “r” instead of the sharp American “r”.
The more you know…

In Chicago, we also say, “Es ist kälter als eine Hexentitte draußen” – dunno if that translates as well, (Colder than a witche’s tit out there) but it be mighty cold from Duisburg, Deutschland all the way up to Göteborg, Sweden right now. We’re talking, -0° degrees and wind. Not very cosy at all. Stay warm!


This word reminds me of my favourite German street sign Straßen Schaden lit street damaged. Direct and to the point. It was one of the first times when I started learning German that I realised the directness it had. Like the one time in Bavaria when I came across an old water well pump in margetshöchheim. The sign said kein Trinkwasser. Love it.


“useful creatures” is better said “beneficial” creatures or fauna, perhaps?


Hello everybody, i’m one of the newest members of the community, if not the newest, and what i’m gonna say now will not be relative to this article. Sorry for that..

I just wanted to say “thank you!” to those who helped me be a member of German is Easy community, along with the team who are doing their best to teach people whatever they know.

So, thank you ladies and gentlemen for sharing your knowledge with the world, and me,
Aand iloveyou!

Sincerely, me.

P.S: You are the best!


hallo, der meisterröster ist wieder da.

“Schaedlingen” would probably be “pests” – as in what “pesticide” is designed to kill (harmful insects), but accidentally ends up killing honeybees and destroying the world.

Schadenfreude is totally used in English, usually as *the* example of what a loan word is. It’s even explicitly referenced in an episode of the simpsons – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B01e7n4RzZc

just me
just me

I agree with Sid that “beneficial” is a better choice than “useful,” but “fauna” would still sound awkward. If by “creatures” you mean animals, then “beneficial animals.” Otherwise, if “useful creatures” meant the opposite of small pests, bugs, or disease-carrying bacteria, you’d say, “beneficial organisms.”

As to the English “to scathe,” yes, the verb form is pretty rare, but the adjective “scathing” is used a lot, as in a scathing reply or a scathing movie review. Scathing means ‘severe’ or ‘critical,’ with a connotation that the speaker is very bitter about it. If you are going to post on political comment boards, sooner or later you’ll receive a scathing rebuke.


In talking of things in gardens “beneficial” is probably most used with “insects”, but that could be broadened to “beneficial creatures” to include other members of the animal kingdom. Although they’re no more or less created than animals “creature” doesn’t tend to be used for plants, bacteria, fungi,… “Organisms” covers all living possibilities. Plants that are grown for useful effects on the desired ones are often called “companion plants”. It’s all so much clunkier than “Nützling.” I’d vote for English adopting that, too, though it would be more likely to be mispronounced than “Schadenfreude”.

Is there any difference in tone, or anything else, between “schade” and “wie schade”?


The question could have been explained a bit.
I can recall being told by a non-native speaker that “wie schade” is more proper as an expression of sympathy than “schade” alone. I’ve also come across the idea that “wie schade” is more mocking than genuine. Does the use, or not, of “wie” really make any difference?


Hi Emanuel!
‘Einpullern’ – is that really a word? And does it really mean ‘peeing in your pants’?


Let me give another view on the difference between “beschädigen” und “schaden”.
“schaden” implies a loss in quality while “beschädigen” implies gaining damage, if that makes sense. So “schaden” looks more at the result compared to what was before the damage occured. “beschädigen” looks more at the actual damage. If you had a car crash, “der Schaden” would be the monetary damage (“Totalschaden” = “total write-off”), “die Beschädigung” would describe a broken light and bumper. And in less literal damages like a damage to a reputation or health, “beschädigen” might not work as well.
The border is not very strict and “Schaden” can take on the meaning of “Beschädigung” if it is not ambiguous.

As little excuse for my rambling two connected words:

“schadhaft”: defective, faulty

“unbeschadet”: 1. adverb: unscathed (“etwas unbeschadet überstehen” = “to come out unscathed”) 2. preposition: without prejudice to/save (“unbeschadet aller Rückschläge” = “regardless of all setbacks”) [this one is only written, formal German]

Andrés AG

Danke Emanuel, ich hatte bisher einen schlechten Tag aber nachdem ich dein Post gelesen habe, wird alles besser. Deine Witze finde ich wirklich lustige. :) Danke nochmal.


Found this idiom: Dafür ist mir mein Geld zu schade. (I have better things to waste my money on.) Can one say, „Dafür is mir meine Zeit zu schade“? (I have better things to waste my time on.). Not sure if the former is a fixed idiom.

Dorie LaRue
Dorie LaRue

So I’ve been using this word all these years that apparently doesn’t exist: schadenfreund. Damaging friend, or frenemy.


This is all tremendously interesting and fun. Bravo for that. But it brings to mind the horrible thought that if it is true that the ultimate German soul delights in another’s misery, well you can see the roots of the concentration camps. Scare.


Ok danke für die Erklärung. Ich wollte immer wissen den Unterschied zwischen schaden und beschädigen. Ich hab trotzdem “zu schade sein” nicht voll verstanden. Warum ist es “ist sich das Einhorn” ? Mein Gehirn bevorzugt “ist sich dem Einhorn”.