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    #1

    glee

    Hello again. I want to know for a poem of mine, what exactly means 'glee'? In one old dictionary, it says: 'feeling of joy caused by success or triumph'. But the other dictionary says, and a new one: 'great merriment or delight, often caused by someone else's misfortune.' So I ask you: whom do I believe? I could use the second version, the one with someone else's misfortune, but will I make a fool of myself if I do? Sure, usually, the thing is, simply to trust dictionaries. But, a few times, the same dictionaries made me look stupid, for they provided the wrong definition of a few words I needed. Thanks if you are certain about this.


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    #2

    Re: glee

    Which dictionaries are these? Both Webster's and American Heritage define it as plain joy, no mention of schadenfreude to be seen. I believe that, especially recently, the word has taken on an unfortunate tinge of association with the kind of person who enjoys other's misfortune; for instance, there are 13,500 Google hits for the phrase "evil glee." However, "glee" is also associated with children, and the pure joy they often express; this has even been studied. :)

    It's also an old-fashioned kind of word; no one founding a singing group today would call it a "glee club." I'm not sure I've ever used it in conversation except with some self-conscious irony, which might explain why it's getting paired with "evil" so often. Perhaps not the right choice for your poem, after all.

    [native speaker, not a teacher]
    Last edited by Delmobile; 20-Dec-2007 at 18:55.

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    #3

    Re: glee

    Hi idiomatics,

    You might see the two different meanings of "glee" in WordWeb.

    1. great merriment (hilarity)

    2. malicious satisfaction (gloat, crow)

    malicious = having the nature of or resulting from malice
    crow = to exult loudly, as over another's defeat; boast
    gloat = to feel or express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction: Don't gloat over your rival's misfortune.

    There are a few synonyms of "glee": delight, exultation, excitement, exhilaration, gladness, joy, joyfulness, liveliness, pleasure, triumph, gloat, hilarity, mirth.

    Regards.

    V.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: glee

    Quote Originally Posted by Delmobile View Post
    ...
    It's also an old-fashioned kind of word; no one founding a singing group today would call it a "glee club." I'm not sure I've ever used it in conversation except with some self-conscious irony, which might explain why it's getting paired with "evil" so often. Perhaps not the right choice for your poem, after all.

    [native speaker, not a teacher]
    I think the phrase "glee club" refers not so much to the emotion of "glee" but to the noun* meaning "unaccompanied part-song" - Online Etymology Dictionary

    I agree with the bit I've deleted though!

    b

    PS *I know in the main meaning of "glee" it's a noun as well, but in the case of the song-like sort of "glee" it's a countable noun - one sang a glee.
    Last edited by BobK; 20-Dec-2007 at 19:08. Reason: Added PS


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    #5

    Re: glee

    BobK, do you not think the association of "delight" carries over into the term "glee club"? The two different meanings do appear to be linked etymologically. Maybe this is only my peculiar mental association though, because I so love to sing, and find the idea of college boys still competing to join the "Harvard Glee Club" so endearing...

    Anyway, even without the song part, I still maintain that it's an old-fashioned word. If it didn't rhyme so handily with "his-tor-y" in the Rudolph song, I doubt many Americans would even know it.

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    #6

    Re: glee

    Thanks you menage a trios, but for now, 'evil glee' catches my eye the most. Sure, it is an old word, and some die out of dysentery when they hear it, but being an acquired taste, I do use it sometimes. After all, there are lovely archaic poems out there, right? And just if you are modern, it doesn't automatically mean that your poems are better than old ones. Good is good, old or new, but yes, you do have a certain point. But to me, this point doesn't mean all that much, for people, even today, learn Latin, right? And why do they learn this real old and dead language in fancy schools? Because they are rich doctors, well, some are. Maybe this isn't much of a point, but it does address certain attitudes. People drink Coca-Cola, and forget about daffodils.

    But, enough with chitchat for now: can I use 'evil glee', seriously? Just like that, I say in my poem 'evil glee', short for great merriment or delight, caused by someone else's misfortune, literally. Is that fine? Can I mention 'evil glee' just like that, w/o possibility of embarrassment? I guess this topic is not over yet. Or is it?


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    #7

    Re: glee

    I think "evil glee" has been overused almost to the point of cliche. Sort of like "drunk with power" or "blind ambition." Certainly these phrases still have meaning, and goodness knows there are enough examples all around us, but I don't know as I'd put them in a poem---not a serious one, anyway. If you are writing a formal toast for your organization's annual holiday party, then sure.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: glee

    Quote Originally Posted by Delmobile View Post
    BobK, do you not think the association of "delight" carries over into the term "glee club"? The two different meanings do appear to be linked etymologically. Maybe this is only my peculiar mental association though, because I so love to sing, and find the idea of college boys still competing to join the "Harvard Glee Club" so endearing...

    Anyway, even without the song part, I still maintain that it's an old-fashioned word. If it didn't rhyme so handily with "his-tor-y" in the Rudolph song, I doubt many Americans would even know it.

    Yes indeed - and the 'song' meaning is what the OED calls 'secondary'; a glee is always gleeful, and people singing it are always smiling.

    And I agree about it being old-fashioned; your point about the Rudolph song is right on! I hadn't thought of that - though I've long been aware that traditional songs often preserve old words/pronunciations/meanings.

    b

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