• mudita •Pronunciation: mu-di-tah • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Joy in someone's happiness, good fortune.
Notes: English borrowed the German word for "joy in someone's misfortune", Schadenfreude, but has no antonym for this word. There is an effort abroad on the Web to adopt this Pali word for "joy" in the Buddhist sense of the word. It has not made it into any dictionary so far, but wordhood needs not be legitimized in any way but broad acceptance.
In Play: Here is an example of its use submitted by today's contributor: "Even though I was relegated to second place in the art competition, the winning entry was so exquisite that my whole being swelled with mudita, and I heartily congratulated the winner." Around Christmastime this word would be useful for parents and grandparents: "The children's joy opening their presents filled parents and grandparents alike with great mudita."
Word History: This word goes back to PIE meu- "wet, wash, clean", extended by a suffix -d: meu-d-. It must have had a Fickle N, because it emerged in Latin as mundus "clean". Ancient Greek had mudos "wet, rotting" without the N. Sanskrit had a family of words around our Good Word today: modate "funny", modanan "happiness", and muda "lust". Lithuanian mudrus "lively, blithely" and Russian muslit' "to slobber" are thought to be of the same origin. Wetness apparently was associated with washing, washing with cleanliness, and cleanliness with happiness. (Gordon Wray was disappointed that we had no antonym for schadenfreude, so he suggested today's newest of the new Good Words as a remedy.)