My neighbor has a hideous dog and I am afraid of dogs.
One day while I was returning home from my office, she was walking her dog. As I was frightened, I was frantic to open the door to my house. She had a smile on her face which she was trying to conceal as I was fearing.

Which word can I use here to describe her smile at my problems/fear?

  • 2
    Depending on the nature of her smile, (was she downright mean-spirited (a sneer), or was she amused at your overreaction (a smirk), or maybe it was a derisive smile if she regarded you with contempt. There's lots of different "smiles" she might have used.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 2:23
  • If you'd accept an adjective instead of a noun, you could consider words like unsympathetic or insensitive.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 9:09
  • It's also possible that she had a nervous smile, in which case the smile might not have been mean-spirited at all.
    – user230
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 11:20
  • Could it be a "gloating smile", or is "gloating" too outward, unfitting the "trying to conceal" bit? Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 11:37

2 Answers 2


I think the perfect word is one that English speakers routinely borrow from German. You could say that the woman “could hardly conceal her schadenfreude upon seeing my dismay.”

From Google:

scha·den·freu·de (Hear it pronounced)
1. pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.
Origin: German Schadenfreude, from Schaden ‘harm’ + Freude ‘joy.’

From Wikipedia:

Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This word is a loanword from German. The literal English translation is 'Harm-Joy'. It is the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune.

  • While I generally love the word "Schadenfreude" (though it makes us Germans look bad for creating it, but we are used to being the bad guys), but based on the specifics of the question here, I don't think it is the best choice. I think smirk fits better. Schadenfreude is more about being glad about a mishap that happened to someone. It might be different if the OP just stepped in some dog poo. Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 14:09

I think the word you are looking for is smirk.

Websters online says:

smirk verb \ˈsmərk\

to smile in an unpleasant way because you are pleased with yourself, glad about someone else's trouble, etc.

One of the characteristics of smirking is that the person typically tries to stifle the smile.

Smirk is also the noun, e.g. "She had a nasty smirk on her face."

  • +1 I think this answer is a better choice. You could've confronted her by shouting from behind the door, "hey, what are you smirking at?"
    – Yuri
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 9:33

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