from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Envious or resentful of the good fortune or achievements of another.
  • adjective Fearful or wary of losing one's position or situation to someone else, especially in a sexual relationship.
  • adjective Having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness.
  • adjective Vigilant in guarding something.
  • adjective Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity; autocratic.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To suspect; distrust.
  • Full of zeal; zealous in the service of a person or cause; solicitous for the honor or interests of one's self or of another, or of some institution, cause, etc.: followed by for.
  • Anxiously watchful; suspiciously vigilant; much concerned; suspicious.
  • Specifically Troubled by the suspicion or the knowledge that the love, good will, or success one desires to retain or secure has been diverted from one's self to another or others; suspicious or bitterly resentful of successful rivalry: absolute or followed by of with an object: as, a jealous husband or lover; to be jealous of a competitor in love or in business, of one's mistress, or of the attentions of others toward her.
  • Fearful; afraid.
  • Doubtful.
  • Synonyms See envy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Zealous; solicitous; vigilant; anxiously watchful.
  • adjective Apprehensive; anxious; suspiciously watchful.
  • adjective Demanding exclusive devotion; intolerant of rivalry.
  • adjective Disposed to suspect rivalry in matters of interest and affection; apprehensive regarding the motives of possible rivals, or the fidelity of friends; distrustful; having morbid fear of rivalry in love or preference given to another; painfully suspicious of the faithfulness of husband, wife, or lover.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Suspecting, suspicious.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective suspicious or unduly suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival
  • adjective showing extreme cupidity; painfully desirous of another's advantages


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English jelous, from Old French gelos, jealous, zealous, from Vulgar Latin *zēlōsus, from Late Latin zēlus, zeal; see zeal.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First coined 1382, Old French jalous, from Late Latin zelosus, from Ancient Greek ζῆλος (zēlos, "zeal, jealousy"), from ζηλόω (zēloō, "to emulate, to be jealous"). Cognate to zeal.


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  • No I'm not!

    July 21, 2008

  • Have we discussed the difference between jealousy and envy around here anywhere? Is there a difference? I always think of jealousy as fear of losing something you already have and envy as desiring something you don't have. But I don't know that people make that distinction anymore (if they ever did).

    November 18, 2011

  • Jealousy can have that meaning, but I think it's most often used synonymously with envy. But it's a nice distinction.

    I'm a fan of the word envy. It's all scrunched-up and spiteful-sounding.

    November 18, 2011

  • Ru, that is the way I have always understood the distinction. But since the phrase, "I'm so jealous!" (which really is a kind of compliment when said to a friend -- meaning, essentially and paradoxically, "I celebrate your good fortune") has become ubiquitous, the finer distinction may be lost on the hoi polloi.

    November 18, 2011

  • That distinction is great! Just looked it up, and God is referred to as jealous in the Bible, but never envious. Very cool. :)

    November 19, 2011

  • In fact, the distinction is still very much alive in certain contexts. I don't think anyone would disagree that "a jealous husband" means something very different from "an envious husband". But whereas "envious" still cannot mean what "jealous" has traditionally meant (fearful about losing something one thinks one possesses); "jealous" has been encroaching on the territory of "envious".

    November 19, 2011

  • Lennon's dead so you'll have to do your own version of 'Envious Guy'.

    November 19, 2011