zeal·​ot | \ ˈze-lət How to pronounce zealot (audio) \

Definition of zealot

1 : a zealous person especially : a fanatical partisan a religious zealot
2 capitalized : a member of a fanatical sect arising in Judea during the first century a.d. and militantly opposing the Roman domination of Palestine

Synonyms & Antonyms for zealot



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In the 1st century A.D., a fanatical sect arose in Judaea to oppose the Roman domination of Palestine. Known as the Zealots, they fought their most famous battle at the great fortress of Masada, where 1,000 defenders took their own lives just as the Romans were about to storm the fort. Over the years, zealot came to mean anyone who is passionately devoted to a cause. The adjective zealous may describe someone who's merely dedicated and energetic ("a zealous investigator", "zealous about combating inflation", etc.). But zealot (like its synonym fanatic) and zealotry (like its synonym fanaticism) are used disapprovingly—even while Jews everywhere still honor the memory of those who died at Masada.

Examples of zealot in a Sentence

zealots on both sides of the issue resorted to name-calling and scare tactics
Recent Examples on the Web The show’s primary antagonist, however, is Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a zealot associated with the god Ammit on a righteous (at least for him) mission that turns murderous. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 10 Mar. 2022 To speak up as a pro-life woman means your peers and professors will cast you off as an unsophisticated religious zealot. Myles Mcknight, National Review, 13 Feb. 2022 Graham went on Fox News in mid-October to claim Brazilian asylum-seekers were secretly rich, that Biden was an open-borders zealot, and that terrorists might be crossing the border. Felipe De La Hoz, The New Republic, 21 Dec. 2021 Of course, Indiana—home of super zealot Mike Pence—has already banned the pills after 10 weeks, however, so don’t bet on these pills being too widely available. Vogue, 1 Dec. 2021 The zealot — played by Toby Leonard Moore in TV clips — successfully ran for US President (on a ticket that included, no kidding, forgiving all student debts) and remains in power by employing The Volunteers as a national police force. Joe Leydon, Variety, 8 Oct. 2021 In her dying moment in the final episode – after the heinous plans of villainous zealot Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) have been defeated – Erin visits with Riley and delivers an elegiac monologue about God and human existence. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 25 Sep. 2021 But calling him an overbearing zealot would be missing the point. Keith Bierygolick, The Enquirer, 13 Aug. 2021 But the moralism is not entirely convincing; Lockwood is ultimately a zealot, looking more toward an all-internet future than a half-off half-online past. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, 5 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zealot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of zealot

1537, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for zealot

Late Latin zelotes, from Greek zēlōtēs, from zēlos

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Cite this Entry

“Zealot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zealot. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on zealot

Nglish: Translation of zealot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zealot


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