zealot

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for zealot

Synonyms

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

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 strongest resistance came from Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, who dismissed Becerra on Fox News on Tuesday as a left-wing zealot. Tal Kopan, SFChronicle.com, "California’s Xavier Becerra faces skepticism from Senate Republicans for Cabinet job," 8 Dec. 2020 Chuck advised, explaining that the local game warden was a zealot with an uncanny knack for showing up when least expected. Susan Casey, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: An Improbable Elk Hunt," 6 Dec. 2020 In their collective eye, the word environmentalist suggests an effeminate, sentimental tree-hugger who is probably also a gun-control zealot. Philip Caputo, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: The Old Man and the Mountains," 22 Nov. 2020 Obama appointed cost-benefit analysis zealot Cass Sunstein to head the OMB. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Will Biden Repeat Obama’s Mistakes?," 12 Nov. 2020 And it’s what powers the ideology of a frightening zealot named Tanner, who preaches a vague but powerful message of relief from this world. Washington Post, "Scott O’Connor’s ‘Zero Zone’ is a sophisticated thriller about the power of art," 5 Oct. 2020 For Mercedes, the personal rift is with her mother, a religious zealot who both condemns her daughter’s work and extorts her for money to throw at various church endeavors. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Prestige Drama Where Strippers Run the Show," 5 Sep. 2020 One believer, one consumer, one zealot in this space at an organic and unhurried pace. Rachel King, Fortune, "OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder on launching a hemp-infused sparkling water brand," 24 Aug. 2020 This, despite the fact that Trump and the religious zealots his White House serves have rolled back rights for LGBT people, imperiled their health, and even endangered their lives. BostonGlobe.com, "Hey Log Cabin Republicans, Trump is not your friend.," 22 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about zealot

Time Traveler for zealot

Time Traveler

The first known use of zealot was in 1537

See more words from the same year

Statistics for zealot

Last Updated

16 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Zealot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zealot. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for zealot

zealot

noun
How to pronounce zealot (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of zealot

often disapproving : a person who has very strong feelings about something (such as religion or politics) and who wants other people to have those feelings : a zealous person

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on zealot

What made you want to look up zealot? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!