envy

noun
en·​vy | \ ˈen-vē How to pronounce envy (audio) \
plural envies

Definition of envy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage
2 obsolete : malice
3 : an object of envious notice or feeling his new car made him the envy of his friends

envy

verb
envied; envying

Definition of envy (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to feel envy toward or on account of
2 obsolete : begrudge

intransitive verb

obsolete : to feel or show envy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from envy

Verb

envyingly \ ˈen-​vē-​iŋ-​lē How to pronounce envyingly (audio) \ adverb

Jealousy vs. Envy

Depending on who you ask, jealousy and envy are either exact synonyms, totally different words, or near-synonyms with some degree of semantic overlap and some differences. It is difficult to make the case, based on the evidence of usage that we have, for either of the first two possibilities. Both jealousy and envy are often used to indicate that a person is covetous of something that someone else has, but jealousy carries the particular sense of “zealous vigilance” and tends to be applied more exclusively to feelings of protectiveness regarding one’s own advantages or attachments. In the domain of romance, it is more commonly found than envy. If you were to say “your salt-shaker collection fills me with jealousy,” most people would take it to mean much the same thing as “your salt-shaker collection fills me with envy.” But if someone made a flirtatious comment to your partner, you would likely say that it caused you jealousy, not envy.

Examples of envy in a Sentence

Noun my envy of his success Their exotic vacations inspired envy in their friends. We watched with envy as the yacht slid past us. Verb I envy you for your large group of friends. I envy the way you've made so many friends.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Designed for backyard bridal showers and high tea, this lighting option will be the envy of every guest. Hillary Maglin, Travel + Leisure, "These Patio String Lights Will Transform Your Backyard Into a Summertime Sanctuary," 13 July 2020 This country’s free-market system is the most incredible wealth-creation machine in history and the envy of the world. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Hell no! Top conservatives fight ‘ignorant mob’ erasing American history, police, and flag," 9 July 2020 The Shanghai Composite is on a run that would make Nasdaq bulls green with envy. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Move over Nasdaq. This exchange has been killing it over the past month," 8 July 2020 The United States’ decentralized public health system, which matches federal funding and expertise with local funding, knowledge and delivery, was long the envy of the world, said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. Anchorage Daily News, "Hollowed-out public health system in US faces more cuts amid coronavirus," 1 July 2020 This latest tranche of Amazon jobs will be viewed with some envy from other English-speaking African countries with high youth employment and digital literacy including Nigeria and Kenya. Uwagbale Edward-ekpu, Quartz Africa, "Amazon has added 3,000 jobs in South Africa for Alexa and customers in US, Europe," 19 June 2020 Police work offers relatively high salaries, excellent benefits, and union protections; defense manufacturing workers similarly enjoyed some of the nation’s highest industrial wages and a degree of union density the envy of any organizer. Michael Brenes, The New Republic, "Lessons From the Long Movement to Defund the Military," 18 June 2020 Luckily, most people responded with envy, not disdain. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Work from home, but have no room? Buy an Airstream RV," 6 June 2020 Give this easy cleaning technique a try and your shiny windows will be the envy of the neighborhood. Nellah Bailey Mcgough, Southern Living, "The Most Efficient Way to Clean Windows," 29 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb American climate campaigners may well envy the European Union right now. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "The Obscure Treaty That Could Kill a Global Green Recovery," 8 July 2020 Trump seems to relate easily to undemocratic rulers and even to envy them. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "John Bolton’s Accidentally Unflattering Self-Portrait," 25 June 2020 Rather than envy others, work toward creating for yourself. oregonlive, "Horoscope for May 20, 2020: Happy birthday Timothy Olyphant; Cancer, use clear thinking," 20 May 2020 That may not last FEW WOULD envy their political leaders at times like this. The Economist, "Troubling symptoms The perils of politics in a pandemic," 13 Apr. 2020 But the celebrated bookseller, publisher and former San Francisco poet laureate nevertheless maintains an active lifestyle — and life of the mind — that anyone far younger would envy. John Mcmurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle, "Ferlinghetti speaks out at 99, his voice as vital as ever," 21 Mar. 2018 Beth is actually just envying Laurie’s vitality because she’s sick, but Jo thinks Beth is in love. Washington Post, "We watched 15 straight hours of ‘Little Women,’ and things got weird," 23 Dec. 2019 And so begins a tale in which the two hurt, love, goad and envy each other, traversing the spectrum of interpersonal behaviors from cruelty to utter tenderness. Time Staff, Time, "The 10 Best Fiction Books of the 2010s," 12 Nov. 2019 The Bruins are the team so many envy around the league. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Tough two-game stretch vs. Bruins, Blues will be the ‘measuring stick’ that proves if the Stars are true contenders," 26 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'envy.' 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 envy

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for envy

Noun

Middle English envie, from Anglo-French, from Latin invidia, from invidus envious, from invidēre to look askance at, envy, from in- + vidēre to see — more at wit

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about envy

Time Traveler for envy

Time Traveler

The first known use of envy was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for envy

Last Updated

18 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Envy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envy. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for envy

envy

noun
How to pronounce envy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of envy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has
: someone or something that causes envy

envy

verb

English Language Learners Definition of envy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to feel a desire to have what someone else has : to feel envy because of (someone or something)

envy

noun
en·​vy | \ ˈen-vē How to pronounce envy (audio) \
plural envies

Kids Definition of envy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a feeling of unhappiness over another's good fortune together with a desire to have the same good fortune He was filled with envy on seeing her success.
2 : a person or a thing that is envied

envy

verb
envied; envying

Kids Definition of envy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to feel unhappiness over the good fortune of (someone) and desire the same good fortune : feel envy toward or because of I envy you for your talent.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on envy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for envy

Spanish Central: Translation of envy

Nglish: Translation of envy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of envy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on envy

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!