jeal·​ous ˈje-ləs How to pronounce jealous (audio)
: hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage : envious
His success made his old friends jealous.
They were jealous of his success.
: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness
jealous of the slightest interference in household managementHavelock Ellis
: disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness
a jealous husband
: vigilant in guarding a possession
new colonies were jealous of their new independenceScott Buchanan
jealously adverb
jealousness noun

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Zealous vs. Jealous

Zealous and jealous share not just a rhyme, but an etymology. Both words ultimately come from the Latin zelus “jealousy,” and in the past their meanings were somewhat closer to each other than they are today. In the 16th and 17th centuries, zealous occasionally was used in biblical writing to refer to a quality of apprehensiveness or jealousy of another. By the 18th century, however, it had completely diverged in meaning from jealous, signifying “warmly engaged or ardent on behalf of someone or something.” Today, zealous often carries a connotation of excessive feeling: it typically means “fiercely partisan” or “uncompromisingly enthusiastic.”

Examples of jealous in a Sentence

His success has made some of his old friends jealous. She became very jealous whenever he talked to other women. He was in a jealous rage.
Recent Examples on the Web Emir, jealous by nature, becomes enraged and finds Emile’s new relationship intolerable. Jamie Lang, Variety, 16 May 2024 Then as an act of jealous hazing, Glinda gifts Elphaba the pointed hat and perhaps that is the birth of wickedness. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for jealous 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jealous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English jelous, from Anglo-French gelus, from Vulgar Latin *zelosus, from Late Latin zelus zeal — more at zeal

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of jealous was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near jealous

Cite this Entry

“Jealous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


jeal·​ous ˈjel-əs How to pronounce jealous (audio)
: demanding complete devotion
: feeling mean resentment toward a rival or competitor
: fearful of the loss of a loved one's devotion
jealously adverb

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