jeal·​ous | \ ˈje-ləs How to pronounce jealous (audio) \

Definition of jealous

1 : 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.
2a : intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness jealous of the slightest interference in household management— Havelock Ellis
b : disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness a jealous husband
3 : vigilant in guarding a possession new colonies were jealous of their new independence— Scott Buchanan

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Other Words from jealous

jealously adverb
jealousness noun

Synonyms for jealous


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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web However, focusing might not be the easiest thing to do when power-hungry Pluto sends out a jealous beam to the emotional Moon, throwing an emotional wrench in the works. Tarot Astrologers,, "Daily horoscope for May 9, 2021," 9 May 2021 The plot hews to myth too, playing off the story of Artemis being tricked into killing her lover, Orion, by a jealous Apollo. Mark Athitakis, USA TODAY, "'Olympus, Texas' reboots Greek gods in irreverent Texan family saga," 6 May 2021 Unfortunately, new technologies are expanding the opportunity for oppression, an issue addressed in a separate chapter: Faith groups perceived as a direct challenge to a jealous atheist system are, and will increasingly be, watched. Doug Bandow, National Review, "The Perilous State of Religious Freedom Worldwide," 2 May 2021 Unable to accept due to a scheduling conflict, Hunter urged McDormand to audition for the film, a neo-noir about a jealous saloon owner who hires a hitman to take out his wife and her lover. Keaton Bell, Vogue, "Frances McDormand’s 10 Best Roles, From Fargo to Nomadland," 23 Apr. 2021 In an earlier era, green referred to grass and trees and jealous eyes. William Nordhaus, Time, "The Case for Abandoning 'Corporate Responsibility' When We Judge Company Practices," 20 Apr. 2021 This threesome is a special bunch with skills that complement each other, a group where ego — at least to this stage — hasn’t reared its jealous head. David Moore, Dallas News, "Pre-draft position preview: WR trio gives Cowboys chance to be among NFL’s most explosive offenses," 7 Apr. 2021 In 1934, one lover, a merchant marine, burned around 200 of Neel’s drawings and destroyed more than 60 of her paintings in a jealous rage. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, "The Detonations of Alice Neel," 6 Apr. 2021 One of the most compelling mōʻōlelo is the story of how Pele, the volcano deity, sent torrents of lava to destroy her sister's forested domain in a jealous rage. Jill Robinson, Travel + Leisure, "3 Female National Park Rangers on Their Career Paths and Love for the Great Outdoors," 31 Mar. 2021

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

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First Known Use of jealous

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

History and Etymology for jealous

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

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Time Traveler for jealous

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jealous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for jealous



English Language Learners Definition of jealous

: feeling or showing an unhappy or angry desire to have what someone else has
: feeling or showing unhappiness or anger because you think that someone you love (such as your husband or wife) likes or is liked by someone else
somewhat formal : very concerned about protecting or keeping something


jeal·​ous | \ ˈje-ləs How to pronounce jealous (audio) \

Kids Definition of jealous

1 : feeling anger because of the belief that a loved one might be unfaithful a jealous husband
2 : feeling a mean anger toward someone because he or she is more successful
3 : careful sense 1, watchful We are jealous of our rights.

Other Words from jealous

jealously adverb

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