jeal·​ou·​sy | \ ˈje-lə-sē How to pronounce jealousy (audio) \
plural jealousies

Definition of jealousy

1 : a jealous disposition, attitude, or feeling a marriage destroyed by jealousy petty jealousies
2 : zealous vigilance cherish their official political freedom with fierce jealousy— Paul Blanshard

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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 jealousy in a Sentence

petty jealousies among political rivals a marriage ruined by infidelity and jealousy He was driven crazy with jealousy. He was unable to control his jealousies.
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Recent Examples on the Web Jones turns to the Bible parable of Cain, who killed his brother Able out of jealousy. Saphara Harrell, oregonlive, "He died a lonely motel death but it wasn’t because no one cared," 18 Apr. 2021 Just north of the border, Canadians—usually so smug about our universal health care—are looking on with jealousy. Tracey Lindeman, The Atlantic, "What Went Wrong With Canada’s Vaccine Rollout?," 6 Apr. 2021 Years on from its launch, most other streamers can only look at its success with jealousy. Andy Meek, BGR, "This was Apple’s biggest mistake over the past decade, one analyst says," 24 Feb. 2021 As the week begins, you may be challenged to avoid jealousy and unfair generalizations. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for April 11, 2021: Libra, you’re jealous of a loved one; Pisces, create the life you dream of," 11 Apr. 2021 They’ve been genetically chosen for genius, and nurtured in an egalitarian pod, far away from socioeconomic inequalities, but Burger ultimately asserts that there’s no arguing with human nature and the forces of desire, lust, jealousy and rage. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, "Review: The kids aren’t all right in the allegorical space adventure ‘Voyagers’," 7 Apr. 2021 Yellow roses symbolize either friendship and care, or jealousy and greed. Janet B. Carson, Arkansas Online, "Happy Valentine's Day," 15 Feb. 2021 Hemingway's dismissal of Jones' work, which would go on to win the National Book Award and be made into an Oscar-winning movie, may have stemmed from jealousy. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, "In Ken Burns' latest, you'll like Hemingway the artist more than Hemingway the man," 2 Apr. 2021 True, most of the life in this tale, which is considerable, comes from its principals—people rooted in a world where jealousy is summoned to life in an instant and knows no end. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘Atlantic Crossing’ Review: Harboring Royals and Passions," 31 Mar. 2021

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for jealousy

see jealous

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Learn More about jealousy

Time Traveler for jealousy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for jealousy

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jealousy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for jealousy



English Language Learners Definition of jealousy

: an unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has
: an unhappy or angry feeling caused by the belief that someone you love (such as your husband or wife) likes or is liked by someone else


jeal·​ou·​sy | \ ˈje-lə-sē How to pronounce jealousy (audio) \
plural jealousies

Kids Definition of jealousy

1 : a feeling of unhappiness and anger caused by a belief that a loved one might be unfaithful
2 : a feeling of unhappiness caused by wanting what someone else has

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Comments on jealousy

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