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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Kispert’s acute observational skills cut most sharply in fleeting moments of jealousy. New York Times, "Two Lies and a Truth: Story Collections Exploring the Spectrum of Human Honesty," 10 Mar. 2020 Exactly like junk food, some inputs feel good in the moment but take a toll over the long-term: gossip, brainless reality TV shows, jealousy-inducing social media posts, and mind-numbing small talk. Josh Linkner, Columnist, Detroit Free Press, "What are you feeding your mind? Hopefully not the mental equivalent of junk food," 14 Dec. 2019 Fueled by jealousy and rage, Lucy is driven to madness when her NASA colleagues deny her an opportunity to participate in an upcoming mission. Gina Martinez, Time, "Lucy in the Sky," 3 Oct. 2019 Koh, a former Louis Vuitton model, was arrested in January along with two others for stabbing Uzoka in the heart during a heated argument allegedly fueled by Koh’s jealousy over Uzoka’s successful career. Amira Rasool, Teen Vogue, "A Former Louis Vuitton Model Found Guilty of Murdering Fellow Male Model," 14 Aug. 2018 Lampy is an aimless 23-year-old being devoured by jealousy of his ex-girlfriend. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Revitalizing the Southern Gothic Style," 19 July 2018 Ill treatment, desertion, indifference, spite and jealousy could nearly always be tolerated. Moira Hodgson, WSJ, "‘The Lost Girls’ Review: High Minds and Slender Means," 31 Jan. 2020 Many vets try to guard their territory and view their backups with suspicion and jealousy. Ann Killion,, "If Patrick Mahomes beats 49ers in Super Bowl, Alex Smith deserves some credit," 29 Jan. 2020 Twenty people suspected of witchcraft were killed in Salem during a frenzy stoked by superstition, fear of disease and strangers, and jealousy. USA TODAY, "Lego impeachment, emotional support coyote, mumbo sauce: News from around our 50 states," 21 Dec. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of jealousy

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for jealousy

see jealous

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about jealousy

Time Traveler for jealousy

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for jealousy

Last Updated

23 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Jealousy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for jealousy


How to pronounce jealousy (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on jealousy

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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