: eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something : fervor
… they took office with an undisguised zeal to do everything differently …The Boston Globe
Choose the Right Synonym for zeal

passion, fervor, ardor, enthusiasm, zeal mean intense emotion compelling action.

passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.

gave in to his passions

fervor implies a warm and steady emotion.

read the poem aloud with great fervor

ardor suggests warm and excited feeling likely to be fitful or short-lived.

the ardor of their honeymoon soon faded

enthusiasm applies to lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity.

never showed much enthusiasm for sports

zeal implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause.

preaches with fanatical zeal

Example Sentences

… he was uncomfortable with their lavish parties and their collector's zeal for the most expensive, most ostentatious brand names—Rolex and Prada and Farragamo. Anne Tyler, Digging to America, 2006
In 1248, channelling his piety into crusading zeal, Louis embarked on the Seventh Crusade, against the wishes of the Pope and against the judgement of his counsellors. Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris, 2002
He showed his anatomical zeal by robbing a wayside gibbet, smuggling the bones back home and reconstructing the skeleton. Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, 1997
Recent Examples on the Web Implicit in the practice of American foreign policy, for decades, has been a kind of globalizing zeal. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2023 Donning colorful wigs, Aguilar and her friends took turns belting songs with zeal, punctuating verses with laughter. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 28 Nov. 2022 The film’s incidental politics are also groan-worthy, with those retro Russkies surely up to no good and interchangeable Afghan insurgents dispatched with such trigger-happy zeal. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 24 Oct. 2022 Altogether, this positioning alludes to a moment in time that is pushing us to lean into a soulful experience that will ignite our inner selves with passion and zeal. Lisa Stardust, refinery29.com, 8 Sep. 2022 Cash-strapped and ready to capitalize on the nation’s patriotic zeal, the studio turned its attention to propaganda, alternatively educating, entertaining and indoctrinating audiences. Marilyn Chase, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 July 2022 It’s got an incomparable minty-fresh kick that opens the scent, and graduates into a citrusy-green zeal that plays out for hours. Adam Hurly, Robb Report, 5 Apr. 2023 Biden’s veto threat comes a day after the House Oversight Committee advanced the resolution disapproving of the policing bill on a party-line vote, and as Republicans continue to dig into the city’s affairs with a zeal not seen in years. Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2023 The Giulia pulls away from stoplights with zeal while singing soaring Italian arias. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zeal.' 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 zele, from Late Latin zelus, from Greek zēlos

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zeal was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near zeal

Cite this Entry

“Zeal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeal. Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: eager desire in going for a goal

More from Merriam-Webster on zeal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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