zealot

noun
zeal·​ot | \ˈze-lət \

Definition of zealot 

1 : a zealous person especially : a fanatical partisan a religious zealot

2 capitalized : a member of a fanatical sect arising in Judea during the first century a.d. and militantly opposing the Roman domination of Palestine

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Synonyms & Antonyms for zealot

Synonyms

crusader, fanatic, ideologue (also idealogue), militant, partisan (also partizan), red hot, true believer

Antonyms

nonmilitant

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Did You Know?

In the 1st century A.D., a fanatical sect arose in Judaea to oppose the Roman domination of Palestine. Known as the Zealots, they fought their most famous battle at the great fortress of Masada, where 1,000 defenders took their own lives just as the Romans were about to storm the fort. Over the years, zealot came to mean anyone who is passionately devoted to a cause. The adjective zealous may describe someone who's merely dedicated and energetic ("a zealous investigator", "zealous about combating inflation", etc.). But zealot (like its synonym fanatic) and zealotry (like its synonym fanaticism) are used disapprovingly—even while Jews everywhere still honor the memory of those who died at Masada.

Examples of zealot in a Sentence

zealots on both sides of the issue resorted to name-calling and scare tactics

Recent Examples on the Web

Good both for Instagram addicts and flat Earth zealots. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "A ticket on Jeff Bezos’ space tourism rocket will cost at least $200,000," 13 July 2018 Donald Trump’s election and his choice of zealot privatizer Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education bolstered reformers but has also made more Americans wary. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What and who is fueling the movement to privatize public education — and why you should care," 30 May 2018 People don’t know how to confront these evils, which come in nearly every direction, in the form of theological zealots, demagogic populists, avowed racists, and trollish misogynists. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018 Despite what the zealots say, there’s lots of data suggesting humans can survive — and even thrive — on myriad eating patterns. Julia Belluz, Vox, "This Mediterranean diet study was hugely impactful. The science just fell apart.," 20 June 2018 In Onion’s telling, John Brown is a wild-eyed zealot, a cartoonish madman who talks like Yosemite Sam and prays for hours on end but whose madness and prayers are nevertheless devoted to the abolition of slavery. WSJ, "Randall Fuller," 1 June 2018 But when should even the most fervent late-round quarterback zealot consider taking one of the top passers? Michael Beller, SI.com, "Tips to Help You Ace Any Fantasy Football Draft," 4 July 2018 Violent zealots, such as the shooter who killed six Muslims in a Quebec City mosque to protest Mr Trudeau’s welcoming of refugees, are even rarer. The Economist, "Anti-elitist politicians in Canada are courting immigrants," 19 Apr. 2018 Her proud ignorance and insistence that bigotry is just a result of being plainspoken paved the way for a slough of zealots in future Republican presidential primaries, all the way to Donald Trump's campaign seven years later. Luke Darby, GQ, "The Roy Moores of the World Aren't Going Away," 10 Jan. 2018

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

1537, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for zealot

Late Latin zelotes, from Greek zēlōtēs, from zēlos

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Learn More about zealot

Dictionary Entries near zealot

zeal

Zealander

zealless

zealot

zealotic

zealotism

zealotry

Statistics for zealot

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for zealot

The first known use of zealot was in 1537

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More Definitions for zealot

zealot

noun

English Language Learners Definition of zealot

: a person who has very strong feelings about something (such as religion or politics) and who wants other people to have those feelings : a zealous person

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Comments on zealot

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