zeal·​ot | \ ˈze-lət How to pronounce zealot (audio) \

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



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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 The show follows the story of June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), a woman who defies Gilead, a totalitarian religious zealot society formed in the U.S. after a civil war. Amanda Ostuni, EW.com, "The Handmaid's Tale season 4 premiere recap: Everyone feels like they're cleaning up June's mess," 28 Apr. 2021 The zealot is long gone, and in his place is just Floki. Erik Kain, Forbes, "‘Vikings’ Series Finale Review: The Last Three Sons Of Ragnar Lothbrok," 21 Mar. 2021 But with the arrival of the Jim Crow era, Stevens was reduced to the caricature of a vengeful zealot. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘Thaddeus Stevens’ Review: Back in the American Pantheon," 5 Mar. 2021 Holiday was a particular obsession of Harry Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund), an anti-narcotics zealot in the F.B.I. New York Times, "‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ Review: Singing for Her Life," 25 Feb. 2021 But before Garland could land in Oklahoma, authorities arrested Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. soldier who had become an anti-government zealot angry over the bloody 1993 storming of the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas. Del Quentin Wilber Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Oklahoma City bombing provides insights into how Garland would run Justice Department," 21 Feb. 2021 These are blatant ideologues, yes, but even the most ardent zealot can be interested in what is in students’ best interest. Grant Addison, Washington Examiner, "Frisco's folly," 11 Feb. 2021 The country’s most high-profile electric car manufacturer, Tesla, is run by an anti-union zealot who has already violated the National Labor Relations Act. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Right to Work on a Hot Planet," 25 Jan. 2021 The strongest resistance came from Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, who dismissed Becerra on Fox News on Tuesday as a left-wing zealot. Tal Kopan, SFChronicle.com, "California’s Xavier Becerra faces skepticism from Senate Republicans for Cabinet job," 8 Dec. 2020

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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Statistics for zealot

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Zealot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zealot. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of zealot

often disapproving : 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

More from Merriam-Webster on zealot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zealot

Nglish: Translation of zealot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zealot

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