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


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



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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

This is especially dangerous in the aftermath of progressive zealot and Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson’s 2017 attempt to assassinate Republican congressmen at a practice for a charity baseball game. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: Menacing invective against Trump creates scary climate," 1 Aug. 2019 This is especially dangerous in the aftermath of progressive zealot and Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson’s 2017 attempt to assassinate Republican congressmen at a practice for a charity baseball game. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Dangerous Invective against Trump," 1 Aug. 2019 And those who weep for them or try to protect them are condemned roundly as religious zealots and akin to racists. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Gov. J.B. Pritzker cheered as he signs abortion bill, but what is the cost?," 13 June 2019 The dead woman’s caretaker, Nurse McMahon, a Catholic zealot whose many husbands have died mysteriously, is now wooing Hal’s father as her next husband/victim. F. Kathleen Foley, latimes.com, "New in L.A. theater: Orson Welles’ ‘Moby Dick’ and the Odyssey’s ‘Loot’," 7 June 2019 Keene plays Lyra, a girl caught in a battle between religious zealots and scientists in a fantastical but dangerous world. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "The 24 Most Anticipated TV Shows of Fall 2019," 9 Aug. 2019 The notoriously deliberate 25-year-old sent anti-slow play zealots into a frenzy when video surfaced of him pacing off and needing more than two minutes to execute a 70-yard shot. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "Watch: Bryson DeChambeau Takes Over Two Minutes to Hit 70-Yard Shot," 9 Aug. 2019 This much becomes obvious in this episode: Commander Lawrence isn’t a religious zealot. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "The Handmaid's Tale," 7 June 2019 Christmas bar zealots can start the adventing now — Miracle and Sippin’ Santa will open Nov. 25. Allyson Reedy, The Know, "This year, Colorado gets a whopping five Miracle Christmas pop-up bars," 10 July 2019

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

27 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for zealot

The first known use of zealot was in 1537

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on zealot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zealot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zealot

Spanish Central: Translation of zealot

Nglish: Translation of zealot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zealot

Comments on zealot

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formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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