adjective zeal·ous \ ˈze-ləs \
|Updated on: 4 Jul 2018

Definition of zealous

: marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal : filled with or characterized by zeal
  • zealous missionaries





Examples of zealous in a Sentence

  1. I was zealous in my demands on my sisters for promptness in rehearsals. I was passionate, intolerant of small talk, hungry for knowledge, grabby, bossy, precocious. —Lynn MargulisCurious Minds(2004) 2005
  2. Sir Thomas was zealous in the pursuit of recusants, not poachers, and was otherwise an amiable man. —S. SchoenbaumShakespeare's Lives1991
  3. Zealous in his ministerial labours, blameless in his life and habits, he yet did not appear to enjoy that mental serenity, that inward content, which should be the reward of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist. —Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre1847
  4. He had no cause for self-reproach on the score of neglect, or want of thought, for he had been devoted to her service; and yet a hundred little occasions rose up before him, on which he fancied he might have been more zealous, and more earnest, and wished he had been. —Charles DickensOliver Twist1838
  5. The detective was zealous in her pursuit of the kidnappers.

Recent Examples of zealous from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zealous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

zealous vs. jealous

Zealous and jealous share not just a rhyme, but an etymology. Both words ultimately come from the Latin zelus “jealousy,” and in the past their meanings were somewhat closer to each other than they are today. In the 16th and 17th centuries, zealous occasionally was used in biblical writing to refer to a quality of apprehensiveness or jealousy of another. By the 18th century, however, it had completely diverged in meaning from jealous, signifying “warmly engaged or ardent on behalf of someone or something.” Today, zealous often carries a connotation of excessive feeling: it typically means “fiercely partisan” or “uncompromisingly enthusiastic.”

First Known Use of zealous


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ZEALOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of zealous for English Language Learners

  • : feeling or showing strong and energetic support for a person, cause, etc. : filled with zeal

ZEALOUS Defined for Kids


adjective zeal·ous \ ˈze-ləs \

Definition of zealous for Students

1 : filled with or showing a strong and energetic desire to get something done or see something succeed The police were zealous in their pursuit of the criminals.
2 : marked by passionate support for a person, cause, or ideal
  • a zealous fan



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to grant as a privilege or special favor

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