zeal·​ous | \ ˈze-ləs How to pronounce zealous (audio) \

Definition of zealous

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

Other Words from zealous

zealously adverb
zealousness noun

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.”

Examples of zealous in a Sentence

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 Margulis, Curious Minds, (2004) 2005 Sir Thomas was zealous in the pursuit of recusants, not poachers, and was otherwise an amiable man. — S. Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives, 1991 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 Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847 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 Dickens, Oliver Twist, 1838 The detective was zealous in her pursuit of the kidnappers.
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Recent Examples on the Web In the series version, when a ruthless oil tycoon attempts to plunder a West Texas ranching community, two local brothers dodge a zealous Texas Ranger and fight to keep what’s theirs, one bank robbery at a time, come hell or high water. Joe Otterson, Variety, 10 Jan. 2022 Many of those congregations rent space in industrial buildings on the outskirts of cities and towns – often filling them with zealous worshippers even as many large, centuries-old Catholic churches empty out. Fox News, 5 Jan. 2022 Such moments conjure up a remarkable portrait, with the elderly appearing just as petty, reckless, lusty, zealous, difficult, vulnerable, and, perhaps most of all, scared to grow up as anyone else. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 Roughly seventy years ago the left's forebears made precisely the same move when confronted with an overly zealous, demagogic critic of communism. Damon Linker, The Week, 25 June 2021 The zealous online community around the device treats it not only as a tool but as a toy or collectible—typewriter mania meets millennial nostalgia for nineties homeroom homeliness. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 13 Dec. 2021 And those cubes had suddenly been swept up in the global cryptocurrency mania—with zealous techies scooping them up as symbols of their weighty passions for all things blockchain. Declan Harty, Fortune, 2 Dec. 2021 Like the NFTs, his new album is all about channeling newfound, zealous confidence. Samantha Hissong, Rolling Stone, 13 Sep. 2021 Conversely, overly zealous restrictions on access have raised claims of First Amendment violations. Kevin Mccoy, USA TODAY, 13 May 2021

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.

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First Known Use of zealous

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for zealous

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The first known use of zealous was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near zealous



zealous witness

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zealous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zealous. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for zealous



English Language Learners Definition of zealous

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


zeal·​ous | \ ˈze-ləs How to pronounce zealous (audio) \

Kids Definition of zealous

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

Other Words from zealous

zealously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on zealous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zealous

Nglish: Translation of zealous for Spanish Speakers


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