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

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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 Spain banned Islam and Judaism in a series of decrees after the Reconquista of 1492, and zealous Christians regularly denounced conversos who refused to eat pork to the Inquisition. Julian Lucas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 25 Nov. 2019 Deeper in the West Bank, on the settlement frontier, settlers are often more zealous. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "West Bank settlers escalate attacks on Arab olive harvesters in annual violence," 12 Nov. 2019 DIRECTOR Federico Veiroj Uruguay's most in-demand actor-director, Daniel Hendler, stars as zealous moneymaker Humberto Brause, who throws himself into the family business of buying and selling currency. Tara Bitran, The Hollywood Reporter, "Oscars: A Guide to All 92 Foreign-Language Submissions," 7 Nov. 2019 The Catalan police, criticised by the prosecution for failing to prevent the referendum, are likely to be more zealous in upholding the law. The Economist, "Catalan nationalists protest as their leaders are jailed for sedition," 14 Oct. 2019 Safe to say the Blues would have been less zealous with their forecheck and heavy hits on the Bruins’ rear wall had Miller been on the case. BostonGlobe.com, "Slow walks back are not encouraged in today’s 31-team NHL. Contrary to the St. Louis Blues’ unprecedented turnaround last season, a stunning reversal from midseason chumps to springtime champs, poor starts in October are generally punished by quick and disappointing endings.," 28 Sep. 2019 But others are super zealous and ban anything that has anime art where girls are wearing school uniforms. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Is Valve still censoring adult games on Steam? [Updated]," 6 Sep. 2019 And what’s up with those zealous, self-flagellating fauns? Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Carnival Row showrunners break down that season finale, tease what's to come in season 2," 31 Aug. 2019 Since inauguration day, cracking down on immigration has been one of Mr Trump’s most zealous endeavours. S.m. | Des Moines, The Economist, "Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies face court challenges," 22 Aug. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for zealous

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Zealous.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zealously. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for zealous


How to pronounce zealous (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on zealous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zealous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zealous

Spanish Central: Translation of zealous

Nglish: Translation of zealous for Spanish Speakers

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