jeal·​ou·​sy ˈje-lə-sē How to pronounce jealousy (audio)
plural jealousies
: a jealous disposition, attitude, or feeling
a marriage destroyed by jealousy
petty jealousies
: zealous vigilance
cherish their official political freedom with fierce jealousyPaul Blanshard

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Jealousy vs. Envy

Depending on who you ask, jealousy and envy are either exact synonyms, totally different words, or near-synonyms with some degree of semantic overlap and some differences. It is difficult to make the case, based on the evidence of usage that we have, for either of the first two possibilities. Both jealousy and envy are often used to indicate that a person is covetous of something that someone else has, but jealousy carries the particular sense of “zealous vigilance” and tends to be applied more exclusively to feelings of protectiveness regarding one’s own advantages or attachments. In the domain of romance, it is more commonly found than envy. If you were to say “your salt-shaker collection fills me with jealousy,” most people would take it to mean much the same thing as “your salt-shaker collection fills me with envy.” But if someone made a flirtatious comment to your partner, you would likely say that it caused you jealousy, not envy.

Example Sentences

petty jealousies among political rivals a marriage ruined by infidelity and jealousy He was driven crazy with jealousy. He was unable to control his jealousies.
Recent Examples on the Web Barbara was obviously someone who aroused a lot of jealousy and backbiting, and that's just the nature of the game. Christiane Amanpour, Peoplemag, 3 Jan. 2023 The couple spilled a little, too, about royal family jealousy and Prince William betraying Harry to brief against him and Meghan. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 15 Dec. 2022 After harboring feelings of jealousy and anger toward Jordan Alexander’s Julien Calloway in the first season, Monet declares war on the Queen Bee at the end of episode one. Christy Piña, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Dec. 2022 But soon, Britain’s tabloids were reporting jealousy between Meghan and William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, over Meghan stealing the limelight. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2023 Talk of banning the super popular app is widespread as national security concerns mix with nationalistic jealousy over the amazingly successful social media craze. Kevin O'marah, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2022 And that hurt is turning into anger, judgment and jealousy. Annie Lane, cleveland, 27 Dec. 2022 And that hurt is turning into anger, judgment and jealousy. Annie Lane, oregonlive, 27 Dec. 2022 After all, Joseph must have been filled with feelings of deep regret both for having stirred his brothers’ jealousy through his dreams and for having failed to contact his father during the years of separation. Rabbi Avi Weiss, Sun Sentinel, 26 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


see jealous

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of jealousy was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near jealousy

Cite this Entry

“Jealousy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


jeal·​ou·​sy ˈjel-ə-sē How to pronounce jealousy (audio)
plural jealousies
: a jealous disposition, attitude, or feeling

More from Merriam-Webster on jealousy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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