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

Synonyms & Antonyms for zealot



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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 But even if Martin were some sort of political zealot, that zealotry would be in line with a Republican party that has, on every level, made ballot security and election integrity its highest priority. al, 15 Sep. 2022 Burke is a zealot on the issue and makes no apology for it. BostonGlobe.com, 30 Aug. 2022 Obviously a half-mad Greyjoy zealot with such a powerful magical item will have a major impact on Dany’s storyline and the ending of the books. Erik Kain, Forbes, 10 July 2022 Not the far-left ideologues and the political zealot's on Twitter… the regular Americans who love their families and community and country. Fox News Staff, Fox News, 4 July 2022 Indeed, rather than construing Lemoine’s position as aberrant (and a sinister product of engineers’ faith in computational theocracy), or just ignoring him (as one might a religious zealot), many observers have taken his claim seriously. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 14 June 2022 Another mass shooting, another zealot in the sort of tactical gear Riddell disperses to a deliberately limited clientele. Neal Rubin, Detroit Free Press, 19 May 2022 Creighton Horton, who prosecuted Ron in the 1996 retrial (after the first trial was thrown out due to a question of mental competency), does not believe that Ron was a religious zealot. The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 May 2022 The show’s primary antagonist, however, is Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a zealot associated with the god Ammit on a righteous (at least for him) mission that turns murderous. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zealot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zealot. Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on zealot

Nglish: Translation of zealot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zealot


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