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[en-vee] /ˈɛn vi/
noun, plural envies.
a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.
an object of such feeling:
Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates.
Obsolete. ill will.
verb (used with object), envied, envying.
to regard (a person or thing) with envy: She envies you for your success. I envy your writing ability.
He envies her the position she has achieved in her profession.
verb (used without object), envied, envying.
Obsolete. to be affected with envy.
Origin of envy
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English envie < Old French < Latin invidia, equivalent to invid(us) envious (derivative of invidēre to envy; see invidious) + -ia -y3; (v.) Middle English envien < Old French envier < Medieval Latin invidiāre, derivative of Latin invidia
Related forms
envyingly, adverb
unenvied, adjective
unenvying, adjective
unenvyingly, adverb
Can be confused
envy, jealousy (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. enviousness. Envy and jealousy are very close in meaning. Envy denotes a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another: to feel envy when a friend inherits a fortune. Jealousy, on the other hand, denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one more rightfully deserves: to feel jealousy when a coworker receives a promotion. Jealousy also refers to anguish caused by fear of unfaithfulness. 4. resent. Envy, begrudge, covet refer to one's attitude toward the possessions or attainments of others. To envy is to feel resentful and unhappy because someone else possesses, or has achieved, what one wishes oneself to possess, or to have achieved: to envy the wealthy, a woman's beauty, an honest man's reputation. To begrudge is to be unwilling that another should have the possessions, honors, or credit that person deserves: to begrudge a man a reward for heroism. To covet is to long jealously to possess what someone else possesses: I covet your silverware. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for envies
Historical Examples
  • Once, in my youth that is passed, I too had my hates and my envies.

    Poems William D. Howells
  • The man who hears that his brother is happy at once envies him!

  • Animosities, and jealousies, and envies--those enemies of all kinds of peace--are repressed, if not controlled.

    Our Master Bramwell Booth
  • No man ever envies us the nimbleness by which we can elude logic and get at truth?

    The Joys of Being a Woman Winifred Kirkland
  • Nobody admires and envies the rich relation so much as the poor relation.

  • The second envies the caress which you give to the son of the first.

    The Makers of Modern Rome Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant
  • He envies other kings, who can hold counsel with their gods, or who can learn the will of the gods from soothsayers.

    The Forerunners Romain Rolland
  • He envies the eagles that he sees soaring and screaming over the sea.

    Gibraltar Henry M. Field
  • One envies them their warmth and snugness as one rides against the bitter penetrating winds.

    The Unveiling of Lhasa Edmund Candler
  • He envies you nothing which can in any way conduce to your benefit or pleasure.

British Dictionary definitions for envies


noun (pl) -vies
a feeling of grudging or somewhat admiring discontent aroused by the possessions, achievements, or qualities of another
the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another; covetousness
an object of envy
verb -vies, -vying, -vied
to be envious of (a person or thing)
Derived Forms
envier, noun
envyingly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin invidia, from invidēre to eye maliciously, from in-² + vidēre to see
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for envies



late 13c., from Old French envie "envy, jealousy, rivalry" (10c.), from Latin invidia "envy, jealousy," from invidus "envious," from invidere "envy," earlier "look at (with malice), cast an evil eye upon," from in- "upon" (see in- (2)) + videre "to see" (see vision).

Similar formations in Avestan nipashnaka "envious," also "look at;" Old Church Slavonic zavideti "to envy," from videti "to see;" Lithuanian pavydeti "to envy," related to veizdeti "to see, to look at."


late 14c., from Old French envier, from envie (see envy (n.)). Related: Envied; envying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with envies


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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