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[zel-uh t] /ˈzɛl ət/
a person who shows zeal.
an excessively zealous person; fanatic.
(initial capital letter) a member of a radical, warlike, ardently patriotic group of Jews in Judea, particularly prominent from a.d. 69 to 81, advocating the violent overthrow of Roman rule and vigorously resisting the efforts of the Romans and their supporters to heathenize the Jews.
Origin of zealot
1530-40; earlier zelote < Late Latin zēlōtēs < Greek zēlṓtēs, equivalent to zēlō- (variant stem of zēloûn to be zealous; see zeal) + -tēs agent suffix
Related forms
underzealot, noun
2. extremist, crank, bigot. See fanatic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for zealots
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The zealots were looking for a victory, which should set Israel on high over all his foes.

  • What little manufacturing was done was by zealots and inventors.

    Opportunities in Aviation Arthur Sweetser
  • In the flush of Romanticism the zealots neglected those studies which give firmness to the mind.

    Vie de Bohme Orlo Williams
  • He had told the zealots of the town of the new-comer's heretical mode of thinking.

  • It must be locked against the meddling of fools and zealots.

    The Defiant Agents Andre Alice Norton
British Dictionary definitions for zealots


an immoderate, fanatical, or extremely zealous adherent to a cause, esp a religious one
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin zēlōtēs, from Greek, from zēloun to be zealous, from zēloszeal


any of the members of an extreme Jewish sect or political party that resisted all aspects of Roman rule in Palestine in the 1st century ad
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 zealots



c.1300, "member of a militant 1st century Jewish sect which fiercely resisted the Romans in Palestine," from Late Latin Zelotes, from Greek zelotes "one who is a zealous follower," from zeloun "to be zealous," from zelos "zeal" (see zeal). Extended sense of "a fanatical enthusiast" first recorded 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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zealots in the Bible

a sect of Jews which originated with Judas the Gaulonite (Acts 5:37). They refused to pay tribute to the Romans, on the ground that this was a violation of the principle that God was the only king of Israel. They rebelled against the Romans, but were soon scattered, and became a lawless band of mere brigands. They were afterwards called Sicarii, from their use of the sica, i.e., the Roman dagger.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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