[ en-vee ]
See synonyms for: envyenviedenvying on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural en·vies.
  1. a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

  2. an object of such feeling: Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates.

  1. Obsolete. ill will.

verb (used with object),en·vied, en·vy·ing.
  1. 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),en·vied, en·vy·ing.
  1. Obsolete. to be affected with envy.

Idioms about envy

  1. green with envy, full of envy; covetous: When my friends saw the enormous rock on my engagement ring, they were all green with envy.

Origin of envy

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English noun envie, from Old French, from Latin invidia, equivalent to invid(us) “envious” (derivative of invidēre “to envy”) + -ia abstract noun suffix; verb derivative of the noun; see invidious,-y3

synonym study For envy

4. 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.

confusables note For envy

1. 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.

word story For envy

English envy comes from Middle English envie, invie, anvie, which has several meanings: one of the seven deadly sins (its directly opposite virtue is charity); ill will, hatred, enmity, hostility; and (more modern and middle-class) the annoyance and ill will toward others that is prompted by their superior advantages. This unsavory feeling was introduced into English by the French via Old French envie, which means “hostility, hatred, jealousy of another’s advantages,” the same as in Middle English. The French may be envious that Latin invidia not only has all the senses of Old French and Middle English envie, but also an extended, personified sense ( Invidia was the Roman goddess of envy).
Latin invidia is a derivative of the verb invidēre “to look askance at, regard with ill will, be jealous of, cast the evil eye on.” Invidēre is a compound of the preposition and prefix in, in- “in, into, at” and the simple verb vidēre “to see.”

Other words for envy

Other words from envy

  • en·vy·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·en·vied, adjective
  • un·en·vy·ing, adjective
  • un·en·vy·ing·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with envy

  • envy , jealousy (see confusables note at the current entry)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use envy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for envy


/ (ˈɛnvɪ) /

nounplural -vies
  1. a feeling of grudging or somewhat admiring discontent aroused by the possessions, achievements, or qualities of another

  2. the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another; covetousness

  1. an object of envy

verb-vies, -vying or -vied
  1. to be envious of (a person or thing)

Origin of envy

C13: via Old French from Latin invidia, from invidēre to eye maliciously, from in- ² + vidēre to see

Derived forms of envy

  • envier, noun
  • envyingly, adverb

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with envy


see green with envy.

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