[ en-vee ]
/ ˈɛn vi /
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See synonyms for: envy / envied / envying on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural en·vies.
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), en·vied, en·vy·ing.
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.
Obsolete. to be affected with envy.


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Idioms about envy

    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.

words often confused with 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.

historical usage of 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.”


en·vy·ing·ly, adverbun·en·vied, adjectiveun·en·vy·ing, adjectiveun·en·vy·ing·ly, adverb


envy , jealousy (see confusables note at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does envy mean?

Envy is a mostly negative feeling of desire for something that someone else has and you do not.

Envy is not a good feeling—it can be described as a mix of admiration and discontent. But it’s not necessarily malicious. Envy is very similar in meaning to jealousy. However, jealousy usually implies a deeper resentment, perhaps because you feel that you deserve the thing more than the other person, or that it is unfair that they have it.

Envy is also a verb meaning to have feelings of envy toward someone. It is always followed by the person or thing that’s envied, as in I must admit that I envy her talent. 

As a noun, it can also be used to refer to the object of envy, as in She was the envy of the entire office after getting the promotion. 

Someone who envies another person can be described as envious, as in I was envious of him and his popularity. Someone who’s very envious is said to be green with envy. Things that produce envy in others can be described as enviable, as in It’s an enviable position, with a lot of perks. 

Example: Other people’s perfectly curated social media feeds often cause us to feel envy, but we need to keep in mind that they don’t show the whole story of what someone’s life is like—only the highlights.

Where does envy come from?

The first records of the word envy come from the 1200s. It comes from the Latin invidia, a derivative of the Latin verb invidēre, meaning “to envy” or, more poetically, “to eye maliciously.”

Being full of envy often involves eyeing up other people’s qualities or possessions, especially when they are better or more plentiful than the ones you have. Envy is one of the so-called seven deadly sins and has long been considered one of the vices that can lead people to do bad things. Still, most people are thought to experience envy at one time or another. Envy can lead to bitterness, but it doesn’t have to. You can be envious of your friend’s success and still be happy for them. When you stop being happy for them and start to resent them for it, that’s jealousy.

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What are some other forms related to envy?

  • envious (adjective)
  • enviousness (noun)
  • enviable (adjective)
  • envyingly (adverb)
  • unenvied (adjective)
  • unenvying (adjective)
  • unenvyingly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for envy?

What are some words that share a root or word element with envy

What are some words that often get used in discussing envy?

What are some words envy may be commonly confused with?

How is envy used in real life?

Most people feel envy occasionally, but they usually only admit it when it’s not so serious.



Try using envy!

Is envy used correctly in the following sentence?

All the other interns envied me because I was the only one who got my own desk.

How to use envy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for envy

/ (ˈɛnvɪ) /

noun plural -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 or -vied
to be envious of (a person or thing)

Derived forms of envy

envier, nounenvyingly, adverb

Word Origin for envy

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

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.