[ jel-uh-see ]
/ ˈdʒɛl ə si /
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noun, plural jeal·ous·ies for 4.
jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.
mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.
vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
a jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood.
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Origin of jealousy

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English gelusie, gelosie, from Old French gelosie, jalousie, equivalent to gelos “jealous” + -ie noun suffix; see origin at jealous, -y3

synonym study for jealousy

1. See envy.

words often confused with jealousy

See envy.


envy, jealousy (see confusables note at envy)

Words nearby jealousy

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


What does jealousy mean?

Jealousy is a feeling or state of resentment, bitterness, or hostility toward someone because they have something that you don’t.

Jealousy usually occurs as a result of someone owning something you want but can’t have or having achieved some kind of success that you want to achieve but have not been able to.

This sense of jealousy is very similar in meaning to envy, which refers to a mostly negative feeling of desire for something that someone else has and you do not—like a mix of admiration and discontent. However, while envy is not necessarily malicious, 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 and you don’t.

Jealousy is also used in the context of romantic relationships to refer to a feeling of hostility, uneasiness, or distress relating to the fear that one’s romantic partner will be unfaithful. This often involves opposition to others giving one’s partner positive attention. Such jealousy is considered very unhealthy in relationships.

Someone who is feeling or is prone to jealousy can be described as jealous. Jealous can also be used to describe such a person’s thoughts or actions.

Example: If your friends feel jealousy over your success, they may not be your friends.

Where does jealousy come from?

The first records of the word jealousy come from the 1300s. It ultimately derives from the Greek zēlos, meaning “zeal” (enthusiastic devotion). The words zeal and zealous are based on the same root.

Jealousy usually involves coveting (greedily desiring) what someone else has, such as material possessions, success, fame—even a romantic partner. In the context of romantic relationships, though, jealousy involves feeling the need to intensely guard access to one’s partner in order to prevent perceived threats to the relationship.

In his play Othello, Shakespeare famously calls jealousy a green-eyed monster, which is a way of saying that jealousy is an unhealthy emotion that can eat away at you.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to jealousy?

  • jealousies (plural)
  • jealous (adjective)

What are some synonyms for jealousy?

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


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

What are some words jealousy may be commonly confused with?

How is jealousy used in real life?

Jealousy commonly involves resentment relating to possessions, success, and romantic partners.


Try using jealousy!

True or False? 

Jealousy is usually considered a negative and unhealthy feeling.

How to use jealousy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for jealousy

/ (ˈdʒɛləsɪ) /

noun plural -ousies
the state or quality of being jealous
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