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  1. fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.
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Origin of zeal

1350–1400; Middle English zele < Late Latin zēlus < Greek zêlos
Related formszeal·less, adjectiveun·der·zeal, noun

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for zeal


  1. fervent or enthusiastic devotion, often extreme or fanatical in nature, as to a religious movement, political cause, ideal, or aspiration
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Word Origin for zeal

C14: from Late Latin zēlus, from Greek zēlos
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

Word Origin and History for zeal


late 14c., from Late Latin zelus "zeal, emulation" (source of Old French zel, Italian zelo, Spanish celo), a Church word, from Greek zelos "zeal, ardor, jealousy," which is of uncertain origin.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper