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  1. a person who shows zeal.
  2. an excessively zealous person; fanatic.
  3. (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 formsun·der·zeal·ot, noun

Synonyms for zealot

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

Examples from the Web for zealot

Contemporary Examples of zealot

  • Kirsten Powers talks to the author of 'Zealot' about the double standard.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Jesus Needs Reza Aslan, Author of 'Zealot'

    Kirsten Powers

    August 11, 2013

  • For me,” said Pacino, “it was always the opportunity just to be able to explore the whole idea of a zealot.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Pacino's Best Performance in Years

    Gina Piccalo

    April 20, 2010

  • Clad in black, Al Pacino tells Gina Piccalo he loved playing Jack Kevorkian because he was a "zealot."

    The Daily Beast logo
    Pacino's Best Performance in Years

    Gina Piccalo

    April 20, 2010

  • I was sure the owner committed the cardinal sin of improperly storing his wine, and I smote him with all the fervor of a zealot.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Myth About Old Wine

    Keith Wallace

    January 26, 2010

  • The more confident right-wing Republicans become, the more likely they will nominate a Palin-like zealot in 2012.

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    Why the Democrats Should Lose

    Peter Beinart

    October 30, 2009

Historical Examples of zealot

British Dictionary definitions for zealot


  1. an immoderate, fanatical, or extremely zealous adherent to a cause, esp a religious one

Word Origin for zealot

C16: from Late Latin zēlōtēs, from Greek, from zēloun to be zealous, from zēlos zeal


  1. 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

Word Origin and History for zealot

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