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Jealousy vs. Envy

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There are many words in English that have very similar definitions–so similar that it’s difficult to tell some of these words apart at times. Jealousy and envy are two such words. Oftentimes, people treat these words as synonyms, but do they have the same meanings? If you look at the words closely, there is a slight difference between them.

In this post, I want to go over the definitions of these two words, what makes them different, and how you can tell them apart from each other in the future.

Origin:

The word jealous originated from Middle English: from Old French gelosie, from gelos. The word envy originated from Middle English (also in the sense ‘hostility, enmity’): from Old French envie (noun), envier (verb), from Latin invidia, from invidere ‘regard maliciously, grudge’, from in- ‘into’ + videre ‘to see’.

Jealousy as noun:

The word jealousy is used as a noun in English language which means feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.

A sharp pang of jealousy rushed through her.

Envy as noun:

The noun envy means a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.

She felt a twinge of envy for the people on board.

Envy as verb:

The word envy is also used as a verb in English language where it means to desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable thing belonging to (someone else).

He envied people who did not have to work at the weekends.

Examples:

Woman must face her jealousy over beau’s female pal (The Columbus Dispatch)

Karen Danczuk says split from Simon was caused by jealousy of her SELFIES (The Mirror)

It has made private universities like the Ivy League, as well as many in the Northwest, the envy of the worldespecially in times when federal and state governments reduce their commitment to supporting college education for those who need it most. (The Seattle Times)

Alberta’s top earners — once the envy of Canada’s rich — brace for a new tax reality (The Financial Post)

And if off-balance equates to spending a certain period of time being passionately committed to an ethos where you test your limits of being a footballer in a team environment with absolutely no guarantee of success, then I envy and admire those players. (The Irish Independent)

Jealousy or envy:

If you want to keep your writing precise in its meaning, I would advise making the distinction between these two meanings. Making your writing more precise is never a bad thing. In fact, it almost always helps your writing by providing it with more clarity and enriching the meaning and depth of your work. Jealousy has to do with holding on to what you have because you are afraid that someone else is going to take it away, while envy has to do with wanting what someone else has. In other words, envy is when you want something someone else has, and jealousy is when you’re afraid someone is going to take what you have.

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"Jealousy vs. Envy." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 23 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/jealousy_vs._envy>.

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