enthusiastic vs zealous


Senior Member
Which words are the best substitute for 'eager to go to', enthusiastic or zealous, in the sentence below:-

1). The children were very eager to go to the picnic.
1.1). The children were very enthusiastic about the picnic.
1.2). The children were very zealous about the picnic.

Are these two words using interchangeably?

From the Cambridge dictionary, zealous = enthusiastic and eager.
zealous Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

Thank you.
  • RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    The word zeal(ous) has a long history of referring to extreme adherence to an ideology, religion, cause, etc., and often carries a sense of outright fervor or fanaticism In my experience, it can be used with negative connotations, suggesting that someone is too enthusiastic. "Religious zealot" is usually a derogatory term, in my experience. Now, properly speaking, the breadth of definitions allows for a more simple usage to refer to enthusiasm, but generally it implies a real devotion to something.
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