Envy (envious) and jealousy (jealous)

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Edwin

Senior Member
USA / Native Language: English
modgirl said:
The words jealous and envy used to be quite different. Now, they're essentially synonyms.
In some situations jealous and envious may carry the same meaning, but not always. For example: A jealous husband is not the same as an envious husband.

Some dictionaries show as many as 5 different definitions for jealous. Only one of these coincides with envious. For example: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=jealous
 
  • Ralf

    Senior Member
    German
    It's interesting. But I never figured "jealous" and "envious" to be synonymous. I can't even think of a situation I would change one for the other. The husband in the given example might be envious since his neighbour's new wife is so lovely and much younger. Does "jealous" really has the same implication in this case?
     

    modgirl

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Ralf said:
    The husband in the given example might be envious since his neighbour's new wife is so lovely and much younger. Does "jealous" really has the same implication in this case?
    No. An easy way to think of it is that one is jealous of what he has and envious of what he doesn't have. I'll explain.

    If you're jealous, you're very careful in guarding what you have or you are resentfully suspicious of a rival.

    E.g. Let's say you have a very beautiful wife. Every time you go out, men just drool all over her. You love her and don't want anyone else to flirt with her, so it could be said that you are a jealous husband. Suppose a male friend of hers just wanted to take her to dinner. She might decline, stating, "I'm sorry, but Ralf is a bit jealous, so I really can't go out alone without him." You aren't envious of anyone, but you are jealous and want to protect what you have.

    Although jealousy is often used with regards to romances or possessions, it can also be used in this sense, "I am jealous of my constitutional rights. I want to keep what I have and don't want anyone else to take them away from me!

    If you're envious, you are unhappy or resentful because of what someone else has. Let's say you are a very hard worker, but you can never seem to make enough money to really do what you want in life. But your neighbor was born into a rich family. He doesn't work much, takes lots of vacations, and seems to have an endless supply of money to do whatever he wants. You might be envious because of what he has -- you're the hard worker. But he seems rather lazy and is receiving what you deserve!

    To reiterate, you're jealous of what you have. You're envious of what you don't have!

    However, since so many people use the word jealous when the word that really should be used is envious, one of the "new" (I say sarcastically) definitions of jealousy is envy. Sigh.....
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    modgirl said:
    If you're jealous, you're very careful in guarding what you have or you are resentfully suspicious of a rival.

    ...

    "I am jealous of my constitutional rights." I want to keep what I have and don't want anyone else to take them away from me!
    To me, this means "I don't want my rights taken away from me and and I don't want anyone else to have them." In other words, the speaker sounds very rude.
     

    modgirl

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Nick said:
    To me, this means "I don't want my rights taken away from me and and I don't want anyone else to have them." In other words, the speaker sounds very rude.
    In academe, this usage is common.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Nick said:
    To me, this means "I don't want my rights taken away from me and and I don't want anyone else to have them." In other words, the speaker sounds very rude.
    Adhering to the strict definition of jealous, I don't think it has to mean "I don't want anyone else to have them." I think it just means "I don't want them taken away from me." After all, if you were so intent on maintaining your rights, why would you not want anyone else to have them? Seems kind of contradictory to me! ;)
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    elroy said:
    Adhering to the strict definition of jealous, I don't think it has to mean "I don't want anyone else to have them." I think it just means "I don't want them taken away from me." After all, if you were so intent on maintaining your rights, why would you not want anyone else to have them? Seems kind of contradictory to me! ;)
    To be unique, to be special, to be admired, to make others envoius (we have something they do not have), to be a world power...
     

    Lili L

    New Member
    Chinese
    No. An easy way to think of it is that one is jealous of what he has and envious of what he doesn't have. I'll explain.

    If you're jealous, you're very careful in guarding what you have or you are resentfully suspicious of a rival.

    E.g. Let's say you have a very beautiful wife. Every time you go out, men just drool all over her. You love her and don't want anyone else to flirt with her, so it could be said that you are a jealous husband. Suppose a male friend of hers just wanted to take her to dinner. She might decline, stating, "I'm sorry, but Ralf is a bit jealous, so I really can't go out alone without him." You aren't envious of anyone, but you are jealous and want to protect what you have.

    Although jealousy is often used with regards to romances or possessions, it can also be used in this sense, "I am jealous of my constitutional rights. I want to keep what I have and don't want anyone else to take them away from me!

    If you're envious, you are unhappy or resentful because of what someone else has. Let's say you are a very hard worker, but you can never seem to make enough money to really do what you want in life. But your neighbor was born into a rich family. He doesn't work much, takes lots of vacations, and seems to have an endless supply of money to do whatever he wants. You might be envious because of what he has -- you're the hard worker. But he seems rather lazy and is receiving what you deserve!

    To reiterate, you're jealous of what you have. You're envious of what you don't have!

    However, since so many people use the word jealous when the word that really should be used is envious, one of the "new" (I say sarcastically) definitions of jealousy is envy. Sigh.....
    An extraordinarily good example to tell the difference between these two words. Incredible!:thumbsup:
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An extraordinarily good example to tell the difference between these two words. Incredible!:thumbsup:
    The problem is that this is only true of one, quite limited, meaning of the word jealous. There's also a common use of the word jealous (meaning 1 in the WR dictionary: Envious of someone else's possessions, achievements, or advantages) which applies to one's feelings about what other people have.

    I think it's very misleading to suggest that one can't be jealous about what someone else has and one doesn't have.
     

    Jasquil

    Senior Member
    vietnamese
    In our language, we have two equivalent words which mean exactly "jealous" and "envious" , but we use "jealous" when we mean "envious" and and we use "envious" when we want it sound a little more colorful.

    But if it's very misleading to suggest that one can't be jealous about what someone else has and one doesn't have, the rule in my language can be applied to English ?

    But according to Modgirl and Keith you native speakers never use "jealous" to express the feeling of envy ?

    He was always envious of the neighbor's fortune.
    He was always jealous of the neighbor's fortune. (never right and sounds non-native ?)
     

    Jasquil

    Senior Member
    vietnamese
    I got it now. Thanks, Keith. It's just that I can't think of any example using "jealous" except the old one "He's jealous of his wife". It's like he has reason to be jealous. His wife is pretty and she's got legs so she can go out with someone else then the husband got jealous with the man. But he can't be jealous of his right/power or his fortune, can he? It sounds odd to me because who is he jealous with? Are you willing to tell me, please?
     
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