jealousy vs envy

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Renatrix

Senior Member
polski
According to dictionaries, 'jealousy/jealous' and 'envy/envious' are not synonyms. But then I see the following examples in a collocation dictionary:
She was rather jealous of me. http://oxforddictionary.so8848.com/search?word=jealous
He had always felt envious of his brother. http://oxforddictionary.so8848.com/search?word=envious
Looking at the sentences above, I can't say what the difference between these two expressions is. For example, when you think that someone's hair is a lot more beautiful than yours, would you be jealous or envious of their hair?
Could it be that these are different terms in psychology, but can often be used interchangeably in colloquial English?
 
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  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    You are envious of a person who has what you don't have. I think that her hair is a lot more beautiful than mine, I'm so envious!
    You are jealous of a thing/person you have that you are afraid of losing. Peter was obsessively jealous when other men talked to his wife.

    These are often confused in everyday speech.
     

    Renatrix

    Senior Member
    polski
    Thanks, Keith. Your explanation makes a clear distinction between the two terms.
    Still, I'm not sure what this sentence means: "He had always felt envious of his brother." His brother had something valuable and that's why he had always felt envious of his brother (he wanted to have what he didn't have and what his brother had)? Or he was an only child and wished he had a brother?
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    "He had always felt envious of his brother."
    His brother had something valuable and that's why he had always felt envious of his brother (he wanted to have what he didn't have and what his brother had)?
    That's right.

    Or he was an only child and wished he had a brother?
    That isn't possible. Your sentence says "his brother"; he clearly has a brother.
     

    Renatrix

    Senior Member
    polski
    And if there were, say, Chris and Paul. Chris was an only child, Paul had a brother. Could Chris be envious of his (Paul's) brother (in theory)?
     

    Siavash2015

    Senior Member
    Iranian-Persian
    Dear teachers,
    the difference between these two has always been a question for me.

    In the TV show (how I met your mother)

    Barney, Ted and Robin are in a bar chitchatting. Barney sees a guy named Carlos making out with a girl.

    Barney: unbelievable, that's just a recipe for disaster, they work together.

    Ted: you jealous?

    Barney: oh please, what does Carlos have that I don't?

    Robin: a date tonight.


    Can we say jealous and envious are interchangeable and synonyms here?

    Thanks a lot in advance.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think it's very common for "jealous" to be used in that way. Our dictionary gives examples of both meanings of "jealous".
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think many people would use "jealous" rather than "envious". I doubt whether many people would make a distinction between "jealous" and "envious" in that context, and "envious" is a rather more formal word, in my opinion.

    I'd say they are often interchangeable nowadays, especially in speech.

    Bob is jealous of Fred's success.
    Bob envies Fred's success.
     

    Renatrix

    Senior Member
    polski
    I think many people would use "jealous" rather than "envious". I doubt whether many people would make a distinction between "jealous" and "envious" in that context, and "envious" is a rather more formal word, in my opinion.

    I'd say they are often interchangeable nowadays, especially in speech.

    Bob is jealous of Fred's success.
    Bob envies Fred's success.
    These sentences look perfectly fine to me, but having in mind the definition of 'jealous' given above by Keith (You are jealous of a thing/person you have that you are afraid of losing), I don't understand what Bob is jealous of.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    My argument is that we (some of us anyway :)) are not particularly careful about this distinction. See also the WR dictionary examples.

    Quote from WR Dictionary: feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages (often fol. by of ): He was jealous of his rich brother.

    Bob is jealous (envious) of Fred and his success.
     

    Renatrix

    Senior Member
    polski
    Thanks, Velisarius. So when a preschooler thinks that his friend's toy cars are cooler than his own ones and would like to have such toy cars himself, we could say: He's jealous of Tom's toy cars.
    He's envious of Tom's toy cars.
    He envies Tom his toy cars.
    Am I right?
    And should we stick to this distinction in a story for kids? I'm translating one from Polish, where we have one word for 'jealous' and 'envious,' and I'm not sure if I should introduce these two terms or try to use just one ('jealous' and 'jealousy,' which seem more common).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'd say "He's jealous of Tom with his toy cars" or "He envies Tom his toy cars." If it's the kids themselves speaking, I'm pretty sure one kid would say to another: "John's jealous of Tom because Tom's got some cars and he hasn't got any". On the other hand, in the narrative of the story there's no reason not to use the more accurate: "He envies Tom his toy cars".

    When you say that one kid is jealous of what another kid has, I think you may just introduce a nuance of this being a difficult child with jealousy problems.
     
    <Threads have been merged at this point by moderator (Florentia52)>

    Hello everyone,

    The Wordreference dictionary defines jealousy as: (1): jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself; (2) mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims. Definition (1) is synonymous with "envy". So I think context will tell the listener if I mean (1) or (2). My question: Considering that I want to use in a certain situation the definition (1), what is the difference between "out of envy" and "out of jealousy" as they are synonymous (according to the dictionary)?

    An example that I created:

    A. John bad-mouthed me to my boss out of envy. He wanted to harm me. He knows I'm a better employee than him. Vs B. John bad-mouthed me to my boss out of jealousy. He wanted to harm me. He knows I'm a better employee than him.

    Thank you in advance!
     
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    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Definition (1) is synonymous with "envy".
    Not really. The WR dictionary defines envy as "a feeling of discontent caused by a desire for another's advantages or achievements; jealousy". I know the word "jealousy" is there too but they're still not exact synonyms.

    A. John bad-mouthed me to my boss out of envy. He wanted to harm me. He knows I'm a better employee than him. Vs B. John bad-mouthed me to my boss out of jealousy. He wanted to harm me. He knows I'm a better employee than him.
    I'd use "jealousy" here. You normally envy someone because they have something you don't.

    In this case, John's jealous of you because you're a better worker and possibly have a better reputation.

    However he could be envious of your success, because that's something you may have achieved to a greater degree than him.

    It's not a very clear-cut difference, and you may need to spend some time looking at how the words are used in different contexts to get a feel for them.
     
    Thank you very much.

    So you mean when I use the chunk "out of" (jealousy Vs envy), "out of jealousy" is the more natural option (meaning: a feeling of discontent caused by a desire for another's advantages or achievements; jealousy).

    Google agrees with you. There is very little about "out of envy" and a lot about "out of jealousy".

    Edit: I asked specifically about "out of" + ''jealousy/envy'' meaning (1) in my post.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    when I use the chunk "out of" (jealousy Vs envy), "out of jealousy" is the more natural option (meaning: a feeling of discontent caused by a desire for another's advantages or achievements; jealousy).
    The underlined words are from the definition of "envy".

    No, I wasn't referring specifically to the words "out of". I don't see anything wrong with "out of envy" in the right context. It's just that in the situation you described and with the words you used, "jealousy" seemed the right word. As you said,
    jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself;
    The "advantage" in your example is that you're a better worker.

    Another difference is that envy can sometimes be used without seeming a negative emotion. You can envy someone without feeling resentment. Jealousy is more likely to be accompanied by resentment.
     
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