Envy vs. Jealousy: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on November 23, 2023
Envy is wanting what someone else has, while jealousy is fearing losing what you have to someone else.
Envy is often a two-person situation, where one desires the attributes or possessions of another. Jealousy typically involves three people, where the individual feels threatened by a third party to something they value, especially in relationships.
The emotion of envy can be silent and internal, manifesting as a longing for what others have. On the other hand, jealousy is often more vocal and external, driven by the fear of losing someone or something to another.
Envy can sometimes motivate self-improvement or a desire to achieve more. In contrast, jealousy often breeds insecurity and can lead to controlling or suspicious behavior in relationships.
Envy involves wanting what someone else possesses, such as their success, beauty, or possessions, without necessarily wishing them harm. In contrast, jealousy centers around the fear of losing something one already has, like a relationship, to a perceived rival.
Envy doesn't necessarily impact relationships directly, as it often doesn't involve a loved one. Jealousy, however, directly affects relationships, as it stems from a fear of being replaced or losing someone's attention or affection.
Number of People
Involves at least three people.
Desire for others' possessions/traits.
Fear of losing something one has.
Indirect or minimal.
Direct and significant.
Often silent and internal.
Vocal, external, can be controlling.
Can lead to self-improvement.
Often causes insecurity and suspicion.
Envy and Jealousy Definitions
A feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to someone's advantages or possessions.
She felt envy when she saw her friend's new car.
Hostility toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.
His jealousy was evident when he spoke bitterly about his brother's new car.
Resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.
Her success in the music industry sparked envy among her peers.
A resentful suspicion or rivalry in love, especially regarding a spouse or lover.
Their marriage was troubled by his constant jealousy over her friendships.
The feeling of wanting to be in someone else's position or have their achievements.
He looked with envy at the world travelers in his social media feed.
A state or feeling of being envious of someone's achievements or advantages.
His jealousy of her career success strained their relationship.
A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another. See Usage Note at jealous.
Feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.
She couldn't hide her jealousy when her friend won the award.
The object of such feeling
Their new pool made them the envy of their neighbors.
Vigilant in guarding something one possesses or desires, especially in reference to a romantic or sexual relationship.
Her jealousy often caused arguments with her partner about his friendships.
A jealous attitude or disposition. See Usage Note at jealous.
To feel envy toward (another person).
To regard (something) with envy.
A state of being jealous; a jealous attitude.
Resentful desire of something possessed by another or others (but not limited to material possessions).
(archaic) A close concern for someone or something, solicitude, vigilance.
An object of envious notice or feeling.
The quality of being jealous; earnest concern or solicitude; painful apprehension of rivalship in cases directly affecting one's happiness; painful suspicion of the faithfulness of husband, wife, or lover.
I was jealous for jealousy.
Jealousy is the . . . apprehension of superiority.
Whoever had qualities to alarm our jealousy, had excellence to deserve our fondness.
(obsolete) Hatred, enmity, ill-feeling.
A feeling of jealous envy (especially of a rival)
(obsolete) Emulation; rivalry.
Cherish their official political freedom with fierce jealousy
(obsolete) Public odium; ill repute.
A red-skinned variety of eating apple.
(transitive) To feel displeasure or hatred towards (someone) for their good fortune or possessions.
(transitive) To resentfully or discontentedly desire (something someone else has that one lacks).
To have envious feelings (at).
To give (something) to (someone) grudgingly or reluctantly; to begrudge.
(obsolete) To show malice or ill will; to rail.
(obsolete) To do harm to; to injure; to disparage.
(obsolete) To hate.
(obsolete) To emulate.
Malice; ill will; spite.
If he evade us there,Enforce him with his envy to the people.
Chagrin, mortification, discontent, or uneasiness at the sight of another's excellence or good fortune, accompanied with some degree of hatred and a desire to possess equal advantages; malicious grudging; - usually followed by of; as, they did this in envy of Cæsar.
Envy is a repining at the prosperity or good of another, or anger and displeasure at any good of another which we want, or any advantage another hath above us.
No blissEnjoyed by us excites his envy more.
Envy, to which the ignoble mind's a slave,Is emulation in the learned or brave.
Such as cleanliness and decencyPrompt to a virtuous envy.
Public odium; ill repute.
To lay the envy of the war upon Cicero.
An object of envious notice or feeling.
This constitution in former days used to be the envy of the world.
To feel envy at or towards; to be envious of; to have a feeling of uneasiness or mortification in regard to (any one), arising from the sight of another's excellence or good fortune and a longing to possess it.
A woman does not envy a man for his fighting courage, nor a man a woman for her beauty.
Whoever envies another confesses his superiority.
To feel envy on account of; to have a feeling of grief or repining, with a longing to possess (some excellence or good fortune of another, or an equal good fortune, etc.); to look with grudging upon; to begrudge.
I have seen thee fight,When I have envied thy behavior.
Jeffrey . . . had actually envied his friends their cool mountain breezes.
To long after; to desire strongly; to covet.
Or climb his knee the envied kiss to share.
To do harm to; to injure; to disparage.
If I make a lieTo gain your love and envy my best mistress,Put me against a wall.
To be filled with envious feelings; to regard anything with grudging and longing eyes; - used especially with at.
Who would envy at the prosperity of the wicked?
To show malice or ill will; to rail.
A feeling of grudging admiration and desire to have something possessed by another
Spite and resentment at seeing the success of another (personified as one of the deadly sins)
Feel envious towards; admire enviously
Be envious of; set one's heart on
The desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else.
He envied his colleague's natural ability to speak confidently.
Discontented or resentful longing for another's advantages.
Her promotion stirred a sense of envy in her coworker.
Repeatedly Asked Queries
What is jealousy?
Jealousy is the fear of losing something or someone to a rival.
What is envy?
Envy is a longing for others' achievements, qualities, or possessions.
How do envy and jealousy affect relationships?
Envy generally affects relationships indirectly, while jealousy directly impacts them, often negatively.
Does jealousy have any positive aspects?
Rarely; it's usually seen as harmful, particularly in relationships.
Can envy be positive?
Envy can sometimes motivate self-improvement, though it's often negative.
Is it normal to feel envy or jealousy?
Feeling them occasionally is normal, but frequent or intense feelings can be problematic.
Is jealousy only relevant in romantic relationships?
No, it can occur in friendships and even professional relationships.
Are there cultural differences in how envy and jealousy are perceived?
Yes, cultural attitudes towards these emotions can vary significantly.
Can envy be hidden?
Envy is often a private emotion and can be concealed.
Are envy and jealousy solely human emotions?
While primarily human, similar behaviors are observed in some animals.
Are envy and jealousy interrelated?
They can be, as jealousy sometimes stems from envy.
Does age affect feelings of envy and jealousy?
Age can influence how these emotions are experienced and expressed.
Can envy turn into jealousy?
Yes, if envy involves a loved one, it can evolve into jealousy.
How can one manage envy?
By focusing on self-improvement and gratitude for one's own life.
Do children experience envy and jealousy?
Yes, children can feel both, often in simpler forms.
Can envy be inspired by social media?
Absolutely, social media can often amplify feelings of envy.
Can envy and jealousy influence workplace dynamics?
Definitely, these emotions can significantly impact professional relationships and environments.
How can one deal with jealousy?
Through communication, trust-building, and addressing insecurities.
Can therapy help with envy and jealousy?
Yes, therapy can be beneficial in understanding and managing these emotions.
Is jealousy always obvious?
Not always, as some people may hide their jealousy.
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Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.