Jealous vs. envious



I don't quite understand the difference between jealous and envious. Can you be jealous of people and things or people only?

Marina Tulupova
[email protected]


Feeling jealous and feeling envious both mean feeling discontented and resentful because someone else has, or might be about to have, what you want. In fact, the American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin, 1996) lists them as synonyms of each other in one meaning.

Being jealous also includes a feeling of anger, and it often includes a fear that you might lose what you already have, or that you might be supplanted by another person.

Being envious connotes that you want, that you yearn for, something that someone else has.

Jealousy seems more acute; envy seems more long-term.

You can be jealous of things as well as of people. This phrase is an example in the American Heritage Dictionary:

jealous of her friend's success…


A comment from Howard, a reader:

Being jealous seems to refer to a romantic situation, in which one fears the loss of a partner; envious, however, does not seem to apply to that situation. Envious applies to a situation in which one longs for something or someone that another possesses.