What Is the Meaning of Jealousy?


Jealousy is an emotion that can manifest itself in a number of interpersonal relationships---romantic or not. It originates in a feeling that someone else has an advantage that you don't or that a person dear to you favors someone else over you. Both actions and people themselves can be described as jealous. It is possible to say both "He is a jealous person" and "He flew into a jealous rage."


  • According to Dictionary.com, jealous is derived from the Old French word "gelos," which in turn derives from the vulgar Latin "zēlōsus," and from the late Latin "zēl(us)," a word referring to zeal.

Non-romantic jealousy

  • Jealousy can be seen in non-romantic relationships when one person envies what another has. One can, for instance, be jealous of a neighbor because of his wealth.


  • Jealousy in romantic relationships is sparked when one feels threatened that one's partner might not be faithful or that someone might be trying to take one's partner away. Some people view a small amount of jealousy as healthy or even endearing, while too much is unattractive and possibly a dangerous sign of possessiveness.


  • God is sometimes referred to as being jealous, meaning that he is not willing to accept the allegiance of his followers to other gods.

Controlling Jealousy

  • According to Helen Fisher, Ph.D., of Rutgers University, it is important to avoid jealous behaviors, such as snooping, in relationships. She suggests that if jealousy becomes an obsession, it may be necessary to seek advice from a mental health professional.


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