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From Middle English envie, from Old French envie, from Latin invidia (envy), from invidere (to look at with malice), from in- (on, upon) + videre (to look, see).

Displaced native Old English æfest.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛnvi/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛnvi


envy (countable and uncountable, plural envies)

  1. Resentful desire of something possessed by another or others (but not limited to material possessions). [from 13th c.]
  2. An object of envious notice or feeling.
    • 1843, Thomas Macaulay, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, Carey & Hart, page 277:
      This constitution in former days used to be the envy of the world[.]
    • 2008, Lich King, "Black Metal Sucks", Toxic Zombie Onslaught.
      Blacke Foryst of Despayr, taking photos of the band
      Put 'em up on Myspace you're the envy of the land
  3. (obsolete) Hatred, enmity, ill-feeling. [14th–18th c.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “lij”, in Le Morte Darthur, book X:
      Syre said laūcelot vnto Arthur by this crye that ye haue made ye wyll put vs that ben aboute yow in grete Ieopardy
      for there be many Knyghtes that haue grete enuye to vs
      therfore whan we shal mete at the daye of Iustes there wille be hard skyfte amonge vs
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1:
      But let me tell the World,
      If he out-liue the enuie of this day,
      England did neuer owe so sweet a hope,
      So much misconstrued in his Wantonnesse.
  4. (obsolete) Emulation; rivalry.
    • c. 1631-1636, John Ford, The Fancies Chaste and Noble
      Such as cleanliness and decency
      Prompt to a virtuous envy.
  5. (obsolete) Public odium; ill repute.



envy (third-person singular simple present envies, present participle envying, simple past and past participle envied)

  1. (transitive) To feel displeasure or hatred towards (someone) for their good fortune or possessions. [from 14th c.]
  2. (obsolete, intransitive) To have envious feelings (at). [15th-18th c.]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition II, section 3, member 3:
      I do not envy at their wealth, titles, offices; [] let me live quiet and at ease.
    • 1651, Jer[emy] Taylor, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Francis Ashe [], OCLC 1203220866:
      Who envy at the prosperity of the wicked?
  3. (obsolete, transitive) To give (something) to (someone) grudgingly or reluctantly; to begrudge. [16th–18th c.]
  4. (obsolete) To show malice or ill will; to rail.
  5. (obsolete) To do harm to; to injure; to disparage.
  6. (obsolete) To hate.
  7. (obsolete) To emulate.

Related terms[edit]



Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of envie