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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.]
    • 1667, John Milton, “(please specify the book number)”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 263–264:
      No bliss enjoyed by us excites his envy more.
    • 1804, Alexander Pope, The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, page 71:
      Envy, to which the ignoble mind's a slave,
      Is emulation in the learned or brave.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, page 9:
      distilling therefrom an acid envy that robbed her napoleon of all its savour.
    • 1983, Stanley Rosen, Plato's Sophist: The Drama of Original and Image, page 66:
      Theodorus assures Socrates that no envy will prevent the Stranger from responding
  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 (band), “Black Metal Sucks”, in 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 quotation)
    • 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.
  6. A red-skinned variety of eating apple.

Derived terms[edit]



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.]
    • 2018 September 20, Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee, Soyoung Kim, Haejin Choi, Pyongyang Press Corps., “Fulfilling a dream, South Korea's Moon visits sacred North Korean mountain with Kim”, in Lincoln Feast, editor, Reuters[1], archived from the original on 13 November 2018, World News‎[2]:
      Moon and Kim took a cable car together to Heaven Lake, a caldera at the top of the mountain, and walked around the area with their wives and officials from both sides.
      Pictures showed Moon and Kim smiling and posing with their wives, and Moon filling a bottle with water from the lake.
      “The Chinese envy us because they can’t go down to the lake from their side but we can,” Kim said.
      “We should write another chapter of history between the North and the South by reflecting our new history on this Heaven Lake.”
  2. (transitive) To resentfully or discontentedly desire (something someone else has that one lacks).
  3. (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, 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:
      Who envy at the prosperity of the wicked?
  4. (obsolete, transitive) To give (something) to (someone) grudgingly or reluctantly; to begrudge. [16th–18th c.]
  5. (obsolete) To show malice or ill will; to rail.
  6. (obsolete) To do harm to; to injure; to disparage.
  7. (obsolete) To hate.
  8. (obsolete) To emulate.



Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of envie