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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 + videre ("on, upon" + "to look, see"). Displaced native Middle English ande, onde (envy) (from Old English anda, onda (breath, emotion, envy, hatred, grudge, dislike)), Middle English nithe, nith (envy, hatred, malice) (from Old English nīþ (envy, hatred, malice, spite, jealousy)).



envy (countable and uncountable, plural envies)

  1. Resentful desire of something possessed by another or others (but not limited to material possessions). [from 13thc.]
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      No bliss enjoyed by us excites his envy more.
    • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
      Envy, to which the ignoble mind's a slave, / Is emulation in the learned or brave.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter I:
      Little disappointed, then, she turned attention to "Chat of the Social World," gossip which exercised potent fascination upon the girl's intelligence. She devoured with more avidity than she had her food those pretentiously phrased chronicles of the snobocracy [] distilling therefrom an acid envy that robbed her napoleon of all its savour.
    • 1983, Stanley Rosen, Plato’s Sophist, page 66:
      Theodorus assures Socrates that no envy will prevent the Stranger from responding
  2. An object of envious notice or feeling.
    • Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859)
      This constitution in former days used to be the envy of the world.
  3. (obsolete) Hatred, enmity, ill-feeling. [14th-18thc.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter 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
    • 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.
    • John Ford (1586-c.1639)
      Such as cleanliness and decency / Prompt to a virtuous envy.
  5. (obsolete) Public odium; ill repute.
    • Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
      to lay the envy of the war upon Cicero



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.]
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      , II.3.3:
      I do not envy at their wealth, titles, offices; [] let me live quiet and at ease.
    • Jeremy Taylor:
      Who would envy at the prosperity of the wicked?
  3. (obsolete, transitive) To give (something) to (someone) grudgingly or reluctantly; to begrudge. [16th-18th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.v:
      But that sweet Cordiall, which can restore / A loue-sick hart, she did to him enuy […].
  4. (obsolete) To show malice or ill will; to rail.
    • Shakespeare:
    He has [] envied against the people.
  5. (obsolete) To do harm to; to injure; to disparage.
    • J. Fletcher
      If I make a lie / To gain your love and envy my best mistress, / Put me against a wall.
  6. (obsolete) To hate.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Marlowe to this entry?)
  7. (obsolete) To emulate.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)

Related terms[edit]