Envy not Jealousy

Often, i find language police annoying.  Some definitions of words shift with time.  The word ambivalent has drifted from its original meaning to be torn by opposing feelings about something to being indifferent.  When people use the word, i listen to determine which of these meanings they are using.  Mostly, i don’t tell people they are using it wrong.

everyones a critic comic

Strangely, 400 years ago the word “nice” meant “silly”.  So now, even though nobody uses it that way, when ever i hear the word “nice” i check to see if i think they might really mean that the thing is silly.

There is an important exception to this “no language police” self-rule.  It is distinguishing between envy and jealousy.  Wikipedia puts it well.

In its original meaning, jealousy is distinct from envy, though the two terms have popularly become synonymous in the English language, with jealousy now also taking on the definition originally used for envy alone.

Jealousy is quite complex.  Jealousy typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.
Envy is simple.  You want something someone else has.
or in more words

or in more words

I half think this confusion is culturally intentional.  Envy is understandable people want things other people have.  Jealousy is emotionally less justifiable.  There are all manner of presumptions tied up in jealousy.  This lover is mine.  They should not be flirting with someone other than me.  Am i not enough?  Is my relationship in danger?  If you confuse the generally justifiable desire with the often inappropriately possessive emotion, you can perhaps hide your insecurities behind the cover of understandable wanting.
jealousy versus envy
i am not ambivalent about the distinction between jealousy and envy.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

One response to “Envy not Jealousy”

  1. milo says :

    often the distinction that is lost between two similar terms is that of emotion or action. an emotional or ‘gut reaction’ is programmed into you by experience and training. you are not fully responsible for your emotions as others have participated in the programing and reprograming takes a lot of time and effort. what you do with those emotions is fully your responsibility. a familiar example of this is the distinction between prejudice and racism.

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