Monday, April 29, 2013

Jelous* (for Jealous*)

Do you admire (or possibly even resent) people who know the difference between jealousy and envy? It's a real stickler for many of us. Even the thesaurus seems to be reaching a bit to come up with synonyms for these two somewhat jaded cognates. Under the word jealous it gives us: "anxious, apprehensive, attentive, begrudging, covetous, demanding, doubting, emulous, envious, envying, grabby, grasping, green-eyed, grudging, guarded, intolerant, invidious, jaundiced, mistrustful, monopolizing, possessive, possessory, protective, questioning, resentful, rival, skeptical, solicitous, suspicious, vigilant, watchful, [and] zealous." (Whew. That certainly covers a lot of ground. A bit like a gumshoe hired by a jealous spouse.) Under envious, we've got "appetent, aspiring, begrudging, coveting, covetous, craving, desiring, desirous, distrustful, fain, grasping, greedy, green with envy, green-eyed, grudging, hankering, invidious, jaundiced, longing for, malicious, spiteful, suspicious, umbrageous, watchful, wishful, [and] yearning." I thought emulous, fain, and umbrageous were especially nice touches. According to the always helpful Grammar Girl, whose grasp of the un-obvious often makes me envious: "Some sources say 'jealous' is supposed to be limited to resentful emotional rivalries (often romantic) with another person, whereas 'envious' can expand to cover desiring or coveting objects or accomplishments gained by another person." Another expert puts it a tad more plainly: "Although these are often treated as synonyms, there is a difference. You are envious of what others have that you lack. Jealousy, on the other hand, involves wanting to hold on to what you do have. You can be jealous of your boyfriend's attraction to other women, but you're envious of your boyfriend's CD collection." Perhaps a bit harder to explain is what looks like a sudden cultural meme of sorts regarding one of the classically disreputable "Seven Deadly Sins." (It calls to mind the old boast "Greed is good" from the 1980s, as well as the overall overuse of the word "pride" to describe one's status as a member of a disenfranchised minority group.) The other day, I came across three rather striking examples of this emerging trend: the new GM car, the EN-V; something called "Massage Envy" (a possible Mother's Day destination); and "Storenvy," described as a sort of online "store builder and marketplace in one." It looks as though envy may finally be getting the facelift it's always wanted. (Lust hasn't been quite the same since Jimmy Carter had it in his heart; gluttony is hanging on by its fat greasy fingertips; and I myself am patiently waiting for a movement for those of us who actually hate to move, otherwise known as "sloths.") To err is human, as they often say, but it would be a sin to ignore this typo of the day, which occurs five times in OhioLINK, and 31 times in WorldCat.

("Green with Envy," 15 September 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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