Printable Version
Pronunciation: ze-lês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Fervent, ardent, filled with intense enthusiasm.

Notes: Today's word is the adjective from the noun zeal "ardor, fervor". The adverb is zealously, and the other noun, based on today's Good Word, is zealousness. A person who is filled with zeal focused on some cause is known as a zealot. Since a zealot usually has an excess of zeal, the word is usually used disparagingly. His or her excess of zeal may be referred to as zealotry.

In Play: This word is right at home describing extreme politics: "Jerry Mander was swept into office by the very zealous minority of the voters in his district who turned out to vote." It fits across a wide spectrum of human objectives: "While Ty Kuhn wasn't born a plutocrat, he is a zealous convert to the cause."

Word History: If today's word resembles jealous, it is no coincidence: they come from the same source, Latin zelus "ardor, rivalry, emulation". Latin borrowed the word from Greek zelos "emulation, zeal, jealousy". English, the avaricious word-borrower, again plucked this word twice over the course of its development: (1) directly from Latin in the case of zealous and (2) after French had a go at it, converting it to jaloux, jalouse in the case of jealous. The semantic overlap may be seen in sentences like "They jealously guarded their new found freedoms", where jealously may actually be replaced by zealously. (We could not be more zealous in showing our gratitude to William Hupy for supplying us with this excellent Good Word suggestion.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!