Green with Envy - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you feel like you wish you had what others have? Does the desire to covet other people's property or results with their life leave you feeling desperate to achieve the same? If so, you could be feeling "green with envy."

Being green with envy is not a desirable trait, but using this idiom can sometimes have a comical or lighthearted meaning.

This post unpacks the origin, meaning, and use cases for this idiom in conversation.

Green with Envy Idiom Meaning

To be "Green with envy" means that you're extremely jealous of another persons possessions, achievements, or outcomes. Typically, people will use the expression with a lighthearted tone, but there are times when people may use it to describe an adverse feeling they have for someone else.

Bing "green with envy" could have a serious or playful tone and emphasis, depending on how you phrase it in conversation. For instance, you could use it in a lighthearted manner to describe your reaction to a person getting a new car you like. Or you could use it to say that you are jealous of someone else's boyfriend.

Green with Envy Example Usage

"Wow Angela, you got the new BMW 3-Series; I'm green with envy right now, it's such a beautiful car.?

"Well done, Simon, you deserve the gold at the games; I'm green with envy that I couldn't be there to compete."

"Mike got the general manager position, I'm green with envy, but he deserves it."

"Tracey said she's going to the concert with Steve tonight; I'm green with envy; he's so cute."

"Chad bought Shiba Inu in May before the pump, he spent $1,000, and now he's a millionaire, I'm green with envy."

Green with Envy Idiom Origin

Back in the time of Ancient Greece, scholars would associate a green complexion in a person with an illness, overproduction of bile in the stomach, or jealousy. As a result, the expression "green with envy" refers to a person feeling so jealous that it makes them feel ill.

One of the first use cases of the idiom is in William Shakespeare's "Othello." In the play, Shakespeare pens the following.

"Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on …"

However, language experts suggest that Shakespeare was not the originator of the phrase. The French will sometimes use the expression, "vert de jalousie," but there is no indication that this phrase appeared in the French language before Shakespeare's use of the term in his play.

Some sources state "green with envy," instead of "jealousy," predates Shakespeare, and there are some suggestions that the original form of the phrase was "yellow with envy." However, the term never took off, and green is the preferred version in modern culture.

Phrases Similar to Green with Envy

  • I wish I were you.
  • I want it so bad.
  • Nice to be you.
  • I wish you well.

Phrases Opposite to Green with Envy

  • Not worth talking about.
  • It's not for me.
  • Nothing special.
  • No big deal.
  • Who cares.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Green with envy.

Ways People May Say Green with Envy Incorrectly

When you use "green with envy," you're not using it with any malicious intent. When you're using the phrase, you're not experiencing jealousy or envy; you're using it to tell someone you're proud of their achievements.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Green with Envy

You can use "green with envy" in social and professional settings, although envy is not an admirable characteristic in many people's eyes. However, using the phrase to someone you care about could show them that you value their achievements.

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