Rogue Words from A to Z: Jealous of Jewelry?

A to Z Letter JShould I be jealous of your fabulously expensive collection of antique jewelry? Or should I be envious?

When I look up envy in my dictionary, it says it is “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by another’s better fortune.” Okay, then, I must be envious.

But then I look up jealous and it says “envious or resentful of a person or a person’s advantages.” You know you’re in trouble when the word envious is used to define jealous. Should I be jealous instead, then?

What exactly is the difference here?

In practice, people use the word jealousy in a way that overlaps with envy. But there is a distinction between the two terms. After seeing what Grammar Girl had to say and investigating the psychological distinction between the two states, I decided that Common Errors in English Usage has the most useful definition:

You can be envious of what others have that you lack (like a rare and beautiful piece of jewelry).

Jealousy, on the other hand, involves wanting to hold on to what you do have. This is why this term comes up a lot in romantic relationships that are threatened by another person.


Huan_in_shape_of_a_coiled_serpentI am envious of of your fabulously expensive collection of antique jewelry. As your friend, I don’t understand why you won’t let me borrow that sinuously appealing snake amulet to impress my boyfriend. Just once? Pleeeease?

Fine. Clearly you are jealous of your jewelry collection and you don’t want any of it to get lost through carelessness. I guess I can understand that. What I can’t understand is your constant flaunting of your wealth and beauty in front of my boyfriend. I can’t help but be jealous, you know. It’s early days in our relationship. And when you’re around I feel like I’m second best.

Oh, so now you’ve decided to wear that sexy snake amulet when you know we are going out with my boyfriend? For the love of…I thought you were my friend! Hey, you don’t look so good. You look weird. You’re…changing? What the β€”

Okay, now she’s gone and turned in to a garter snake. Wow, I’m so glad I didn’t wear that amulet. I guess I don’t have to be envious of her good looks any more!

Bonus Word: Jewelry

How do you spell jewelry? The British spelling is jewellery, and the American spelling is jewelry. (As a Canadian, I end up dealing with both of them.) Which version do you prefer?


This post is dedicated to Jaso and Brenna Layne.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Unless otherwise noted, definitions are from the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

Stay tuned for Monday’s post, when I will kidnap the know-it-all letter K…


Β© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015

52 thoughts on “Rogue Words from A to Z: Jealous of Jewelry?

    1. I didn’t know all of these words this well before the challenge – my reader word requests prompted me to look some things up, and I came across some surprises. πŸ™‚ There’s a book I use called Garner’s Modern American Usage that has all sorts of interesting information in it about words and how they are used, as well as common challenges. I find I go to it a lot.


  1. I hadn’t really thought that there was such a distinction between jealousy and envy, but you are right (as always!)

    Now that I think about it, I’ve never heard of someone guarding something enviously, but guarding something jealously makes all the sense.

    (I’m enjoying these wonderful word-centric (but not necessarily wordy) articles!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I use jewelry but even if it was jewellery, I don’t want that snake amulet :). Funny the different spellings in the English language between America and Great Britain. I most commonly see the s vs z like realization or realization but there is also the er vs re like center or centre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t want that amulet either! πŸ™‚ Yes, it’s interesting how many differences there are. The one that always throws me off is L vs. double L, like in traveling vs. travelling. I prefer the two Ls, but spell check always yells at me because it’s American. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I prefer one ‘l’ on jewelry, only because I would get confused otherwise. Honestly, the way I pronounce it, it sounds like ‘w’ should be where the double consonant is. πŸ˜›

    My sister and I once had an actual screaming match over the meanings of envy and jealousy. Glad my definitions are corroborated here, haha. πŸ˜‰ (Though, I’ve actually done the research in the past for a school essay exactly on the topic. πŸ˜› )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s okay, because nothing ever seems to be spelled like it’s pronounced anyway. πŸ˜‰

      That must have been some school essay. School is the best for having us gather all sorts of arcane knowledge! Good to hear we’re on the same page. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to this! You make so much sense, though. I love your explanations–they really get me thinking about the words we use everyday.

    I spell it “jewelry.” I didn’t even notice there was another acceptable spelling. oO I should really pay more attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I’ve often used jealous when I meant envious. And, naturally, as a Brit I spell it jewellery. In a Scottish accent it’s often pronounced ju-lery so the other spelling wouldn’t make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I pronounce it close to ju-lery as well! I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone pronounce out the “jew-el” part when they say this word, which makes it even more confusing to remember how to spell it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think I have ever had to spell the word jewellery, but if I did I think I would revert to my British roots and spell it the proper way. I think envious is a much nicer word than jealous. Jealous sounds like a mean-spirited word to me, like Mean Girls would be jealous, but they would never stoop to being envious (because that might mean someone was better than them).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for bringing out the real grammatical difference between the two words. I enjoyed reading that example.
    Coming over to that spelling, while growing up I learnt it as jewellery cos Indian English is an extension of British one but later when Microsoft started ruling our lives, the auto correct made it jewelry πŸ™‚
    For us the similar trouble is with color, honor and many such words! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Parul! “When Microsoft started ruling our lives.” How true! I wonder if we’ll all be using American spelling someday, all thanks to Microsoft.

      And yes, colour and honour (and all those other “u” words) can be a challenge. I much prefer these words with the “u,” no matter what Microsoft says… πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how you made perfect sense of the two definitions here, Sue, as I knew you would, and they resonate beautifully with how I was taught to decide between the two as a young school girl (although it was simplified for a grade schooler).
    Jealousy always involved LOVE – or the intensely developed feelings between people who wanted that love. To this day, it’s how I’ve chosen between the two. Your story was purely delightful though, and I think it will stick with me just as much.
    And thank you for your memorable, heartfelt words on my post today, Sue. You have such a warm and embracing way of touching the very core of me. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think your thought about love is perfect for distinguishing between these two words, Shelley. And I’m glad my words helped you today. Sending you warm thoughts. πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks, Romi. That’s a great question. We count pieces of jewelry, so I can say “nine pieces of jewelry” to mean a group of nine necklaces, bracelets, rings, or other pieces of jewelry. But I can’t say “nine jewelries.” Maybe it’s because jewelry can include so many types of things with different levels of value. It’s like money, where we wouldn’t say “nine monies” but we would say “nine dollars.”

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh the jewellery one had me all in a tither back when I worked for a diamond jeweller. I kept having to look up how to spell it (or rely on spell check), so I wound up alternating between the UK and American spelling. I find it super tricky when American and English words have slightly different spellings.

    I had to look up garter snake – I wasn’t sure if you’d made that up. A very appropriate snake for the way that girl was behaving! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s neat that you worked for a diamond jeweller. I guess I should have added a link for garter snake. πŸ™‚ They are quite common in Canada β€” little tiny insignificant ones. So I thought it would be a good pick!


  10. Thank you for this helpful explanation, Ms. Sue. When the new puppy moved in, I found myself dealing with feelings of jealousy as I saw my People paying attention to him. And I was envious of his new toys. Did I do that correctly?
    My People spell it “jewelry” because they are American.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. No way, I didn’t expect for jewelry and jewellery to be both right πŸ˜‰ But this jealousy bit is bothering me. I have been using jealousy as a positive trait compared to envious. I used the word jealous when I too wanted something somebody else had. I thought envious meant that you didn’t want your friend to have that snake amulet. So you would be doing the ‘Muhaha’ dance at the end of your story because she didn’t have the snake amulet. Maybe I can get away with my confusion because of this overlap between jealous and envy. But what about the overlap with covet. Rogue J words indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, covet, now that’s a great word to say when you want something that someone else has! Bonus points for you, Jaso! πŸ™‚

      It makes sense to me that envy has a negative meaning for you compared to jealousy, since envy is pretty much always portrayed as a bad thing. People use these terms so interchangeably that the distinction has been lost over time. I say go with what feels right to you! πŸ™‚


  12. Well-done, Sue! Thanks for tackling this one–you managed it beautifully! I jealously stick to American spellings of words, whilst secretly envying you people who get to use all those lovely “u”s without sounding pretentious. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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