green-eyed monster


green-eyed monster (noun)
/ɡriːn aɪd ˈmɒn.stər/


  • referring to the feeling of jealousy or envy.

Example Sentences

  1. After seeing her friend’s new car, Maria felt the green-eyed monster creeping up inside her.
  2. The promotion at work unleashed the green-eyed monster among colleagues.
  3. When he saw his ex-girlfriend with another man, the green-eyed monster took over him.
  4. She tried to be grateful for her sister’s success, but the green-eyed monster was difficult to control.
  5. Social media can often bring out the green-eyed monster in people as they compare their lives to others.

Origin and History

The phrase “green-eyed monster” is a vivid and enduring idiom that has come to symbolize jealousy. Its origins are deeply rooted in literature, particularly in the works of William Shakespeare, who first used the term to personify the destructive nature of jealousy.

Shakespeare’s Influence

The earliest known use of the term “green-eyed” in relation to jealousy appears in Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice” (1596), where the phrase “green-eyed jealousy” is used. However, the more famous and full-expression “green-eyed monster” comes from his later work, “Othello” (1604). In this tragedy, the character Iago warns Othello:

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

Here, Shakespeare personifies jealousy as a monstrous entity that feeds on the very person who harbors it, emphasizing its self-destructive nature.

Symbolism of Green

The color green has long been associated with envy and jealousy. This association can be traced back to ancient beliefs, where green was linked to illness and unhealthiness. People who were sick were often described as having a greenish complexion, and green food was sometimes associated with spoilage and toxicity. Thus, by linking jealousy with the color green, Shakespeare tapped into a widely recognized symbolism that made the emotion appear even more vile and harmful.

The Evolution of the Phrase

While Shakespeare’s works are the primary source for the idiom, its exact formation was influenced by the common associations of green with both envy and illness, reinforcing the idea of jealousy as something unhealthy and monstrous. Over time, “green-eyed monster” has become a staple in the English language to describe the often irrational and harmful nature of jealousy. It vividly captures how jealousy can consume individuals, leading them to act in ways they normally would not, thus “feeding” on their better nature and sanity.

Modern Usage

Today, the phrase “green-eyed monster” is used universally to describe the feeling of jealousy. It remains a powerful idiom because it conjures up a clear image of an ugly, devouring creature that represents the ugliness and destructiveness of jealousy. The expression is often used in literature, everyday conversation, and psychological contexts to highlight how jealousy can turn otherwise rational individuals into irrational and destructive beings.

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