Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If Joe envied something, would it be proper to call that something "Joe's Envy"? Considering the usage in a team name but I am not sure if it makes sense.

share|improve this question
    
Yes. Envy can be used as a noun that represents the object of one's envy. –  Zibbobz Aug 23 '13 at 19:16
    
Yeah, you could probably fill in the blank ("Joe's _______ ) with any of the seven deadly sins (viz., wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony)! [Let's see, Joe's lust? Check. Joe's sloth? Check. Joe's gluttony? Check. Joe's pride? Check. Joe's wrath? Check. Joe's greed? Yup. All seven are covered quite nicely!] –  rhetorician Aug 23 '13 at 19:33
    
Provided you were referring to the sins. Referring to external objects as being foci for them is not that easy. Would you refer to Joe's girlfriend as Joe's lust? And his bank account as Joe's greed? Envy just doesn't work, except in fixed phrases, like the envy of <insert group name>, and even then it's said of a person, not the thing that causes it -- You'll be the envy of everyone in the audience -- i.e, they'll envy you, not something else. –  John Lawler Aug 23 '13 at 22:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

No. Envy is an emotion. To envy is to experience that emotion in relation to something. The object of envy is not envy.

However, from a literary perspective, you could still use "Joe's Envy" as a story or book title.

Just not as the object of that envy.

share|improve this answer
    
Formally, yes. But informally it could be used, particularly for a team name or as part of a conversation. "Her beauty is my envy". –  Zibbobz Aug 23 '13 at 20:14
    
If Joe envied his brother's baseball team, calling the baseball team "Joe's Envy" would be like naming his car "Joe's Drive" because Joe drives it. Or calling his breakfast "Joe's Eat" because that is what he ate. –  Cyberherbalist Aug 23 '13 at 20:20
    
But you could call a car your ride, and no one would bat an eye. It doesn't work in every case, but there are certain cases where it does. Though I'll concede it might not be proper grammar. –  Zibbobz Aug 23 '13 at 20:26
    
You know, you can do what you want, it's not up to me. But a car is a ride, and an accepted neologism and colloguialism at that, but the object of Joe's enviousness is not his envy, no matter what you say. –  Cyberherbalist Aug 23 '13 at 20:58
2  
@Zibbobz: I think you've hit upon a major problem encountered when using dictionary definitions. The fact that one sense is defined: envy noun an object of envious feeling: Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates. does not mean that the two are interchangeable in every (or even most) constructions. The definition certainly holds for constructions X was the envy of Y, which are common, but does not guarantee that constructions of the form X was Y's envy are considered acceptable. –  Edwin Ashworth Aug 23 '13 at 22:13

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.