English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

One of the meanings of 'jealous' as mentioned on dictionary.com is:

  1. solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something: 'The American people are jealous of their freedom.'

Now, if a man looked and smiled at my wife I would become very jealous but if I described this and said: 'I'm jealous of my wife.' it would not reflect the situation or my feeling.

It would suggest that my wife has something that I want but don't have. Also, it may imply that my wife did something to make me jealous - which in the above situation never happened because it was the man that looked and smiled.

In Arabic there is a specific word and preposition to reflect these types of situations as opposed to the use of jealousy to mean wanting something someone else has, which in Arabic has yet another different word.

The above example from dictionary.com about Americans being jealous of their freedom does not leave any room for misunderstanding or multiple meanings because it is not possible to be jealous of an inanimate object (albeit an abstract one like 'freedom') but it is ambiguous when it comes to people like my example above, hence the possible misunderstanding and lack of accuracy in expression.

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by J.R., Matt E. Эллен, Robusto, FumbleFingers, kiamlaluno Apr 24 '12 at 14:08

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Ugh. You answer your own question: One of the meanings on dictionary.com. Look at meaning #4: inclined to or troubled by suspicions or fears of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims: e.g., a jealous husband. – J.R. Apr 24 '12 at 9:02
Instead of saying, "I'm jealous of my wife," say, "His look and smile made me feel jealous." That eliminates the ambiguity. – J.R. Apr 24 '12 at 9:09
It is so difficult to express it, so why be jealous at all? – Bravo Apr 24 '12 at 9:24
possible duplicate of What preposition should follow "jealousy"? - the two meanings of jealous are covered there. – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '12 at 13:53

The word jealous has multiple meanings. To quote the Collins dictionary,

(often post-positive and foll by of) resentful (of) or vindictive (towards), esp through envy [eg: a child jealous of his brother]

(often postpositive and foll by of) possessive and watchful in the maintenance or protection (of) [eg: jealous of one's reputation]

suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival [eg: a jealous lover]

It is the first meaning we are most familiar with, but when you talk of being jealous of your wife, you intend meanings 2 or 3.

So it is perfectly fine to use jealous of in your context.

share|improve this answer

possessive is generally the word used in this context. As in, "I am possessive of/ about ..."

share|improve this answer

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