What is the word to describe this? I was reading up about the differences between jealousy and envy and this doesn't seem to fit either, when you don't actually want what the other person has, nor do you have it, but you're just kind of bitter and angry because you don't think they deserve anything at all.

For example: Your crappy neighbor wins a new car. You have a much better car, or don't even need a car at all, but you're still mad about it since he doesn't deserve to win anything at all. Or, you break up with a real jerk, are more than happy to be rid of him and find a new wonderful partner, and then later see him out with a really attractive person. It's not like you want the guy back, or you want the person he's with, or that you're even wanting a relationship, but you just are angry that this jerk is getting anything at all.

A friend suggested "begrudge", but it still sounds like you actually want what the other person has. Is there a simple word to express resentment/biterness over another person's good fortune without investment in actually wanting what they obtained?

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    'Jealousy' and 'envy' are synonymous (ie are, on occasion, interchangeable). The 'centres of gravity' of the ranges of their senses may differ, but it would be wrong to see them as non-overlapping. Although the usage notes given by RHK Webster's argues for this disjointness, their first definition of 'envy' contradicts their argument. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 7:50
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    Whether or not he deserves a new car is immaterial. The OP is asking about the feeling associated with believing he does not deserve it and resenting that. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 13:06
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    'Pettiness' comes the closest in my opinion.
    – user88630
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 3:11
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    @EdwinAshworth No they're not! 'Jealous' is incorrectly used as though it is a synonym of 'envious', but it is not. One is jealous of something oneself has, but envious of another.
    – OJFord
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 12:14
  • @BallardHill That's a completely different tone and only works when talking about someone else. You wouldn't say "I feel petty for his new car"..
    – OJFord
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 12:16

9 Answers 9


I don’t think you will find a better word than begrudge for “regard as ill-deserved”.

I know I shouldn’t care, but I begrudge my ex his new partner a bit.

Merriam-Webster agrees that it needn’t have a covetous connotation:

be·grudge verb \bi-ˈgrəj, bē-\

: to think that someone does not deserve something

: to regard (something) as not being earned or deserved

Resent is another good choice.

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    Begrudge: spot on. It doesn't really bring the implication that you want what the person has. I'm not sure "resent" is a viable alternative, because it was part of the question: how can "resent" be the answer to "what is a word for resentment about someone's good fortune" :) Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 13:13
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    Additionally, Dictionary.com specifically offers "to envy or resent the pleasure or good fortune of (someone)". Sounds rather spot on.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 2:55
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    @GreenAsJade People can (accidentally, even) suggest the best answer to their question. Sometimes you just need another pair of eyes to say, "you said it best."
    – Tim S.
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:11

I believe the best word to describe what you are feeling is indignation. Begrudge is a good word if you don’t care about the similarities with envy and resentment. According to Dictionary.com:

indignation (n): strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base; righteous anger.

That is, indignation at the other person’s good fortune.

Incidentally, putting a few words together to make resentful indignation is part of the definition of another word: wrath. Again, according to Dictionary.com:

wrath (n): strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.

Wrath is a really interesting word, but it is a very deep emotion. As food for thought, is this person really the object of your wrath rather than your indignation? :)


Begrudge and resent are good suggestions in a different answer, but I would like to add that if you act on the feelings you mention, you might be said to act out of spite. Also, you behaviour could be construed as spiteful.


Hater: Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn't really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch. -Urban Dictionary

Pompous: Characterized by excessive self-esteem or exaggerated dignity; pretentious Pretentious: Making claim to distinction or importance, esp undeservedly -TheFreeDictionary

It must be nice... (sarcastically) A phrase said to share that feeling with others because there is no better word for jealousy. The context of the discussion fills in the blank, unspoken.

In the example, they are jealous that their "crappy" neighbor doesn't live a life as hard as they do to live on their block. Living frugal or having different ethics does not prescribe them to say that their neighbor is in anyway subhuman and undeserving, that would be pretentiously pompous; a 'hater'.

  • The rest is what got me to hater, I juxtaposed everthing.
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 23:50

sadist and the likes.
If X resents when the X sees others get what they deserve/don't deserve, then I'd like to address X as a sadist.

I am jealousy when you've got something I don't have.
I am a sadist if I feel bad when you've got something I do have.


indignant (Webster): feeling or showing anger because of something that is unfair or wrong : very angry

This seems appropriate as it seems what you are after is a way to express that your sense of justice has been violated.

  • Welcome to EL&U. Please take some time to review the help center for guidance on submitting good answers. You should, at the least, cite a source for this definition.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:14

"Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little." - Gore Vidal

I think the above quote embodies the feeling the original poster was trying to capture. To say you don't think somebody deserves it isn't quite capturing the malcontent behind the feeling. It is almost based in insecurity and self-loathing. I almost think the only word we have for it is 'hater.' Although I would like to see something a little more creative.


"glückschmerz" (German) - the opposite of 'schadenfreude'; the sorrow and discomfort felt at the good fortune of others.


What about Irony ? I know it's not what you're looking for, but if you think about it, your ideal reaction should only go as far as appearing to you as ironic that someone has got something good when you don't think they deserve it. But you never know all the facts, you don't even know that the new car is actually good for them. So I would go for "it's ironic that he has won a new car when he's actually a dreadful person that poisons my fish and plays loud music".

Technically this feeling you're looking to describe is not really an emotion as such, but an attitude developed as a reaction to an emotion of anger. We only have a few "pure" emotions, but lots of varying attitudes.

Hope this at least provides a bit of food for thought.

  • Irony is not even an emotion, it's a technique or state of affairs. It may or may not be ironic that the person has a new car when they don't deserve it, but the question is asking about the feeling associated with resenting them having it, ironic or not. If you know that it is not what the question is looking for, then don't give it as an answer ;) Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 13:05
  • It's correct that this doesn't directly answer the question, but I can see the point being made. There is likely to be irony in the situation that the OP describes and it's still a useful answer.
    – zooone9243
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 1:25

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