What's a word meaning

"I want something very similar to what you have, but I don't feel resentment for your possession of it, nor do I wish for you to lose it"?

  • Greed doesn't seem targeted

  • Envy means wanting to take what someone else has, and feeling satisfaction upon seeing them lose it

  • Jealousy is a defensive fear of loss

  • Lust seems targeted at the person themselves

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    What I understand is that you are just talking about the concept of similar wants. Your wanting does not arise from observing me at all. You may have been wanting something for a long time and found out just now that I have one. You might say, “Wow! You have one of those? How do you like it? I’ve been wanting to get one for the last six months.”. This is the idea you are trying to capture? – Jim Feb 19 '16 at 5:15
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    I downticked because you haven't provided sufficient information about how you will use the word for answerers to know whether you want a noun or a verb. See the help for single-word-requests – JEL Feb 19 '16 at 5:28
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    I think envy fits the bill perfectly. It's not malevolent, and doesn't mean that you want to take something from another person (unless perhaps the thing is unique). It just means that you like what they have, and want to have some of it too. – jamesqf Feb 19 '16 at 5:52
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    Longing seems like a pretty neutral term for this feeling. – Sven Yargs Feb 19 '16 at 6:30
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    Please can you provide a sentence with your word left blank. – Dan Feb 19 '16 at 10:19

How about desire?

Desire noun a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

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  • Noun and verb, targeted, emotion, non-malevolent. Awesome this hits it. – DeepDeadpool Feb 19 '16 at 14:57
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    @GheyPhistor - Really? Here's a quote from question of what you wanted the word to mean; I've bolded the parts it meets: "I want something very similar to what you have, but I don't feel resentment for your possession of it, nor do I wish for you to lose it". What I'm trying to say is that this word misses what appears to be the key to your question, the "similar to what you have" part. – AndyT Feb 19 '16 at 16:45

The noun covetousness has the idea of wanting what someone else has (not just something similar to it), without malevolent intent.

Covet verb Yearn to possess (something, especially something belonging to another) - ODO

The words yearning, desire, etc convey the idea of wanting something, but don't necessarily carry the idea that someone else has one.

A noun that comes close to both senses of wanting something and referencing something external is aspiration:

Aspire verb Direct one’s hopes or ambitions towards achieving something - ODO

Unfortunately, it tends to be applicable only to greater degrees of intangible qualities. For example:

i aspire to reach his level of coolness - crybaby

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    Coveting certainly does have negative connotations. "Thou shalt not covet..." etc. However, "Aspire" is definitely a good answer. – Simba Feb 19 '16 at 14:24
  • Thanks @Simba. Regarding negative connotations - yes, I agree. I'm only claiming that it doesn't intrinsically have the connotation of malevolent intent. That is, although it has negative connotations in the "Thou shalt not covet" sense, wanting someone else's belongings doesn't automatically translate to wishing harm on that someone. – Lawrence Feb 19 '16 at 14:32

emulate -- From Merriam Webster

to try to be like (someone or something you admire)

to strive to equal or excel

In the case you describe, you would want to emulate the qualities that made the person successful and thus able to have the life that you admire and wish for yourself. If you succeed, you take nothing away from the person you emulate.

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  • Getting closer I suppose, but I feel there should be a noun for this type of emotion. – DeepDeadpool Feb 19 '16 at 4:54

Keeping up with the Joneses

"Keeping up with the Joneses" is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one's neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to "keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.


There is nothing malevolent here. To some it's not even negative. Though it does go against some less materialistic philosophies.

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  • I saw this on wikipedia a while ago totally by coincidence a while ago. I support this idea. – Grizzly Feb 19 '16 at 4:10
  • I'm not certain this gets it completely. Envy or jealousy may be applied to anything, materialistic or no. Say for example I see my friend happy with his girlfriend, and I am single. I know it is neither their faults for my lack of love, so I don't wish misery on either of them. Seeing them with each other did not spark my wanting, so it's not about "keeping up". – DeepDeadpool Feb 19 '16 at 4:50

Consider, yen

yen (yĕn)


A strong desire or inclination; a yearning or craving.

intr.v. yenned, yen·ning, yens

To have a strong desire or inclination; yearn.

[Cantonese jyun6, hope, wish, from Middle Chinese ŋyan` (also the source of Mandarin yuàn).] American Heritage® Dictionary

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I suggest “look up to.”


I look up to Bob because he has achieved the kinds of successes in his life that I want to achieve in my life.

It suggests that you want your own version of what Bob has, not stealing anything from him. And it suggests you admire Bob, not resent him. It suggests that his example is helpful to you, not harmful. You are not trying to be Bob or replace Bob, you are following in his footsteps.

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What about the word "APPETENCY"? In Webster, defined as: "a fixed or strong desire". –––––– e.g.: "Television commercials create appetency for products that the consumer may not have known even existed"

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  • Upvoted because I've never heard of this word. It's a noun, can be an emotion, is general, but it seems to have a negative connotation. Based on some example uses I've found, it seems if one is appetent, then they are easily distracted, lazy, or weak willed; willing to let others decide on what they themselves should set their hearts. Desire is probably better. – DeepDeadpool Feb 19 '16 at 14:56




  1. To have a high opinion of; esteem or respect: I admired her ability as a violinist.

In the example provided by the source, one may infer that the speaker desires such an ability, but there is no implication that the speaker feels any resentment or malice toward their object - indeed, the connotation is a positive emotion.

Someone else suggested aspire, and while that is an acceptable choice, I think admire is preferable because it can be used interchangeably with envy to change the meaning of a sentence without having to change its structure.


I envied her ability as a violinist

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