Is there an English word that's similar to the meaning of envy, but in a positive way? In other words, if "envy" is hoping for the removal of someone else's blessing, what is the word for "wanting the same blessing for yourself but without wanting the blessing to be removed from the possessor"?

Envy = "I hate to see her luxurious house".

Word? = "I wish I were as generous as he is".

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    In some context, "inspiration" may fit.
    – Graffito
    Mar 5 '17 at 18:31
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    envy is not necessarily negative. It does not necessarily detract from the person envied. If you envy Joe because he has a new car that does not imply that you want a new car AND you want Joe to lose his new car.
    – Drew
    Mar 5 '17 at 19:52
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    Envy is frustration or resentment toward someone because they have possessions, talents, or position that you lack. The resentment often takes the form of wishing the other person did not have it, or a need to acquire the same thing for yourself, but either way it's an unpleasant, negative emotion. It is seen as a weakness or failing of the person experiencing it, not a problem with the person being envied. That's why it's one of the seven deadly sins. If used casually or humorously as a way to express admiration it could be considered flattery, but still not really positive.
    – barbecue
    Mar 6 '17 at 0:16
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    I think you may be confusing envy with jealousy. At least to me, envy is fairly positive: you like what someone has/is, and would like to have some too, without taking it away from the other person. You might even make the envied person into a role model. With jealousy, the primary desire seems more to take away what the other person has, even though you might not actually want it yourself - as with the fable of the dog in the manger.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 6 '17 at 7:40
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    First, Christianity's influence on the English language is incredibly huge, so ignoring things just because they came from Christianity is going to give you an extremely skewed view. Second, The concept of a list of undesirable behaviors is absolutely not unique to Christianity. The seven deadly sins are just a Christian expression of themes common throughout history in many cultures. The seven graces are in opposition to the seven sins. Buddhism has the eight-fold path, Islam has the Al-Kabirah, etc. Even Aristotle made lists of virtues and vices.
    – barbecue
    Mar 7 '17 at 20:00

You can aspire to be like them. Rather than a feeling of envy, you have a feeling of aspiration.



to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value (usually followed by to, after, or an infinitive):

to aspire after literary immortality; to aspire to be a doctor.


  • Indeed. See also the theory of "aspirational choice" used in marketing.
    – user221615
    Mar 6 '17 at 3:41
  • My first thought too.
    – Kevin
    Mar 6 '17 at 6:08

Long for, perhaps? (According to "thefreedictionary.com")

to desire or pine for someone or something.




  1. Feel a powerful desire for (something)

'if only she had shown her daughter the love she craved'

  • 1
    Sorry, but I don't think "crave" reflects a positive feeling at all; it's more of an involuntary or overriding desire - a craving for chocolate, or heroin, or attention. It implies desperation. In fact, I can't think of a single positive example.
    – SusanW
    Mar 6 '17 at 11:04

I think appreciation is the best fit.

Appreciation - noun - the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.


When someone else's desirable traits or things encourage you to try to achieve similar success yourself, you are motivated or inspired by them. This is not exclusively tied to another specific person, as a thing or place could serve, but it's probably the closest thing to a positive version of envy that is widely used in English.

Inspiration is more positive than motivation, which can be neutral or even negative in some cases, but both are widely used to mean positive encouragement.


Want, wish (for/to), lust (for/after), hope (for/to), desire, admire, emulate, plan (for/to), intend (to), will, envision, covet, aspire (to), hanker (for), yearn (for/to), and some form of (want to) share/enjoy the blessings (of)/ be blessed (like/as) [INSERT PERSON]

These can each, depending upon the context, convey a desire to "emulate" another's "gifts."

You may find that your meaning is better conveyed by a phrase that includes the object of lust, than with the replacement of a single word.

"I knew in my heart that I would someday have a mansion like hers."

"I long to be loved by as many friends as is my brother."

"My parents' marriage is an admirable one, the kind I hope to have for myself."

  • 2
    'Lust after' hardly corresponds to 'in a positive way'. Mar 5 '17 at 23:44
  • 3
    Aspire to is good, it indicates a positive desire to emulate a positive thing or behavior, but it's kind of hidden in the many other words. You may want to thin the herd a little. Also, the large number of quotation marks and other punctuation makes it look more like a stream of computer data than a sentence.
    – barbecue
    Mar 6 '17 at 0:44

While "inspire" and "aspire" are good fits, envy and jealousy have a slightly darkly humorous aspect when used to describe appreciation. Also, the wrongful desire makes the object even more valuable.

Examples of this usage can be found in the Twitter hashtag Jelly: "i hope i can sing with IA-san later, her voice is so deep~ #jelly"

For that reason, I propose Covet.

See the 2nd definition of Dictionary.com (verb with object) http://www.dictionary.com/browse/covet

  1. to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: "to covet another's property."
  2. to wish for, especially eagerly: "He won the prize they all coveted."

And when something is covetable, it is something that people want to have http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/covetable.

This can be compared to the proverb "immitation is the greatest flattery", which also takes a normally negative activity (immitating denotes lack of creativity) but still has a positive output to the object.


The word you are looking for is admiration.

  • 7
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    – choster
    Mar 6 '17 at 23:01
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    – herisson
    Mar 6 '17 at 23:15
  • @sumelic While the tour and help center do not provide detailed guidance on the suitability of answers, I will wager any day that the author of an answer such as this has never bothered with either, and would be edified as a general matter.
    – choster
    Mar 6 '17 at 23:17
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    It may be a rather short and unhelpful answer, but it contains the right word.
    – RedSonja
    Mar 7 '17 at 8:25

Check out the newer word 'compersion' on Wikipedia here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/compersion

The feeling of joy one has experiencing another's joy, such as in witnessing a toddler's joy and feeling joy in response.


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