I'm looking for a word that expresses a sense of professional commendment, and a touch of personal jealousy, though in a wholesome sense, for someone having a personality trait that you don't have.

Here's an example sentence:

Bob, to my great [admiration], kept a cool head and friendly tone throughout. Here was a man who had stolen from him, ruined his career and marriage, and Bob listened with a sympathetic ear as the man told him of his personal struggles.

  • then something like 'marvel'?
    – lbf
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 1:51
  • 4
    You could approach it descriptively like, "with enviable magnanimity" or "with an enviable grace"
    – Tom22
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 2:54
  • @Tom, that suggestion is better than any of the posted answers, most of which fail to express the absence of the trait in the admirer. Would you consider finding a reference and writing it into an answer? Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 13:25
  • 2
    DWJ, just in case you intend to use this in writing, I would recommend you add the following two words: and yet Bob listened with a sympathetic ear as...
    – NH.
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 16:21
  • 1
    And honestly, I would recommend rewording the first sentence rather than looking for a new word (admiration seems great based on the immediate context). If you absolutely need to mention envy, you could say, "Bob kept a cool head and friendly tone throughout, invoking my envy and admiration."
    – NH.
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 16:24

6 Answers 6


envy or better enviable + [commendable adjective] would get the point across in your title question. They express that the person mentioned has something good about them that you do not have to their degree.

I would choose"enviable" as opposed to "I envy" as envy has a sharper edge of jealousy to it and using "enviable" is more saying "the typical person would envy"

enviable from Cambridge online dictionary.

adjective US ​ /ˈen·vi·ə·bəl/ ​ (esp. of a quality or advantage) causing you to wish that you also possessed it; desirable:

She has an enviable ability to work under pressure.

In the example above a very generic "ability" is chosen

To go further, one can choose an adjective of a trait that is more a matter of special "character" rather than merely luck ( i.e. enviable compassion vs enviable good looks ) that further softens the "envy" into more of a 'aspiration' than "greed"

Your Example: your examples were specifically about the forgivingly noble ability to put things behind and focus on the task at hand.

I would suggest one of these two words for your particular example

Magnanimous at oxford living dictionaries : magnanimous ADJECTIVE Generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or less powerful person. ‘she should be magnanimous in victory’

  • Bob had an enviable magnanimity


Gracious at Oxford living dictionaries: Courteous, kind, and pleasant, especially towards someone of lower social status. ‘a gracious hostess’, ‘Greig was gracious in defeat’

  • Bob was took an enviably gracious approach ...

If you wanted to focus more about their field specialty, perhaps "professionalism" or "enviable intractability from their pursuit of knowledge(or justice, law, medicine etc)"

While you can choose to get long in your descriptive approach, it would be "enviable" that is perhaps the word itself you are looking for, coupled with words that elaborate to the degree of focus you might choose on a given field"

  • .Very creative! Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 20:48


Oxford Learners: feelings of respect and slight fear; feelings of being very impressed by something/somebody awe and respect awe and wonder He speaks of her with awe. ‘It's magnificent,’ she whispered in awe.

Idioms: be/stand in awe of somebody/something

to admire somebody/something and be slightly frightened of them/it While Diana was in awe of her grandfather, she adored her grandmother.

Your sentence:

Bob, to my great awe, etc.

(Better: Bob, to my awe, etc.)

It's not exactly a tinge of envy, but I think it's close enough that it could work for what you're trying to do.


Usually you aspire to be something you're not or have something you don't. The thing that you aspire to is usually your inspiration.

1.2A person or thing that inspires.
‘he is an inspiration to everyone’
Oxford Living Dicionaries

Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
‘his philosophy inspired a later generation of environmentalists’
with object and infinitive ‘his passion for literature inspired him to begin writing’
Oxford Living Dictionaries

Your sentence:

"Bob, to my great [inspiration], kept a cool head and friendly tone throughout."


Many great men and women of historical significance often formally expressed their great (or high) esteem and respect for their friends and colleagues. Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Jonathan Swift, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Pepys, Oliver Goldsmith, George Washington, Beethoven, Franz Kafka, Mary Shelley, British Earls and Viscounts, Daniel Defoe, Mary (Granville) Delaney --- and that doesn't even cover the first page of Google Books results.

It seems to have been very common usage then and perhaps might still be appropriate at times. I had immediately thought of respect, but looking into synonyms of admire / admiration led me also to esteem. The very first example of usage was in a correspondence that used both words together:

...accept the assurances of my great esteem and respect (in the Thomas Jefferson papers)

  • my great esteem
  • of my great esteem
  • have great esteem
  • of my high respect and esteem
  • with great esteem
  • in one's esteem
  • so great an esteem
  • your lordship's esteem
  • in great esteem
  • with the greatest esteem
  • the highest esteem and veneration
  • disesteem
  • of great esteem
  • for the great esteem

I did use all the endeavours I could to prepare and dispose the king to a great esteem of his plantations...

I figured with all those prepositions, there had to be a to in there somewhere. And again, it was found on page one of the Google search: page 422 of Cobbett's Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors..., Volume 6 (c.1810)

So for your purpose:

  • Bob earned my great esteem and respect by listening with a sympathetic ear.
  • I hold him in high esteem, because he is a great role model.
  • Of my great esteem he proved himself worthy.
  • Bob, to my great esteem, kept a cool head.

Possibly amazement in that particular sentence:

Bob, to my great amazement, kept a cool head and friendly tone throughout. Here was a man who had stolen from him, ruined his career and marriage, and Bob listened with a sympathetic as the man told him of his personal struggles.

The word here showing a hidden depth to Bob and which may induce a certain admiration and jealousy at his sangfroid.

  • To me this feels like the commenter didn't think Bob had it in him. At any rate, it's a good idea to include a definition (with a link) here at ELU. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 20:50

Commendation from commend:

an expression of approval, praise

In this case, I’d explicitly specify "silent", though:

Bob, to my silent commendation, kept a cool head...

It doesn’t explicitly cover jealousy, but you could say "envious commendation".

Of course, "commendment" is used in the original post, but I can find a citable definition for it.

  • Pam, could you show us how you would use it in something along the lines of OP's sentence? Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 20:49
  • @aparente001 Thanks for your prompting! I’ve added a brief edit.
    – Pam
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 21:28

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