Idiom: Green-Eyed Monster-Definition and Origin

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Origin of the Idiom: Green-Eyed Monster

The idiom, “green-eyed monster,” comes from Shakespeare’s Othello, a play about jealousy. And, jealousy is referred to as the “green-eyed monster,” in this work of fiction. In fact, there’s no actual monster or players with green eyes in Othello, it’s just to represent envy. 

Othello’s Green-Eyed Monster

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In the play, Lago, the antagonist, says “O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mocks the meat it feeds on.” Or simply put, jealousy, the “green-eyed monster,” makes a monster of anyone who lets it into their life, hence, it mocks that which it feasts upon. 

It’s believed that the idiom “green-eyed monster” alludes to the eyes of cats. Their eyes tease their prey before pouncing on them. But, as is the case with all idioms, its origin is unknown, there’s no telling where Shakespeare heard it before he wrote it in Othello. 

Meaning of Green-Eyed in Western Culture

In Western culture, green is associated with 2 things, money, and jealousy. And those who envy are said to have “a green complexion.” So, green is usually associated with greed, envy, jealousy, and money. 

My advice to you, while studying English, is don’t let the green-eyed monster get you. It mocks the meat it feeds on. If someone has better grammar or pronunciation than you, that’s fine, practice until you reach your goals. Anything is better than falling to the green-eyed monster. 

Examples of the Idiom Green-Eyed Monster

  • Don’t let the green-eyed monster ruin your relationship. 
  • Molly couldn’t think straight because she was bitten by the green-eyed monster. 
  • Because of the green-eyed monster, his brother fought with him. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try and make your own sentence using the idiom “Green-eyed monster” in it.

Q2: How do you keep yourself from giving in to the green-eyed monster? 

Q3: How do different genders experience the green-eyed monster? 

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