Definition of zealot in US English:



  • 1A person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

    • ‘How did the respective religions allow such zealots to gain such followings?’
    • ‘The only people who cite the Columbia study are kooks and religious zealots.’
    • ‘Do religious zealots regularly cry ‘scum’ when they pass him by on the street?’
    • ‘When he talks about the case, he sounds less like a zealous advocate than a political zealot.’
    • ‘He says there have always been religious zealots, but modern technology has given them a lethal capacity.’
    • ‘The level of delusion here eclipses that of the most fanatical of religious zealots.’
    • ‘There will never be a time for reason when religious zealots believe they have control of this country.’
    • ‘The conversation was taking on the kind of circularity I've experienced in arguments with religious zealots.’
    • ‘I can't get the image of Glen and several religious zealots on the tire swing out of my mind.’
    • ‘Reams of unsolicited e-mail are generated daily by religious zealots.’
    • ‘Both appear to agree that religious zealots should be regarded as the authentic voice of their faith.’
    • ‘The Mater zealots have created an ideal opportunity for change.’
    • ‘The Religious zealot vehemently opposes curiosity or concern for anyone outside their circle.’
    • ‘The partisan crowd was waiting silently in anticipation as religious zealots would for a messiah.’
    • ‘Creationism often conjures visions of religious zealots who believe the book of Genesis verbatim.’
    • ‘The religious zealots see rai music as the apotheosis of a secular culture they consider lewd and impious.’
    • ‘Does anybody else see the logic error in stating that religious zealots wanted to create a secular nation?’
    • ‘No nation has freedom when it is run by religious zealots.’
    • ‘People said he didn't support faith, an interesting claim since Democrats labeled him a religious zealot.’
    • ‘Indeed through history there have been religious wars where zealots have perpetrated atrocities in the name of their religion.’
    fanatic, enthusiast, extremist, radical, young turk, diehard, activist, militant
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    1. 1.1historical A member of an ancient Jewish sect aiming at a world Jewish theocracy and resisting the Romans until AD 70.
      • ‘The Zealots were leading members of the revolt against Rome in 66-70 AD and at Masada they committed suicide rather than surrender to the Roman Tenth Legion.’
      • ‘One can think of the 1st century situation in Palestine where Jewish Zealots would publicly slit the throats of Romans and their collaborators.’
      • ‘After Herod's death in 4 BC, Masada was captured by the Romans, but in ad 66 Jewish Zealots took it by surprise and occupied it.’
      • ‘His friend Judas urges him to join the cause of the Zealots, rebels against Roman occupation.’
      • ‘The Jewish Zealots at Massada committed suicide rather than be defeated and taken into slavery by the Romans.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘member of an ancient Jewish sect’): via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek zēlōtēs, from zēloun ‘be jealous’, from zēlos (see zeal).