Definition of zealot in English:



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

    • ‘Indeed through history there have been religious wars where zealots have perpetrated atrocities in the name of their religion.’
    • ‘Creationism often conjures visions of religious zealots who believe the book of Genesis verbatim.’
    • ‘People said he didn't support faith, an interesting claim since Democrats labeled him a religious zealot.’
    • ‘Do religious zealots regularly cry ‘scum’ when they pass him by on the street?’
    • ‘No nation has freedom when it is run by religious zealots.’
    • ‘Reams of unsolicited e-mail are generated daily by religious zealots.’
    • ‘The religious zealots see rai music as the apotheosis of a secular culture they consider lewd and impious.’
    • ‘When he talks about the case, he sounds less like a zealous advocate than a political zealot.’
    • ‘I can't get the image of Glen and several religious zealots on the tire swing out of my mind.’
    • ‘The conversation was taking on the kind of circularity I've experienced in arguments with religious zealots.’
    • ‘The Mater zealots have created an ideal opportunity for change.’
    • ‘The level of delusion here eclipses that of the most fanatical of religious zealots.’
    • ‘Does anybody else see the logic error in stating that religious zealots wanted to create a secular nation?’
    • ‘There will never be a time for reason when religious zealots believe they have control of this country.’
    • ‘Both appear to agree that religious zealots should be regarded as the authentic voice of their faith.’
    • ‘How did the respective religions allow such zealots to gain such followings?’
    • ‘He says there have always been religious zealots, but modern technology has given them a lethal capacity.’
    • ‘The partisan crowd was waiting silently in anticipation as religious zealots would for a messiah.’
    • ‘The only people who cite the Columbia study are kooks and religious zealots.’
    • ‘The Religious zealot vehemently opposes curiosity or concern for anyone outside their circle.’
    fanatic, enthusiast, extremist, radical, young turk, diehard, activist, militant
    bigot, dogmatist, sectarian, partisan
    fiend, maniac, ultra, nut
    View synonyms
    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).