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Avarice vs. Greed: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
Avarice is an insatiable desire for wealth or material gain, while greed is the intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

Key Differences

Avarice is a word that conveys an intense, insatiable longing for wealth, often with a sense of hoarding and miserliness. Greed, while similar, is a broader term that denotes an excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions, power, or even indulgences such as food. Avarice is an extreme form of greed, specifically focused on the accumulation and hoarding of riches and often regarded as morally corrupt.
While both avarice and greed are characterized by an excessive desire for more than one needs or deserves, avarice is particularly associated with money and riches and can imply a refusal to spend even on necessities. Greed, on the other hand, can apply to any form of insatiable want, not just monetary. It is also less likely to imply the miserly aspect that avarice does.
Avarice can be seen as a calculated and cold pursuit, where the accumulation of wealth is an end in itself. Greed might be more impulsive, a more general longing that can lead to overindulgence in various aspects of life. For example, a person might be greedy for food, attention, or experiences, not just wealth.
In literature, characters driven by avarice often meet a downfall due to their obsessive hoarding and stinginess. Greed, while it can also lead to downfall, is often portrayed as a broader moral failing that can manifest in various destructive behaviors. Avarice is the miser’s vice, while greed is the glutton’s or the tyrant’s.
The consequences of avarice might include isolation and a life deprived of joy, as the avaricious person might refuse to part with their wealth even for their own comfort or happiness. The consequences of greed can range from personal health issues, like obesity from overeating, to societal problems, like corruption or environmental degradation due to the greedy exploitation of resources.

Comparison Chart


Specifically on the accumulation and hoarding of wealth.
Can be on wealth, power, food, or any indulgence.


Often implies miserliness and refusal to spend.
Broader, can imply overindulgence and lack of self-control.


Extreme form of greed with a particular focus on wealth.
Can range from mild to extreme in the desire for more.

Usage in Literature

Typically involves characters who hoard wealth and meet downfall.
Often depicted as a moral failing leading to various vices.

Emotional Tone

Cold, calculated, miserly.
Impulsive, insatiable, indulgent.

Avarice and Greed Definitions


Extreme greed for wealth or material gain.
The pirate’s avarice led him to bury his treasure rather than spend it.


Excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.
The billionaire's greed was apparent in his relentless pursuit of money.


Insatiable desire to hoard wealth.
His avarice was evident in his refusal to donate to any charity.


Voracious appetite for more than one needs or deserves.
Their greed for fame overshadowed their talent.


Miserly inclination to amass and preserve wealth.
Her avarice kept her from enjoying the very wealth she had accumulated.


Intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth or power.
His greed for power became his undoing.


Excessive or inordinate covetousness for riches.
The avarice of the corporation led to unethical business practices.


Avaricious or covetous thirst for wealth.
The executive's greed led to a scandal that toppled the business.


A reprehensible acquisitiveness; overweening desire for wealth.
The old miser’s avarice was notorious throughout the town.


Ardent desire for material gain or increase.
The company was criticized for its greed when it raised prices.


Immoderate desire for wealth; cupidity.


An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth
"Many ... attach to competition the stigma of selfish greed" (Henry Fawcett).


Excessive or inordinate desire of gain; greed for wealth


A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth, food, or other possessions.
His greed was his undoing.


To desire in a greedy manner, or to act on such a desire.


An eager desire or longing; greediness; as, a greed of gain.


Excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves


Reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth (personified as one of the deadly sins)


Does greed always involve money?

No, greed can relate to any excessive desire, like for food or attention.

Is avarice considered a vice?

Yes, it's traditionally viewed as a negative trait or vice.

Can greed be positive?

It's usually seen as negative, but some argue that it can drive progress.

Are avarice and envy the same?

No, envy is the desire for others' traits or possessions, while avarice is the desire for wealth.

Can someone be accused of avarice for wanting a raise?

Not typically; avarice involves an insatiable and unethical quest for wealth.

Does avarice include the desire for non-material things?

No, it specifically relates to material wealth.

Can businesses exhibit avarice?

Yes, when they prioritize profits over ethics.

Do all societies view greed the same way?

No, cultural perspectives on greed can vary.

Is avarice a mental illness?

No, it's not classified as a mental illness.

Is avarice only a human trait?

It's mainly associated with humans, given its conceptual complexity.

Can avarice affect relationships?

Yes, it can lead to mistrust and isolation.

Are children capable of avarice?

They can show signs of greed, but avarice implies a more complex understanding of wealth.

Is avarice the same as greed?

Avarice is a type of greed, specifically focused on wealth.

How can one combat avarice?

Through generosity, ethical living, and reflection on one's values.

How is greed portrayed in religions?

Most religions condemn greed as morally and spiritually detrimental.

Can greed lead to crime?

Yes, it can motivate people to commit theft, fraud, etc.

Is greed a theme in literature?

Yes, it's a common theme exploring the human condition.

Can greed be a survival instinct?

To some extent, as accumulating resources can be linked to survival.

Can greed be good for the economy?

Some economists believe it can stimulate growth, but others disagree.

Is greed an emotion?

It's more a state or trait than an emotion.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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