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Greed vs. Envy: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 17, 2024
Greed is the intense desire for more than one needs or deserves, especially regarding wealth or possessions, while envy is a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, or possessions.

Key Differences

Greed is focused on the insatiable desire to acquire more resources or possessions. Envy centers on the desire for what others have, coupled with feelings of resentment.
Greed is an internal drive, seeking personal gain without regard to others. Envy involves external comparison, feeling discontent about what others possess.
Greed often leads to hoarding and exploitation. Envy can result in feelings of inferiority and a desire to diminish the success of others.
Greed can lead to ethical lapses and social inequality. Envy can harm personal relationships and foster a toxic environment.
Greed stems from a sense of lack or insufficiency in oneself. Envy arises from a sense of injustice or unfairness in comparison to others.

Comparison Chart

Emotional Basis

Desire for excessive acquisition
Resentment towards others' possessions


Personal gain
Comparison with others

Resulting Behavior

Hoarding, exploitation
Feelings of inferiority, resentment

Social Impact

Can lead to social inequality
Harms personal relationships

Psychological Origin

Sense of insufficiency
Sense of unfairness or injustice

Greed and Envy Definitions


Greed is synonymous with avarice.
Her avarice for wealth knew no bounds.


Envy involves jealous resentment.
Her envy of her colleague's success was evident.


Greed is a materialistic focus on gaining possessions.
The company's greed for profit led to unethical practices.


Envy is a feeling of covetousness towards another's possessions.
He felt envy for his neighbor's new car.


Greed involves an insatiable appetite for accumulating wealth.
His greed for success overshadowed his morals.


Envy is desiring what others have.
He was filled with envy upon seeing their happy family.


Greed is the relentless pursuit of wealth.
Their greed drove them to ignore the needs of others.


Envy can stem from a feeling of inferiority.
Her envy grew from feeling less accomplished.


Greed is an excessive desire for more than one needs.
His greed for money led him to work tirelessly.


Envy means begrudging others for their advantages.
His envy of their wealth was consuming him.


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).


A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another. See Usage Note at jealous.


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.


The object of such feeling
Their new pool made them the envy of their neighbors.


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)


What is greed?

Greed is an excessive and insatiable desire for more wealth or possessions than needed.

Can envy be positive?

Envy is typically seen as negative, but it can sometimes motivate self-improvement.

What is envy?

Envy is a feeling of discontent and covetousness regarding another's success or possessions.

Does envy always involve resentment?

Envy often includes feelings of resentment, though it can also involve admiration.

Can greed be beneficial?

Greed is generally harmful, though some argue it can drive ambition and economic growth.

How can envy affect relationships?

Envy can damage relationships through mistrust, resentment, and conflict.

How is greed portrayed in literature?

Greed is often depicted as a destructive force in literature.

Is greed always related to money?

While often associated with money, greed can also relate to power, status, or other resources.

How does greed affect behavior?

Greed can lead to unethical behavior, exploitation, and hoarding.

Is it possible to overcome greed?

Overcoming greed involves cultivating contentment and empathy.

Are there cultural differences in perceptions of greed?

Perceptions of greed vary, with some cultures viewing it more negatively than others.

How can one manage envy?

Managing envy involves focusing on gratitude and personal growth.

How does society view envy?

Envy is generally viewed negatively, as it implies discontent with one's situation.

What causes envy?

Envy is often caused by comparison with others and a sense of unfairness.

What are the signs of greed?

Signs include an obsessive focus on acquiring wealth and indifference to ethical considerations.

Is envy different from jealousy?

Envy focuses on what others have, while jealousy involves fear of losing something to another.

Can envy lead to positive change?

In rare cases, envy can motivate individuals to improve their own circumstances.

Is greed a learned behavior?

Greed can be influenced by cultural, environmental, and psychological factors.

Can envy be hidden?

People often hide envy due to its negative social connotations.

Can greed affect mental health?

Excessive greed can lead to stress, anxiety, and unhappiness.
About Author
Written 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.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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