Can someone tell me the difference between these to words. Are they both regularly used?

They seem to both indicate jealousy. I've seen 羡慕 on different occasions and I'm used to that one, but I've come across 妒忌 a couple of times lately and wanted to know if they were interchangeable.

  • 嫉妒, 忌妒, 妒忌 are the same, 忌妒 is common.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 5:54

5 Answers 5


羡慕 is a good kind of envy.

"You have a happy marriage. I'm really envy at you and I hope you can be happy forever" This is 羡慕.

妒忌 is a bad kind of jealousy.

"You have a happy marriage. You don't deserve it! I should be happier than you!" This is 妒忌.

  • 2
    +1 concise and spot on!
    – NS.X.
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 20:58
  • 1
    Can you define what is a bad kind of envy and a good kind of jealousy?
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 1:48
  • @杨以轩 I imagine a good kind of jealousy involves the "jealousy" that is largely congratulatory, and conveys a sense of humility while empowering the subject, e.g. "Congratulations on the well-deserved prize, quite frankly I'm jealous!" in which 羡慕 would be appropriate. Whenever the jealousy is negative and harmful to the subject while conveying a sense that the speaker is more deserving i.e. conveying arrogance), 妒忌 is more appropriate e.g. "I'm jealous of that prize, it should be me and not you getting it, you don't deserve it and I do."
    – Marko
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 7:52

羡慕 = 看见别人有某种长处、好处或有利条件而 希望自己也有

妒忌 = 看见别人有某种长处、好处或有利条件而 心怀怨恨


羡慕 is envy, where as 妒忌 is jealousy.

  • 2
    Hi Zoey. Can you expand on your answer a little bit. Maybe provide some example sentences?
    – user3871
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 17:45
  • I think "envy/jealousy" cannot explain the difference between 羡慕 and 妒忌. So far as I know, 羡慕 is a neutral verb, but 妒忌 has derogatory sense and its degree of envy is higher than 羡慕.
    – Stan
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 1:33
  • This answer is perfectly correct, just too short for an answer. @Stan, what do you mean by 妒忌 having a derogatory sense?
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 1:53
  • @QuestionOverflow: Hmm I find you're right. Sorry for my English-Chinese dictionary explains envy as "羡慕 and 妒忌", so I misunderstand English doesn't distinguish 羡慕 and 妒忌. The derogatory sense refers to the bad meaning of "妒忌/嫉妒: you have something good, so I hate you have that besides I hope I also can have that", it seems it's just like the definition of "jealousy".
    – Stan
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 2:38
  • Synonymous (at least as far as I can tell) to 妒忌 are both 嫉妒 and 妒嫉. All three refer to jealousy. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 16:18

羡慕 means envy 嫉妒 means jealous, jealousy, this is normally a negative word.

here are some examples, 我羡慕你。 I envy you(maybe because you are good at singing.), which means that I hope to have the same thing that you have(I want to be as good at singing as you are.).

我嫉妒你。 I'm jealous of you(maybe because you are good at singing), the meaning overlaps with that of the previous sentence, but this sentence implies the probability that I might do something to stop you being that good, due to the fact that you are so good at singing, but I'm not as good as you.

I hope I've made myself clear.

  • What's the relationship between 妒忌 (in the question) and 嫉妒 (in this answer)?
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 23:44
  • >What's the relationship between 妒忌 (in the question) and 嫉妒 (in this answer)? It's potato (potayto) vs potato (potahto).
    – dhwang
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 18:02

羡慕 is an approving verb for "envy", i.e. "admire", that is to say "I envy you, and I hope you better."

妒忌 is a derogatory verb for "envy", i.e. "be jealous", that is to say "I envy you, because I hate you. You shouldn't be better than me."

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