green with envy / eggcorn

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green with envy / eggcorn

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:22 pm

What is the origin of the phrase "green with envy" or "green-eyed monster"? Why is the color green associated with jealousy?

Sarah
Houston, Texas, USA
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green with envy / eggcorn

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:37 pm

I remember Shakespeare called jealousy "the green-eyed monster" in Othello. I can't say whether that was the first time the phrase had been used, but that wouldn't be surprising.
H. GOMEZ
April 3rd
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:51 pm

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

GREEN WITH ENVY:

Full of desire for someone's possessions or advantages; extremely covetous. For example, ‘Her fur coat makes me green with envy.’ Shakespeare described envy as ‘the green sickness ‘(Anthony and Cleopatra, 3:2), but the current phrase, dating from the mid-1800s, is the one most often heard. Also see green-eyed monster.

GREEN-EYED MONSTER:

Jealousy, as in ‘Bella knew that her husband sometimes succumbed to the green-eyed monster.’ This expression was coined by Shakespeare in Othello (3:3), where Iago says: ‘O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.’ It is thought to allude to cats, often green-eyed, who tease their prey. Also see green with envy.

Ken G - April 3, 2002
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:05 pm

Merriam-Webster seems to link the "green with envy" sense of green with looking sick. Here's their definition.

7 a : marked by a pale, sickly, or nauseated appearance b : ENVIOUS 1 -- used especially in the phrase green with envy

April 3, 2002

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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:20 pm

The expression 'green with envy' is plainly a mondegreen. It is the result of mishearing 'green, with ivy', a common way of alluding to the enviable financial status of a well-known cluster of universities in the north-eastern USA (and one which makes many others sick).
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:34 pm

take heart erik dubya went to skull & bones & harvard & remained grossly uneducated.
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:49 pm

Come on, April Fools day is past. How about Ivy League come from the Roman number four, IV aye vee. Should that be Oy Veh?
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:03 pm

Hmm. I don't remember claiming to explain the origins of "Ivy League', but no matter. These are the members of the Ivy League: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale. Seems more like VIII to me.
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:17 pm

And let us not forget on the distaff side ‘The Seven Shysters’: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley.

Ken G - April 4, 2002
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:32 pm

A reporter was covering an athletic event between two Ivy League Universities, and because it was so slow and rather uninteresting, he wrote that he "had time to watch the ivy grow on the old buildings". And thus, the "Ivy League" phrase was born . . .

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Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:27 am

The 'Recently Noted' section of this week's email newsletter from etymologist Michael Quinion (subscribe at http://www.WorldWideWords.org) contains the following snippet:

"ADIEU -- Someone identifying herself only as Olivia found an article on the Safehaven Web site whose opening sentence reads: "Much adieu was made this week about the U.S. population crossing the 300 million mark on Tuesday, Oct. 17." It's an error, of course, but also yet another good example of what several US linguists now call eggcorns, word and phrases whose spelling changes through a type of folk etymology in which words are mistaken for similar-sounding ones or in which a person uses a well-known expression but a wrong word (the name comes from an error in which an American woman wrote "eggcorn" for "acorn"). Last week's "flying collars" in this section is another."

'Eggcorn' is a term that until today was new to me, and appears to be a relative of the 'mondegreen', whose existence, in a variety of manifestations, has been noted both in this posting and elsewhere on this site.

There is a website entirely devoted to eggcorns at http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/ (and Googling eggcorn will yield many more occurrences).

Quinion goes on to discuss a further example:

"PLASHY -- Yet another eggcorn was discussed in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago, a word in the famous line from Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, "Feather footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole". A reader pointed out that his edition has "splashy", presumably the result of an editor or typesetter replacing a strange word with one he knew, a classic case of eggcornery. "Plashy" is correct: it's a quote from John Milton (and also from Shelley: "n that green glen, / Like stifled torrents, made a plashy fen / Under the feet"). "Plashy" means "abounding in or characterized by shallow pools or puddles; marshy, swampy, boggy". It's probably imitative, the OED says."

A more logical eggcorn for that Safehaven article would have been 'hello baboo' rather than 'adieu'. But no matter.
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green with envy / eggcorn

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat Oct 28, 2006 11:06 am

"Mucha doo" works too.
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green with envy / eggcorn

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:43 pm

Far more universities are red with bricks than green with ivy. Perhaps perversely, New Labour seems intent on switching to mostly green policies. It could be a way of preventing brown ones.
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green with envy / eggcorn

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:43 am

Getting back to the above original 2002 request by Sarah for the origin of the expression and why GREEN:

It appears that Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice was the first to connect GREEN with jealousy (see 1596 quote below), but in that quote there is no real hint of why green. However, in the 1604 Othello quote (see below) it is said by all sources that I checked that Shakespeare is referring to a green-eyed cat toying with its victim before killing it. O.K., I'll buy that! So the GREEN-EYED MONSTER, at least, is then supposedly a green-eyed cat. But why just green-eyed cats and not cats with other color eyes? And what does jealousy have to do with cats playing with their food? One source suggested that oriental jade ground into powder and used as a love potion by jealous suitors to win their loved ones had something to do with it. Although this gets green into the picture better than cats toying with their victims, it has the smell of a bogus invention made up to fit the crime. So it looks to me like we have Shakespeare as the originator of the GREEN related to JEALOUSY/ENVY part, but the ultimate reason for the choice of that color is ‘unknown.’
________________________________________

Erik, Very interesting article and I like the new variation EGGCORN and will be a future user. It sounds like it’s from the more earthy branch of the family, whereas MONDEGREEN is the from the more gentile branch.

Above (back in April of 2002) you said:
<“The expression 'green with envy' is plainly a mondegreen. It is the result of mishearing 'green, with ivy', a common way of alluding to the enviable financial status of a well-known cluster of universities in the north-eastern USA (and one which makes many others sick).”>
I recall thinking, how did you know that, and your assertion still bothers me. What makes it “plainly a mondegreen?” It initially struck me that a hoary old and widely used expression like GREEN WITH ENVY didn’t feel like it needed to be, or would have been, spawned by a relatively modern-sounding and obscure insiders reference to a few U.S. colleges being flush with cash. In fact, I wasn’t sure at the time if you were serious. However, with the addition of the present ‘eggcorn’ to the ‘mondgreen’ title of the posting, it seems that you were.

After doing some checking, I found that GREEN WITH ENVY actually ain’t as hoary as I had originally supposed, with the earliest example that I could find being from a relatively recent 1853 (see quote below), which is in agreement with the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms claim that it arose in the mid-1800s. However, I am of the opinion that your GREEN, WITH IVY (which I have never heard and was unable to find an example of), and which you say is a common way of alluding to the enviable financial status of those north-eastern universities, is even less hoary. In fact, it strikes me that the chances that it existed before the GREEN WITH ENVY meaning, in order for it to have been ‘mondegreened,’ are not great, unless, of course you have some evidence that it did.

The earliest example I could find of IVY being used in reference to the U.S. elite colleges (was from 1933 (see quote below). And I did a pretty extensive search on such terms as ‘ivy,’ ‘ivy-covered,’ etc, in combination with each of the Ivy League colleges (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale), ‘college,’ ‘school,’ ‘institution,’ ‘buildings,’ etc. and came up with zilch before the 1930s. Similarly, the earliest example of the use of the term IVY LEAGUE was from 1935 (see quotes below) when it referred to an informal association of college football teams, which actually wasn't completely formalized to what the IVY LEAGUE means today until 1954. There are several theories as to origin of the phrase IVY LEAGUE, which I will leave for a future posting, but I found nothing in these which shed any light on the present discussion.

It seems pretty clear to me that the expression IVY and IVY LEAGUE in reference to the eastern elite colleges was not in general use until well into the 20th century, at least according to the material that I was able to search, which was quite a bit. What I don’t know for sure is if the IVY expressions were in very local use in speech and perhaps in campus newspapers before that, but I have the feeling that if they were, it wasn’t as early as 1853 or it certainly seems like they would have bled into the general media in the ensuing 80 years. And I guess my question is what basis do you have for believing that your expression GREEN, WITH IVY, which you say means flush with bucks with regard to the elite eastern colleges, was around early enough to have provided the basis for what you say is the mondegreen/eggcorn GREEN WITH ENVY (circa 1853)?

Another possibility I would consider is that the plain old, literal GREEN WITH IVY could have been the basis for a mondgreen/egghorn leading to GREEN WITH ENVY, independent of any reference to the financial status of the Ivy League colleges. And I did find examples of that literal sense dating back to the mid-19th century (see circa 1843, 1856, and 1857 quotes), but since it is just a common descriptive phrase, I’m guessing it was probably around earlier than that. But I’d have to see some proof before I’d say there was any connection between these two.
<1596 “How all the other passions fleet to air, as doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair, and shuddering fear, and GREEN-EYED jealousy! O love, Be moderate”—‘Merchant of Venice’ by Shakespeare, III, ii>

<1604 “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the GREEN-EYED MONSTER which doth mock
the meat it feeds on.”—‘Othello’ by Shakespeare, III, iii>

<1606 “Octavia weeps to part from Rome; Caesar is sad; and Lepidus, since Pompey's feast, as Menas says, is troubled With the GREEN sickness.”—‘Antony and Cleopatra’ by Shakespeare, III, ii>

<1627 “How GREEN-EYED Neptune raves.”—‘At a Vacation Exercise in the College’ by Milton, 43>

<1701 “The wholsomest food for GREEN consumptive minds.”—‘Love Makes a Man’ by Cibber, II, ii>

<1853 “. . . ‘You, at whose luck all Paris is wild with astonishment and GREEN WITH ENVY!’”—‘ Marmaduke Wyvil; An Historical Romance of 1651,’ by Henry William Herbert, page 408>

<1854 “The Mingos [[Indian tribe]] will turn GREEN WITH ENVY [[over Deerslayer’s new rifle ‘Killdeer’]].”—‘The Deerslayer’ by James Fenimore Cooper, page 176>

<1856 “. . . where the old men in black coats were walking in the sun along a terrace GREEN WITH IVY.”— ‘Madam Bovary’ by Flaubert, Part III, Ch. 1>

<1856 “ . . . and old wall, half GREEN WITH IVY, that looks in the distance, like a film of verdigris upon it . . .”—‘The Rhine and its Picturesque Scenery’ by Henry Mayhew, page 192>

<1857 “. . . seated exultant on the top of the Dewerstone Rock, amidst its rough granitic crags, ever GREEN WITH IVY . . .”—‘The Living Age, Volume 52, Issue 661, 24 January, page 214>

<1861 “There is an unsoundness in the man or woman who turns GREEN WITH ENVY as a handsome carriage drives past . . .”—‘The Recreations of a Country Parson’ by Andrew K. H. Boyd, page 189>

<1863 “The doctor was turning almost GREEN WITH JEALOUSY.”—‘Hard Cash’ by Reade, xliii>

<1870 “. . . a still more numerous public not initiated, and GREEN WITH ENVY of the fashionable pubic—very green . . .”—‘The Dance of Modern Society’ by W. C. Wilkinson, page 36>

<1881 “Superbly modelled craft, whose lines would have made the old Baltimore clipper-builders GREEN WITH ENVY.”—‘Daily Telegraph,’ 5 July, page 2/2>

<1882 “Mr. H. W. Preston in the November Naturalist, gives an account of a botanical excursion . . . which is enough to make our collectors GREEN WITH ENVY.”—‘Botanical Gazette,’ Vol. 7, No. 11, November, page 125>

<1889 “It turned Brer Merlin GREEN WITH ENVY and spite, which was a great satisfaction to me.”—‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ by Mark Twain, page 34>

<1933 “The fates which govern [football] play among the ivy colleges and academic boiler-factories alike seem to be going around the circuit.”—‘New York Herald Tribune,’ 16 October, page 18/1>

<1935 “The so-called Ivy League’ which is in the process of formation among a group of the older Eastern universities, now seems to have welcomed Brown into the fold and automatically assumed the proportions of a ‘Big Eight.’”—‘ The Lincoln Star,’ 9 February, page 12>

<1935 “Eastern College ‘Ivy’ League Looms as Reality Next Season. New York, Feb. 19 (AP).—The rapidity with which the old guard Eastern universities have been revising their football schedules indicate today to observers that the ‘Ivy League,’ so-called, will be a reality by 1936 at the latest.”—‘Washington Post,’ 20 February, page 19>

<1935 “Determined to have at least one big track meet in the East in which some rude California college won’t gallop away with the championship the newly organized and appropriately named Ivy League holds a matinee on the sacred sward of Princeton today.”—‘Los Angeles Times,’ 11 May, page 7>

<1935 “Although one of the East’s four major undefeated and untied teams, Dartmouth is not going our of its way to catch the eye of the Rose Bowl host. The Indians [[Dartmouth]] would like, however, the ‘ivy’ league’s mythical title . . .”—‘New York Times,’ 5 November, page 35>

<1936 “Yale is favored slightly in this important ‘ivy-league’ clash in which a victory or tie will bring the Blue coveted ‘Big Three’ honors for the season.”—‘Chicago Tribune,’ 21 November, page 22>

<1936 “‘Ivy League’ is the newspaper nickname for a non-existent football league made up of old, ivy-covered colleges on the East Coast. Last week, undergraduate newspapers at Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale simultaneously printed identical editorials advocating that the "Ivy League" be made a reality with conference rules, schedule restrictions patterned on those of the Midwest's Big Ten. ‘Ivy League’ athletic officials pooh-poohed the idea.”—‘Time Magazine,’ 14 December>

<1939 “The ‘Ivy League’ is something which does not exist and is simply a term which has been increasingly used in recent years by sports writers, applied rather loosely to a group of eastern colleges.”—‘Princeton Alumni Weekly,’ 29 September>
Interesting, but not relevant to the above arguments, are recent examples of GREEN WITH IVY, meaning something like ‘having lots of,‘ ‘being verdant with,' or 'flourishing with IVY LEAGUERS.’ In these instances I'd say it is being used as a pun in what might be termed an ‘intentional reverse mondegreen/eggcorn’ of GREEN WITH ENVY.
<2000 “She promotes the joys of composting with a jaunty panache that would make Martha Stewart GREEN WITH IVY.”—‘Los Angeles Times,’ 6 January>

<2004 “4 Best Colleges GREEN WITH IVY, Associated Press: Perhaps a playoff is in order. For the second straight year, Harvard and Princeton share the top spot in the controversial U.S. News & World Report rankings of ‘America's Best Colleges.’ Princeton earned at least a tie for the No. 1 ranking for the fifth consecutive year of the rankings, which saw few changes among the highest-rated schools. The latest survey, which hits newsstands Monday, again has Yale at No. 3, followed by the University of Pennsylvania.”— ‘San Diego Union-Tribune,’ 20 August 20>

<2005 “Dartmouth: GREEN WITH IVY: Dartmouth [[women’s lacrosse team]] has been impressive all year long, coming into their own with a number of people stepping up at the offensive end when they need them. Whitney Douthett has been a key to the success of the Big Green with her emergence as an offensive threat, both with and without the ball.”—[[spring semester]] http://www.womenslacrosse.com/bertnerni ... _and_Ernie>
(Oxford English Dictionary, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Picturesque Expressions by Urdang, American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
_____________________

Ken – October 30, 2006
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:01 am

Ken, I see that my sense of humour has caught up with me yet again. The 'green, with ivy' reference was indeed made in jest, and I apologise for leading you off on a wild goose chase.

That being said, you have unearthed a lot of interesting information regarding the history of the term 'Ivy League' which will certainly not be wasted.

Returning to the original query about 'green with envy', I am in agreement with you that toying with one's food has no obvious link with envy or jealousy; and it occurred to me that the feline association with green may simply be due to a common perception that the majority of cats (at least those that have not been subjected to selective breeding -- your average moggies, in other words) have green eyes.

With my imagination faltering beyond this point, I consulted Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, which yielded the following under 'Green-eyed monster':

------------------------

"So Shakespeare called jealousy:

Iago: O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

Othello, III, iii (1604)

A greenish complexion was formerly held to be indicative of jealousy, and as all the green-eyed cat family 'mock the meat they feed on', so jealousy mocks its victim by loving and loathing it at the same time."

------------------------

Now, I am not convinced that to be able to be jealous of someone, it is necessary to love them. I would also quibble that an abstraction (in this case, jealousy) is incapable of any kind of emotion, and that it is especially peculiar to speak of an emotion being ambivalent in its feelings: surely what the compiler of the entry really meant was "a jealous person or animal mocks its victim by loving and loathing it at the same time".

However, in accordance with the same principle by which most car accidents occur within a mile of home, I would contend that the most people's feelings of jealousy are directed chiefly towards their loved ones (specifically, their friends, partners and siblings). This therefore appears to be the most plausible explanation, if not necessarily a conclusive one.
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