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Top 7 Symbols of Jealousy and Their Meanings

Top 7 Symbols of Jealousy and Their Meanings

Jealousy is a very common personality trait amongst humans and even animals. Jealousy stems from feelings of insecurity or fear over something you lack that someone else has. This can include material wealth or status. Jealousy comprises several prime emotions such as disgust, helplessness, resentment, and anger.

Jealousy can be typically experienced in human relationships. Infants that are as young as five months have been observed displaying signs of jealousy. Several researchers have stated that jealousy is a universal trait that can be observed in all cultures. 

Other researchers have claimed that jealousy might be a culture-specific emotion. Cultural values and beliefs influence what triggers jealousy. They also define what expressions of jealousy are socially acceptable. 

Symbols of jealousy have been widely explored in works of literature, paintings, books, songs, and plays. Many theologians have also come up with religious views pertaining to jealousy based on the interpretation of their respective scriptures.

Let’s have a look at the top 7 most important symbols of jealousy:

1. Yellow Color

Rough Yellow Wall.
Rough Yellow Wall
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Many meanings can be associated with the color yellow. This color can connote both positive and negative traits. Positive traits associated with this color include happiness, positivity, energy, and freshness. Some negative traits linked to the yellow color are deceit and cowardice. Yellow is also used as an avid symbol of jealousy. [1]

Different shades of yellow also hold symbolic significance. For example, light yellow implies positive traits, while dull yellow represents negative ones. A dullish dingy yellow also refers to feelings of envy or jealousy. [2] Some say that in parts of Europe such as Germany, yellow specifically symbolizes jealousy. [3]

2. Green Color

Green color has been associated with jealousy throughout history. Some say the Green color has symbolized jealousy since the time of the ancient Greeks. Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ also discusses the theme of jealousy.

Othello is manipulated by his best friend Lago until he starts believing his wife has been unfaithful to him. Lago describes jealousy as a green-eyed monster. The phrase ‘green with envy’ is also used in the play. [4] Before Shakespeare used the color green to symbolize envy, this color was used if someone was visibly sick.

In his book, David Feldman claimed that the Greeks had used the terms ‘pale’ and ‘green’ interchangeably to imply sickness. Hence, when you were sick, your body produced more bile which gave your skin a green tint. [5]

3. Dogs

A woman with her loyal dog.
A woman with her dog
Photo by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

Dogs mostly represent positive traits such as vigilance or loyalty. But a few negative traits are also represented by dogs. This includes jealousy. Dogs can symbolize jealousy because they can be envious of each other’s food. [6]

Research suggests dogs can also get jealous when their owners interact with their social rivals. Even if this interaction is out of sight of their dog, dogs can still display jealous behavior. Therefore, social interactions that introduce jealousy can happen with dogs.

When jealous, dogs can have different reactions. This can include looking at their owners for a long time or moving between the owner and the rival, or even pushing the owner. [7] In the bible, dogs have also been used to represent envy. [8]

4. Rats

Pet rats on a wooden background.
Pet Rats

In Chinese zodiac signs, the 12-year cycle starts with the rat. People who are born under this sign are supposed to be sensitive, envious and jealous, social and intense in their emotions. In Chinese, the written symbol for rat is a pictogram of a rat with feet and a tail.

It is also a symbol of timidity and selfishness. It also represents fertility and reproduction because these animals can reproduce very quickly and are numerous in number. Also, they can find abundant food to eat. Dreaming of a Rat also means jealousy, guilt, pride, envy, and anger. [9] [10]

5. Snake

Corn snake wrapped around a branch.
Corn snake wrapped around a branch

Jealousy is often symbolized by a snake. The root of this symbol can lay in the story of Adam and Eve when the snake tricks them into eating the forbidden apple. The snake is also used as a sign of possessiveness, envy, vice, and firmness.

In Japanese culture, the snake is feared and disliked. Often negative characteristics in women such as greed or envy are compared to the snake. If a woman displays greediness, her character is said to be like a snake. If a woman is vengeful or envious, a common saying is that ‘she has eyes like a snake’. When the phrase ‘eyes like a snake’ is applied to a man it is referred to cruel and cold-blooded nature. [11]

6. Phthonus

In Greek Mythology, Phthonos or Zelus was the personification of envy and jealousy. This jealousy was especially in romantic matters. This Greek god was the son of Nyx and Dionysus. He had numerous wives whom he called because he suspected they were unfaithful to him.

Apart from mortals, he influenced the gods such as Hera, whom he informed about the adulterous affairs of her husband, Zeus. It was his plan that killed Semele, one of Zeus’s lovers, when she asked him to appear in his full glory, thus burning her instantly. [12] [13]

7. Fofo Plant

Fofo Plant Symbol.
Fofo Plant Symbol
Illustration 195964410 © Dreamsidhe |

The Fofo plant is often linked to envy and jealousy. The Fofo plant’s petals turn black and spiky seeds when they drop. So, this plant is often linked to the nature of a jealous person. [14] The Fofo plant has long since been used as a symbol of jealousy and covetousness.

The Fofo plant itself is a very pretty flower with white petals and a yellow center. But when the petals drop, they transition into a black color. The Fofo plant also has a metaphorical meaning. Through its transition, it tells us that we should always change the negative aspects of our life into positive ones. 


Jealousy is a very common human emotion that can be felt by children and adults alike. Every individual has a unique personality. Some people may experience stronger feelings of jealousy than others.

But jealousy itself is a trait found in more than one-third of the entire human population.

Which of these symbols of jealousy were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments below.


  7. Bastos, Neilands, Hassall. Dogs Mentally Represent Jealousy-inducing Social Interactions. Association of Psychological Science. 2021.
  11. Olper. Japanese Folk Belief Concerning the Snake. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology. 1945. p.249-259