The Oxford definition of envy is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by another's better fortune (Allen 392). The focus of the seven deadly sins is based on religious thought. Envy is defined religiously as" thou shall not covet." According to the Roman Catholic catechisms envy is considered a "venial" sin, but it would need to be confessed. Thus, if an individual commits a venial sin and does not confess, one would have to spend time in purgatory before entering heaven (Matusiak). Kevin J. Rice states that the Methodist position that envy is an emotion and that it is the feeling of glee that a person has. Accordingly the individual does not envy an object but envies the people who use the object. One instance would be," I am not envious of a Corvette; I am envious of a person who owns a Corvette because I would like the emotions of glee, power, and speed that come with driving it" (Rice). Analyzing the word origin, the term envy is the Latin word invidere, which meant to look at askance or to see with malice. The Latin root word comes from the Greek, eidos, meaning form or idea (Iyer). .
In the twentieth century Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytical theory, defined envy as a major characteristic of emotional distress. His classic example is the Electra theory in which younger girls envied the male penis and thus felt inadequate throughout their lifetime. Freud's position was based upon Judaic thought and the culture of his time in the nineteenth century Austria (Sigmund). .
Throughout recorded history are many incidences of groups, religions, and nations who envy each other. Spain in the sixteenth century was probably the richest of the European nations after they looted the Americans of billions in gold. They were constantly at war, their ships were plundered, and their treasures were scattered to the Holy Roman Empire (Zevin 367).
Currently, the poorer Muslim nations of the world detest the wealth and power of the western nations.