It is a popular misconception that nuclear fusion power is free of radioactivity; in fact, the deuterium-tritium reaction that nuclear scientists are currently exploring with such zeal produce both alpha particles and neutrons.

Studying GRE, I just faced this phrase.

Just based on the above sentence, do you think the writer intends to make those scientists seem to be pretty much preoccupied with their own research, without taking account of other things like its practicality or negative impacts, whatever, by using "with zeal"? or the opposite?

2 Answers 2


Zeal can be positive, negative, or neutral. You can only determine that from context.

In the example sentence you give, I would say it's neutral. The 'popular misconception' is not connected to the scientists, and there's nothing that indicates that the scientists are being dishonest or immoral.


That awkwardly-worded paragraph is not the usual way that "zeal" would be used.
"Zeal" is usually positive, meaning energetic enthusiasm. However, a "zealot" would be a person who takes zeal too far, someone blindly devoted to a cause or a cult.

Enthusiastic people might also be described as having a "zest for life."

  • This suggests that “zest” and “zeal” are related (in meaning and/or origin) but they are not.
    – Nick Jones
    Aug 1, 2020 at 17:18

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