ho·​li·​ness | \ˈhō-lē-nəs \

Definition of holiness 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the quality or state of being holy used as a title for various high religious dignitaries His Holiness the Pope


adjective, often capitalized

Definition of holiness (Entry 2 of 2)

: emphasizing the doctrine of the second blessing specifically : of or relating to a perfectionist movement arising in U.S. Protestantism in the late 19th century

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of holiness in a Sentence


the holiness of this sacred place known throughout the world for his holiness, the prophet was visited daily by hundreds of pilgrims

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Though the broader theme of Francis’s guidance to the Catholic Church was holiness, some scholars read the work as a response to his conservative critics. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Why Mark Zuckerberg is embracing more regulation of political ads on Facebook," 10 Apr. 2018 Pour out your blessings upon HARRY and MEGHAN, that they may be joined in mutual love and companionship, in holiness and commitment to each other. Cnn Staff, CNN, "Full order of service for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle," 18 May 2018 On the great south lawn, guests gathered in groups, anxious to greet the new Jesuit in the family, with his new black habit and his new air of holiness. John L’heureux, The New Yorker, "The Long Black Line," 14 May 2018 As a result, a very specific, ornate aesthetic came to be associated with (if not directly linked to) holiness. refinery29.com, "Has Catholicism Earned This "Fashion" Moment?," 3 May 2018 The pope became the Catholic world’s most prominent model of holiness and a living embodiment of the church in the imagination of the faithful. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Even the Pope’s ‘Supreme’ Power Has Its Limits," 29 Apr. 2018 American photographer Thomas Laird spent 50 hours over 10 years with the Dalai Lama, and through all those candid conversations, one point stood out: Before his holiness could read, Tibetan murals were crucial to his early education. Liesl Bradner, latimes.com, "The murals of Tibet, with an assist from the Dalai Lama," 26 Apr. 2018 On Monday, as the Hungarian leader basked in his victory, Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation on the subject of holiness. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The pope’s challenge to Orban and Europe’s far right," 10 Apr. 2018 Our present culture turns the phrase upside down, worshiping outward appearance and the holiness of beauty. David Roper, idahostatesman, "We are as God made us — beautiful inside and out | Idaho Statesman," 26 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holiness.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of holiness


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1888, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about holiness

Statistics for holiness

Last Updated

2 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for holiness

The first known use of holiness was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for holiness



English Language Learners Definition of holiness

: the quality or state of being holy

Holiness —used in the titles of high religious officials


ho·​li·​ness | \ˈhō-lē-nəs \

Kids Definition of holiness

1 : the quality or state of being holy the holiness of saints

2 used as a title for persons of high religious position His Holiness the Pope

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on holiness

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for holiness

Spanish Central: Translation of holiness

Nglish: Translation of holiness for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of holiness for Arabic Speakers

Comments on holiness

What made you want to look up holiness? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a trusted follower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!