ho·​ly | \ ˈhō-lē How to pronounce holy (audio) \
holier; holiest

Definition of holy

1 : exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
2 : divine for the Lord our God is holy — Psalms 99:9 (King James Version)
3 : devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity a holy temple holy prophets
4a : having a divine quality holy love
b : venerated as or as if sacred holy scripture a holy relic
5 used as an intensivethis is a holy messhe was a holy terror when he drank— Thomas Wolfe often used in combination as a mild oathholy smoke

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from holy

holily \ ˈhō-​lə-​lē How to pronounce holily (audio) \ adverb

Examples of holy in a Sentence

a holy relic worn by one of the saints the holy monk spent many hours on his knees in prayer
Recent Examples on the Web But a text like this produces its own anti-text, made of everything that’s been left out: a Jefferson Bible in negative, with a just-the-miracles Jesus hurtling wordlessly from one holy disruption to the next. James Parker, The Atlantic, "Reading Thomas Jefferson’s Bible," 10 Oct. 2020 Viewers took offense to a portion of the show in which models clad in lingerie danced to a song which sampled audio of someone reading the Hadith, the holy narrative of the Prophet Mohammad that is deeply revered by the Muslim community. NBC News, "Rihanna apologizes to Muslim community for song with Islamic verse at Fenty lingerie show," 6 Oct. 2020 Both Toller and Brown are radicals, true believers — holy fools. Washington Post, "Nearing 50, Ethan Hawke’s latest radical transformation — violent abolitionist John Brown — suits an explorer of ‘intense faith’," 1 Oct. 2020 During the ’60s the band launched a procession of holy trinity guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "10 notable debut albums that were also live albums," 23 Sep. 2020 The world learned of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death as Rosh Hashanah began — a holy time for Jews that has brought both comfort and special meaning to her death for some of her supporters. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "'May her memory be a revolution': Supporters say Rosh Hashanah brings special meaning to Ginsburg's death," 19 Sep. 2020 Retinol, to refresh your memory, is a holy grail ingredient that works especially well to counter signs of aging. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Exclusive: L'Oréal Paris Is Launching a New Retinol Serum for Under $40," 2 Oct. 2020 And for the love of all that is holy, uncouple birthday recognition from happiness. The Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax Live (October 2)," 2 Oct. 2020 Between their lateness, obnoxious gum-chewing, and constant texting, their presence is anything but holy. Nathalie Kirby, House Beautiful, "The Best Christmas Skits In SNL History," 1 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holy.' 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 holy

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

History and Etymology for holy

Middle English, from Old English hālig; akin to Old English hāl whole — more at whole

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about holy

Time Traveler for holy

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for holy

Last Updated

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Holy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holy. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for holy

How to pronounce holy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of holy

: connected to a god or a religion
: religious and morally good
informal used in phrases that show surprise or excitement
ho·​ly | \ ˈhō-lē How to pronounce holy (audio) \
holier; holiest

Kids Definition of holy

1 : set apart for the service of God or of a divine being : sacred a holy temple
2 : being a deity the holy Lord God
3 used in exclamations to indicate surprise or excitementHoly mackerel! You won!

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on holy

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!