holy

adjective

ho·​ly ˈhō-lē How to pronounce holy (audio)
holier; holiest
1
: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
2
: divine
for the Lord our God is holyPsalms 99:9 (King James Version)
3
: devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity
a holy temple
holy prophets
4
a
: having a divine quality
holy love
b
: venerated as or as if sacred
holy scripture
a holy relic
5
used as an intensive
this is a holy mess
he was a holy terror when he drankThomas Wolfe
often used in combination as a mild oath
holy smoke
holily 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 The holy month of fasting and reconnection with spirituality for Muslims concludes next week with Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday. Detroit Free Press, 5 Apr. 2024 Negotiators had been working toward a temporary cease-fire that would take effect during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in exchange for the release of hostages. Daniel Estrin, NPR, 4 Apr. 2024 When a Jewish temple in the San Fernando Valley opened its doors to Muslims for the holy month of Ramadan, its rabbis hoped to offer a model of interfaith outreach. Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2024 The meeting to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan comes amid anger in the community over the Biden administration's approach to the war and the U.S. support for Israel. NBC News, 4 Apr. 2024 But the holy month’s tradition of charity is sustained, and sustaining. Ghada Abdulfattah, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Apr. 2024 The White House initially invited Arab-American leaders to a larger iftar dinner, the traditional breaking of the fast meal during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2024 Often referred to as the holy grail of climate solutions clean energy, fusion has the potential to provide limitless energy without planet-warming carbon pollution. Laura Paddison, CNN, 1 Apr. 2024 After fasting from sunrise to sunset for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, their nights are now spent clashing with protesters. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'holy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near holy

Cite this Entry

“Holy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holy. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

holy

adjective
ho·​ly ˈhō-lē How to pronounce holy (audio)
holier; holiest
1
: worthy of complete devotion and trust
2
: divine
3
: set apart to the service of God or a god : sacred
4
: respected as sacred
5
: complete, utter
he is a holy terror
used in combination as a mild oath
holy cow

More from Merriam-Webster on holy

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