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 intensive this is a holy messhe was a holy terror when he drank— Thomas Wolfe often used in combination as a mild oath holy smoke

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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

A parchment scroll of the first five books of the Bible handwritten in Hebrew, the Torah is Judaism’s holiest book, according to Rabbi David Begoun, who founded the organization along with his wife, Ali Begoun. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "L'Chaim Center in Deerfield to celebrate new Torah," 21 Aug. 2017 Recitation has a rhythm as holy as gospel, the rich boom of Teacher Lee calling and the chorus of students in answer. Longreads, "And How Much of These Hills Is Gold," 3 Aug. 2017 But even more worrying for Naseer is the lack of a quality Islamic seminary to school his son in Islam’s holy book. Washington Post, "Officials: Young Afghans trafficked to study under Taliban," 31 July 2017 Israeli authorities quickly announced that one of them had attacked the embassy guard, a description that seemed to hint at premeditated violence, especially given the violence that had been building over a holy site in nearby Jerusalem for weeks. Alice Su, The Atlantic, "The Anger in Jordan's Streets," 28 July 2017 Two Israeli policemen were shot and killed near a holy site in Jerusalem. Ella Ceron, Teen Vogue, "Trump's Private Lawyer Threatened Someone in an Email," 14 July 2017 For locations, visit farmerboys.com Holy Matcha owner Geraldine Ridaura has debuted a new soft-serve creation. Carolina Gusman, sandiegouniontribune.com, "National Ice Cream Month: Every day's a sundae in July," 5 July 2017 There is a spirit of hate permeating the air — hate toward people who look different from you, who worship in a different holy house from yours. Bea L. Hines, miamiherald, "July Fourth reminds us that it’s time to be more civil to each other," 3 July 2017 In his report, Long had a printout of a passage from an Islamic holy book that referenced seeking forgiveness and a prayer passage that indicates repeating the prayer and dying on the same day guarantees the person will go to paradise. Glenn E. Rice, kansascity.com, "New video shows Kansas Citian Gavin Long’s ambush and slaying of Baton Rouge officers," 1 July 2017

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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near holy





holy ark

holy basil

holy bread

Statistics for holy

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Time Traveler for holy

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

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More Definitions for holy



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 excitement Holy mackerel! You won!

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More from Merriam-Webster on holy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with holy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for holy

Spanish Central: Translation of holy

Nglish: Translation of holy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of holy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about holy

Comments on holy

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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