holy writ


often capitalized H&W
: a writing or utterance having unquestionable authority
its financial precepts were not necessarily Holy WritHerbert Stein

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Holy Writ has been used in English as a synonym for Bible for more than a thousand years. The term traces to the Venerable Bede, an 8th-century Anglo-Saxon scholar, historian, and theologian who wrote a history of England in which he dated events from the birth of Christ. Bede's history was translated from Latin to English around the year 900, and it is in that translated text that we find the earliest evidence for holy writ. William Shakespeare used holy writ in Othello: "Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ." And Alexander Pope used it in his Wife of Bath: "And close the sermon, as beseem'd his wit, with some grave sentence out of holy writ."

Examples of holy writ in a Sentence

quotes extensively from Holy Writ in his sermons
Recent Examples on the Web As the word implies, for some fans, canon is no less than holy writ. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 27 Mar. 2024 Putting aside holy writ, Greek and Roman classical writers were going to be the ones with a direct line to wisdom and truth. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 22 Mar. 2024 Neither did another aspect to Utah’s defeat — and an additional cardinal sin in Whittingham’s holy writ of football: giving up huge chunks of yardage by way of an inability to stop the run. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Oct. 2022 While ostensibly about historical issues, the Central Committee’s resolution — practically holy writ for officials — will shape China’s politics and society for decades to come. New York Times, 7 Nov. 2021 Pundits have latched onto these voter surveys, treating them as holy writ. Jeff Scrima, WSJ, 12 Oct. 2020 Taking the stage after Trump, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal tore into his GOP primary rival’s attempt to use holy writ as a shibboleth. Peter Manseau, The New Republic, 18 Sep. 2020

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

Word History

First Known Use

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

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


Dictionary Entries Near holy writ

Cite this Entry

“Holy writ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holy%20writ. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

Holy Writ

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