whole·​some ˈhōl-səm How to pronounce wholesome (audio)
: good for one's health or well-being: such as
: promoting mental or moral health or well-being
wholesome family entertainment
"… You have both always had large private means, and have never had the wholesome discipline of work."P. G. Wodehouse
: promoting health of body
Arthritis sufferers are encouraged to take control of their own health by adhering to a wholesome diet …Barbra A. Bannon
: having or suggesting good health, behavior, and morals
his wholesome good looks
The authors paint a picture of incredibly wholesome youths who will correct the narcissism and nihilism of their Boomer parents.David Brooks
: having the simple health or vigor of normal domesticity
wholesome family life
Wholesome as the smell of homemade bread just out of the oven …Pamela Taylor
: arousing pleasant and usually sentimental feelings : endearing
This was both so wholesome and funny. It is so sweet to see how much they care about each other and how they treat one another just like family.@eveaine, on Twitter
: based on well-grounded fear : prudent
a wholesome respect for the law
: safe
… it wouldn't be wholesome for you to go down there …Mark Twain
wholesomely adverb
wholesomeness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for wholesome

healthful, wholesome, salubrious, salutary mean favorable to the health of mind or body.

healthful implies a positive contribution to a healthy condition.

a healthful diet

wholesome applies to what benefits, builds up, or sustains physically, mentally, or spiritually.

wholesome foods
the movie is wholesome family entertainment

salubrious applies chiefly to the helpful effects of climate or air.

cool and salubrious weather

salutary describes something corrective or beneficially effective, even though it may in itself be unpleasant.

a salutary warning that resulted in increased production

healthy, sound, wholesome, robust, hale, well mean enjoying or indicative of good health.

healthy implies full strength and vigor as well as freedom from signs of disease.

a healthy family

sound emphasizes the absence of disease, weakness, or malfunction.

a sound heart

wholesome implies appearance and behavior indicating soundness and balance.

a face with a wholesome glow

robust implies the opposite of all that is delicate or sickly.

a lively, robust little boy

hale applies particularly to robustness in old age.

still hale at the age of eighty

well implies merely freedom from disease or illness.

she has never been a well person

Examples of wholesome in a Sentence

a wholesome dish made with vegetables less-than-wholesome entertainment that wasn't appropriate for children a young actor known for his wholesome good looks
Recent Examples on the Web Overnight rates include three wholesome meals (including meat, fish, and vegan options) and accommodations that range from private hotel-style rooms to more budget-friendly dormitories. Julia Eskins, Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Feb. 2024 The wholesome coverage stood in condescending contrast to those barely-there Brazilian cuts that have become ubiquitous. Miami Staff, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 All three posed together for wholesome family snaps before the big screening. Hannah Sacks, Peoplemag, 29 Jan. 2024 Both Lally and Camerer suggest various individualized ways to reinforce healthy behaviors and to eventually turn a wholesome task into an unconscious habit. Jocelyn Solis-Moreira, Scientific American, 24 Jan. 2024 Leaning into his new role as pop’s main villain at the moment is more seductive than trying to make his image as wholesome as possible. Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone, 8 Feb. 2024 This modesty had a genuine, even wholesome aspect: we were never pressured to get straight A’s, or any A’s; B’s were fine—there was no need to prove our intelligence. Mary Gaitskill, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 The discourse has spawned a flurry of jokes about the wholesome brand, which started as a thermos for tough guys and has since become an accessory to influencers and hydration enthusiasts. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 1 Feb. 2024 Steve Garvey’s wholesome GOP senate campaign image belies a complex past With the first California U.S. Senate debate in the rearview mirror and California’s March 5 primary coming up, Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank leads the field. Anthony De Leon, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wholesome.' 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

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wholesome was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near wholesome

Cite this Entry

“Wholesome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wholesome. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


whole·​some ˈhōl-səm How to pronounce wholesome (audio)
: helping to keep or improve the good condition of the mind, body, or spirit
a wholesome environment
: sound in body, mind, or morals : healthy
a wholesome family movie
wholesomely adverb
wholesomeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on wholesome

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