whole·​some ˈhōl-səm How to pronounce wholesome (audio)
: promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit
: promoting health of body
: sound in body, mind, or morals
: having the simple health or vigor of normal domesticity
: 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

Example Sentences

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 Even its name could sound creepy or wholesome depending on your mood. Wired, 8 Aug. 2022 That resulted in the most wholesome and genuine content. Moises Mendez Ii, Time, 1 Nov. 2022 Everyone had such incredible reasons for being here, so wholesome and good. People Staff, Peoplemag, 18 Oct. 2022 Overall, a very sweet and wholesome end to a difficult date. Emlyn Travis, EW.com, 12 Oct. 2022 On Tuesday, Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted his congratulations to his cousin in a short but incredibly wholesome tweet. Mary Clarke, USA TODAY, 4 May 2022 Despite his business being shuttered — which was also without power until Friday morning — and despite the blistering heat and humidity, droves of people have continued to show each day to prepare wholesome, and often quite intricate dishes. Krista Johnson, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2021 Both testers and experts appreciated that the food was wholesome, plant-based and satisfying. Good Housekeeping, 15 Sep. 2022 Modern bandwidths swarm with stimuli; in this context, culture that aspires to deflect attention can scan as wholesome, benevolent, even virtuous. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 14 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wholesome.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wholesome was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near wholesome

Cite this Entry

“Wholesome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wholesome. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

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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