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

Other Words from holy

holily \ ˈhō-​lə-​lē How to pronounce holy (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 Controversial saint Father Junípero Serra, seen as a colonizer by some and a holy man byothers, oversaw construction carried out by Spaniards and Kizh Mission Indians of San Gabriel. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 12 Sep. 2022 Her melismatic runs sent a female congregant into spasms of holy hysterics. Robert Marovich, WSJ, 10 Sep. 2022 Stockholm may be the capital of Sweden, but for the ABBA-obsessed, this is the musical holy land. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 24 June 2022 Some leave Middle-earth and journey west to Valinor, the holy land of the angelic Valar. Christian Holub, EW.com, 14 June 2022 During these days, the Hajj pilgrimage takes place in the sanctuary of Mecca and its nearby holy land. Manal Aman, Woman's Day, 9 June 2022 Lately, the Japanese arcade chain Round1 has installed locations across the US; but outside of that, the typical American has almost no access to the thousands of authentic arcade machines that brought glory to Japan as the holy land of gaming. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 14 Jan. 2022 Those debtors who died without leaving enough money to cover their remaining debts were denied a Christian burial, their very bodies unwelcome on holy land. Kristin Collier, Longreads, 1 Dec. 2021 His devotion to this holy land began as far back as 1950 when his first wife and 2-year-old son died in a house fire. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, 17 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for holy

Time Traveler

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

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holy ark

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Holy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holy. Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for holy


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!

More from Merriam-Webster on holy

Nglish: Translation of holy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of holy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about holy


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