- specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated: holy ground.
- dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion: a holy man.
- saintly; godly; pious; devout: a holy life.
- having a spiritually pure quality: a holy love.
- entitled to worship or veneration as or as if sacred: a holy relic.
- religious: holy rites.
- inspiring fear, awe, or grave distress: The director, when angry, is a holy terror.
- a place of worship; sacred place; sanctuary.
Origin of holy
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for holy
The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and is marked by nine stations of the cross.Oops! Jesus’ Last Steps Are in the Wrong Place
January 6, 2015
Because holy hell was that bland, unfunny, uncomfortable, and just plain confusing.The Biggest Bombs of 2014: ‘Sex Tape,’ Mariah Carey’s Vocals, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and More
December 19, 2014
And he was indicted in Israel last week on charges he plotted to blow up sites holy to Islam.
Israelis often are amused and appalled by the crazies attracted to the Holy Land, and not only for religious reasons.
We should remember that holy men have always possessed good noses for wine.Beer Countries vs. Wine Countries
December 7, 2014
In this holy atmosphere we paused for a moment in silent reverence.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
But the Holy Laws no longer needed the safe shelter of a royal shrine.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
He was, to the eyes of men, studious and holy as an anchorite.
Or I might compare them to cherubs, haunting that holy place.Sunday at Home (From "Twice Told Tales")
Give me the Holy Water, Nora, there's a small sup still on the dresser.Riders to the Sea
J. M. Synge
- of, relating to, or associated with God or a deity; sacred
- endowed or invested with extreme purity or sublimity
- devout, godly, or virtuous
- holier-than-thou offensively sanctimonious or self-righteousa holier-than-thou attitude
- holy terror
- a difficult or frightening person
- Irish informala person who is an active gambler, womanizer, etc
- a sacred place
- the holy (functioning as plural)persons or things invested with holiness
Word Origin and History for holy
Old English halig "holy, consecrated, sacred, godly," from Proto-Germanic *hailaga- (cf. Old Norse heilagr, Old Frisian helich "holy," Old Saxon helag, Middle Dutch helich, Old High German heilag, German heilig, Gothic hailags "holy"). Adopted at conversion for Latin sanctus.
Primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not possible to determine, but probably it was "that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated," and connected with Old English hal (see health) and Old High German heil "health, happiness, good luck" (source of the German salutation Heil). Holy water was in Old English. Holy has been used as an intensifying word from 1837; used in expletives since 1880s (e.g. holy smoke, 1883, holy mackerel, 1876, holy cow, 1914, holy moly etc.), most of them euphemisms for holy Christ or holy Moses.