adj. ho·li·er, ho·li·est
1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred.
2. Regarded with veneration or specified for a religious purpose: a holy book; a holy place.
3. Living or undertaken with highly moral or spiritual purpose; saintly: a holy person; a holy way of life.
4. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence: The pursuit of peace is our holiest quest.
5. Informal Used as an intensive: raised holy hell over the mischief their children did.
[Middle English holi, from Old English hālig; see kailo- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.