November 19, 2010

Word of the Day for Friday, November 19, 2010 from Dictionary.com

hallow \HAL-oh\, verb:

1. To make holy; sanctify; consecrate.

1. Hallo.

1. To shout or chase with cries of “hallo!”

No moral quality, no association of purity, truth, modesty, self-denial, or family love, comes in to hallow the atmosphere about them, and create a sphere of loveliness which brightens as mere physical beauty fades.
— Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Household Papers and Stories

Its bare walls and little single beds mocked him, mocked him, the sterile and featureless look to it, the lack of a presence to warm it, a purpose to hallow it.
— Colleen McCullough,
The Thorn Birds

Hallow ultimately relates to the Old Norse helga, “health.”

Hallow is known in the US now mostly for Halloween, with is short for All Hallows eve (compare Christman eve), the evening before All Hallows Day, or All Saints Day as it is known elsewhere.

As for Helga, when you say hello, are you really saying, “Health”? This is literally true of gesundheit. Some data from Online Etymology Dictionary–


1883, alteration of hallo, itself an alteration of holla, hollo, a shout to attract attention, first recorded 1580s. Perhaps from holla! “stop, cease.” OED cites O.H.G. hala, hola, emphatic imperative of halon, holon “to fetch,” “used esp. in hailing a ferryman.” Popularity as a greeting coincides with use of the telephone, where it won out over Alexander Graham Bell’s suggestion, ahoy. Central telephone exchange operators were known as hello-girls (1889).

Hello, formerly an Americanism, is now nearly as common as hullo in Britain (Say who you are; do not just say ‘hello’ is the warning given in our telephone directories) and the Englishman cannot be expected to give up the right to say hello if he likes it better than his native hullo. [H.W. Fowler, “A Dictionary of Modern English Usage,” 1926]


shout to call attention, 1781, earlier hollo, holla (see hello).


O.E. halgian “to make holy, to honor as holy,” related to halig “holy,” from P.Gmc. *khailig (cf. O.S. helagon, M.Du. heligen, O.N. helga; see health). Used in Christian translations to render L. sanctificare. Related: Hallowed.


1914, from Ger., lit. “health!” Also in toast auf ihre Gesundheit “to your health” (see sound (adj.)). Lith. aciu, echoic of the sound of a sneeze, has come to mean “good luck, God bless you.”

Aciu would be rendered into English as achoo!

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