holy


holy
holy, sacred, divine, spiritual, religious, blessed are comparable chiefly as epithets applied to persons or things associated with religion or worship and therefore either regarded with special reverence or veneration or thought of as having a character apart from what is material or secular. Their choice is often a matter of idiom rather than of meaning inherent in the term.
Holy (compare HOLINESS) usually implies some quality or some attribute in the thing itself which makes it either suitable for use in worship or an object of veneration. As the strongest of these terms in its suggestion of a claim upon one's reverence, it is the only one directly applied to the Supreme Being in praise or laudation
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holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty— Rev 4:8

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It also forms a part of some titles of the godhead or of a person of the Trinity
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the Holy Spirit

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It is also applied to some persons or group of persons as a mark of highest reverence or esteem; thus, the Holy Family consists of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; the Holy Father is a frequent designation of the Pope; the Holy Synod is the governing body in some Orthodox churches. The term is comparably applied to particular things with a similar implication of reverence and esteem; thus, the central Eucharistic service of Christian churches is often called Holy Communion; Palestine is known as the Holy Land; water blessed for use in religious services is holy water; Holy Week is a week set apart for especially pious observances. In more general use holy is often the word chosen when one wishes to impute to what is so described some inherent character that dissociates it from what is mundane, material, or transitory
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so holy and so perfect is my love— Shak.

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all is holy where devotion kneels— Holmes

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some words are considered so holy they must never be spoken aloud, such as the ancient Hebrew word for God— Chase

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Sacred (see also SACRED 2) differs from holy chiefly in implying a character given to a thing by blessing, dedication, consecration to religion or worship or to the uses of religion or worship, or by its being devoted wholly to such ends or uses; the term therefore usually suggests an opposition to what is profane or exists for profane uses; thus, the vessels used in a Eucharistic service are preferably called sacred vessels; sacred as opposed to profane history is biblical history or history dealing with biblical characters or biblical events; sacred as opposed to profane literature may denote any or all of the books of the Bible or sometimes any or all writings (as the Bible, the Talmud, and the Koran) which are regarded by various religions as sources of revealed truth
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Sacred Writ

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sacred music

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in its appointed compartment in the synagogue rested the sacred Torah— Time

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In more general use sacred applies chiefly to what one treasures as a thing apart, not to be violated or contaminated by being put to vulgar or low uses or associated with vulgar or low ends
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when they saw all that was sacred to them laid waste, the Navajos lost heart. They did not surrender; they simply ceased to fight— Cather

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nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind— Emerson

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Divine in its oldest and most definite sense implies either the character of deity or an origin from or an association with deity; thus, "divine being" implies both a difference from "human being" and from "angelic being" and the possession of the nature or essence of deity
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the belief that Christ is both human and divine

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a divine right is one that comes from God

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divine service is a service having for its end the worship of God

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In its weaker senses divine may suggest a supernatural or a superhuman character or origin or, in hyperbolical use, a perfection that is above that which is found on earth
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the great mystics declare that their experiences have some kind of cosmic and divine significance— Jour, of Religion

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that mighty orb of song, the divine Milton— Wordsworth

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the strains ... of divinest music— Farrar

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by what magic was it that this divine sweet creature could be allied with that old churl!— Meredith

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Spiritual implies an opposition in character or in quality to what is bodily, material, earthy, or mundane; it may suggest incorporeal existence
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angels are conceived of as spiritual beings

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the spiritual part of man

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or independence from the merely physical or sensible
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a spiritual marriage

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the leaders of Islam saw its spiritual foundations endangered by the subtle infidelities of pure rationalism— Gibb

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or a definite relation to the soul or spirit in its aspiration toward or dependence on a higher power or in its perception of eternal values
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the responsibility of human nature, not merely on the moral side, but equally on the spiritual side— Mackenzie

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the spiritual richness, the subtle emotional qualities, which illumined the great styles of the past— Belluschi

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our Declaration of Independence was written by men whose minds reached the spiritual level of eternal principles— McGranery

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Spiritual in some chiefly technical legal and theological uses is more or less equivalent to ecclesiastical and then usually implies an opposition to temporal or civil
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a spiritual lord, or lord spiritual, is a bishop or archbishop of the Church of England who has a right to sit in the House of Lords

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the boundary between lay and spiritual authority was never defined in pre-Conquest England— Stenton

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Religious (for the application of this term to persons, see DEVOUT) implies an opposition to secular and a relation of some kind to religion; thus, religious history is the history of a religion or religions; religious literature is not the same as sacred literature but has a character that is determined by religion or by religious belief or feeling; religious music, unlike sacred music, is not necessarily suitable for use in services or prayer, for, although it includes sacred music, the term may also apply to music not composed for church use but animated by feeling or prompted by themes associated with religion
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he stated that his discourses to people were to be sometimes secular, and sometimes religious, but never dogmatic— Hardy

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except for the nominal subjects of the legends, one sees nothing religious about them; the medallions, when studied . . . turn out to be less religious than decorative— Henry Adams

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Blessed basically means consecrated
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the Blessed Sacrament

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and usually also suggests a supremely sacred character
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our Blessed Lord

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the Blessed Virgin

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In its derived senses blessed means beatified and supremely happy because enjoying the sight of God in heaven
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the blessed spirits in heaven

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In general use blessed may mean no more than enjoyable, pleasant, or satisfying
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that extra blessed quarter hour in bedSpec tors ky

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we have no green vegetables here in winter, and no one seems ever to have heard of that blessed plant, the lettuce— Cather

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Analogous words: hallowed, consecrated, dedicated (see DEVOTE): adored, worshiped, venerated, reverenced, revered (see REVERE): *devout, pious, religious
Antonyms: unholy
Contrasted words: *profane, secular: *impious, blasphemous, sacrilegious, profane

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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