2

Why is holism named after some kind of nothing (a hole) and not after the whole, i.e. wholism?

That's the catchy way to ask the question. The serious way is: Does the "hole" have to do with the "whole" etymologically?

(Pun: A howl sounds best in a hole.)

  • 1
    It's an interesting question, but folks may be reacting negatively to the jokes obscuring the root of the question, or they may feel that it's too basic a question since it's easy to look up in an etymological dictionary. – Bradd Szonye Nov 2 '13 at 0:00
  • I usually use the Online Etymology Dictionary, linked in my answer below. – Bradd Szonye Nov 2 '13 at 0:12
4

Holism is unrelated to hole. From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

1926, apparently by South African Gen. J.C. Smuts (1870-1950) in his book “Holism and Evolution” which treats of evolution as a process of unification of separate parts; from Greek holos “whole” (see safe (adj.)) + -ism.

Thus, holism is spelled like that because it's from a Greek word meaning “whole” that is spelled like hole. Oddly enough, Greek holos is etymologically unrelated to either English word.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.