Is the English adjective "whole" genealogically related in any way to the adjective "holos", which means "whole" in Koine (and possibly other varieties of Greek; I'm not sure), and has a similar pronunciation? If so, how are they related?

  • @z7sg, Why did you delete your post? I couldn't even upvote it!
    – Thursagen
    Jun 4 '11 at 1:36
  • @Third Idiot I leapt to the completely opposite and wrong conclusion!
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 4 '11 at 1:40
  • Ah, well, you've corrected it, and its equally great -- in the opposite direction.
    – Thursagen
    Jun 4 '11 at 1:48

They sound very similar but are actually unrelated.

The Proto-Indo-European root of whole is *koilas. From etymonline:

whole (adj.)

O.E. hal "entire, unhurt, healthy," from P.Gmc. *khailaz "undamaged" (cf. O.S. hel, O.N. heill, O.Fris. hal, M.Du. hiel, Du. heel, O.H.G., Ger. heil "salvation, welfare"), from PIE *koilas (cf. O.S.C. celu "whole, complete;" see health). The spelling with wh- developed early 15c.

Greek holos is related to English safe and several other words, including Catholic.

safe (adj.)

late 13c., "uninjured, unharmed," from O.Fr. sauf, from L. salvus "uninjured, healthy, safe," related to salus "good health," saluber "healthful," all from PIE *solwos from base *sol- "whole" (cf. L. solidus "solid," Skt. sarvah "uninjured, intact, whole," Avestan haurva- "uninjured, intact," O.Pers. haruva-, Gk. holos "whole"). Meaning "not exposed to danger" is attested from late 14c.; of actions, etc., "free from risk," first recorded 1580s. Safe-conduct (late 13c.) is from O.Fr. sauf-conduit (13c.).

  • +1 for the great answer. I wish I could also give you another +1 for the link to etymonline.com ! Jun 4 '11 at 1:29
  • Um, not great I messed um completely. Fixed now. :) Etymonline is the greatest...
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 4 '11 at 1:39
  • I'd like to link my answer in this question, since it's related: Meaning of "hail to the king".
    – Alenanno
    Jun 4 '11 at 10:44

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.