A hold vs ahold

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A hold and ahold are two expressions that are often confused. We will examine the definitions of the terms a hold and ahold, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A hold is a noun that means the act of grabbing on to something or a protuberance or divot of some sort that acts as a place where one may achieve a handhold while climbing something. A hold may also mean an uncanny or overwhelming power that something or someone has over a person, a fortress, or the place where cargo is stored below a ship’s deck. A hold may be a stop on the progression of a process. Finally, a hold may be a particular way to grab an opponent in the art of wrestling. The word hold is derived from the Old English word geheald, which means custody or watch.

Ahold is most often used in the phrase get ahold of, meaning to grab someone or something in a literal or figurative sense. One may get ahold of someone’s arm, get ahold of some information, or the phrase get ahold of may be used to mean to contact someone by phone, email, etc. Related phrases are gets ahold of, got ahold of, getting ahold of. Though the word ahold has been in use since the 1500s, the phrase get ahold of came into use in the United States sometime in the mid-1800s as a regionalism. The word ahold is now listed in the Oxford English Dictionary as an adverb.


The Senate has confirmed Lt. Gen. David Berger to serve as the next commandant of the Marine Corps following a hold from Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). (The USNI News)

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that China has put a hold on new soybean purchases, although it’s not canceling previous purchases. (Omaha World-Herald)

As the two broke a hold at the edge of the circle, Walker was ruled to have pushed Steele out of bounds, with the referee granting Steele a point.  (The Hickory Daily Record)

He had said he wanted to get ahold of a suicide vest because: “When it blows up, those balls explode and the metal goes everywhere.  (The New York Daily News)

I don’t know how he got ahold of any money, but one day he gave me a $20 bill to help with my gas money traveling to and from the hospital. (The Barrow News Journal)