Holly vs holy

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Holly and holy are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, and are often confused. We will examine the definitions of holly and holy, where the two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Holly is a certain shrub that is evergreen, has prickly green leaves and red berries. Holly is a popular landscaping bush, and its boughs are often used for decorations during the Christmas and winter season. The prickly green leaves are said to represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, and the berries the blood he shed. Pagans used holly to ward off evil spirits during the dark of winter. The word holly is derived from the Old English words holegn and holen. The plural form of holly is hollies.

Holy describes something that is sacred, something that is associated with a deity, something saintly, something deserving reverence and worship. The word holy is derived from the Old English word halig, which means sacred or Godly. Holy is an adjective.


Sprigs of holly were the preferred Christmas decorations alongside Christmas trees adorned with lights and tinsel in many Irish homes before the globalised trade in Christmas decorations took off. (The Irish Times)

If you are interested in growing hollies, now is a good time to talk to your favorite nursery to see if they are ordering any for their spring sales. (The Spokesman-Review)

The Church becomes ‘Holy’ because enough people around the world believe it to be built on the spot where Jesus was buried and later ascended to the heavens — whether it was really built upon the tomb of Jesus Christ or not is more of an academic question. (The Hindu)

Well, maybe you haven’t heard exactly that. But there’s something about holiness and hairiness that has had the saints singing the praises of facial follicles throughout the centuries. (The Catholic News Agency)