Lo and Behold or Low and Behold

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The interjection lo is often confused with the idiom lo and behold. Both are archaic words that are common in writings of long ago. 

Are these two terms the same? Or do they have different connotations? Learn the difference between lo and lo and behold and how to use them correctly.

Is it Lo and Behold or Low and Behold?

Lo is an older way of saying look. So, look, and behold or look and see. Low and behold is incorrect and not acceptable in any context. 

How to Use Lo

Lo is an archaic interjection that one uses to call attention or show surprise and wonder–for example:

  • Lo, a school of fish appeared.
  • Lo, these many years.
  • And lo! How is someone like him in the same room as someone like me?

How to Use Lo and Behold

Lo and behold is an idiom that one uses to show wonder or surprise. The phrase means “look and see!” so you’ll hear or read it when something surprising happens–for example:

  • Lo and behold, a stack of cash was waiting to be bagged.
  • I went into the coffee shop, and, lo and behold, Trina was also there.

The idiom has an impression of being dramatic or behind the times. Nowadays, people use it to express sarcasm in unsurprising situations.

  • I asked him to arrive at 7 PM, then, lo and behold, Punctual Patrick showed up at 6:30 PM.

What is the Origin of Lo and Behold?

Lo and behold were used separately before lo and behold became popular in the 18th century. Behold was as common as observe, look at, or see. But behold is different from beholden since beholden is an adjective that means to owe something to someone.

Experts also believe that lo is akin to the O!, which has been used since the first Millenium. It appears in ancient writings like the Bible and Beowulf. 

  • “And Abraham said, Behold, to me thou has given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.” (Genesis 15:3)

Is There a Comma After Lo and Behold?

There may be a comma after lo and behold to separate it from the rest of the sentence. But you may also end it with a period since it can stand alone as a sentence.

Remember that the most fundamental part of a sentence is the verb. “Stop!” is already a sentence since the invisible subject is “you,” and the verb is “stop.”

Lo and Behold Synonym

The closest synonym of lo and behold is look and see. Below is a list of related interjections that show shock or surprise. However, they are not necessarily used to present a turn of events or a new scene.

  • Wow.
  • Good/Oh Lord.
  • Oh.
  • Lovely.
  • Say.
  • Well, well.
  • Hey.
  • Hooray.
  • Yipee.
  • Excellent.
  • Hallelujah.
  • Thank God/goodness/heaven(s).

How to Use the Phrase Lo and Behold in a Sentence

Now, lo and behold, there seems to be a slight issue with those first watches to hit the streets: as happy new owners began flexing on social media, some noticed that the cases were leaving stains on their wrists. (Gear Patrol)

Well, the President’s budget just came out — and lo and behold, it includes a document called Our Government’s Goals, that lists performance goals by agency. (FCW)

Lo and behold, inflation is running at 7.9%, supply chains are tight, and many store shelves are empty. (Wall Street Journal)

Learn More About Idioms!

Lo and lo and behold are now difficult to use without sounding ironic or sarcastic. But it’s still a good idea to use the idiom in a new tone. It will add color to your writing to sound more proficient in English.

To summarize, lo is an interjection that means to call attention. Lo and behold is an idiom that literally means look and see.