Word of the Week: Hallow

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hallow is a verb which means “to make holy or set apart for holy use” or “to respect greatly”.

The origins of the word stem from the Old English words “hālgian” (v.) and “hālga” (n.) which translates to “hallow“. Since the word originated in Old English, it’s understandable why it would have the same meaning in modern English. Also, Old English is a branch language of German, so the word also comes from the German (and Dutch) word “heiligen” which also means “hallow“.

Other forms of the word are hallows (plural form of the noun) and hallowed (adjective form and/or past tense).

The word hallow is also a noun meaning “saint“. The holiday Halloween technically means “All Hallow Even (All Saints’ Eve)” (Merriam-Webster). However, in modern day Halloween is defined, by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as “October 31 observed especially with dressing up in disguise, trick-or-treating, and displaying jack-o’-lanterns during the evening“.

Other “hallowed” holidays around the end of October include Reformation Day, a day of remembrance of the Reformation on October 31st; Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights on October 27th; and Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday in celebration and remembrance of the dead beginning October 31st and ending November 2nd.

The word “hallow” is oftentimes confused with the word “hollow”; the difference being that “hallow” refers to making something holy or saint and “hollow” is something having an empty space/cavity.

A popular novel with the word “hallow” that is also considered a “Halloween-themed” read is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a young adult fantasy series that follows the journey of a young wizard named Harry Potter.


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