Definition of holiday in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhäləˌdā/


1A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done: December 25 is an official public holiday
More example sentences
  • Special and often ostentatious efforts are mounted for public holidays and festivals.
  • It also lets you know when there are public holidays, so that you can either avoid them or make sure you're there to join in!
  • However, unlike the USA and Canada, Britain does not celebrate the harvest with an official public holiday.
day of observance, festival, feast day, fête, fiesta, celebration, anniversary, jubilee;
saint's day, holy day
1.1 [as modifier] Characteristic of a holiday; festive: a holiday atmosphere
More example sentences
  • The appeal has come from the local St. Patrick's Day Parade organisers who want the town to take on a festive and holiday atmosphere for the weekend.
  • There was a very relaxed holiday atmosphere in the village over the festive season.
  • I have managed to get two weeks off which will be great, although it is only 2 weeks away I am beginning to feel festive and in full holiday mode.
1.2chiefly British (often holidays) A vacation: I spent my summer holidays on a farm Fred was on holiday in Spain
More example sentences
  • She travelled to America on holiday for the second time in February 2001.
  • Our parents are good friends and as children we went on camping trips and spent holidays together.
  • Danny was a sixteen-year-old boy who she'd met on holiday in Spain last summer.
vacation, break, rest, respite, recess;
time off, time out, leave, furlough, sabbatical, spring break;
trip, tour, journey, voyage
informal getaway, staycation
formal sojourn


[no object] chiefly British
Spend a holiday in a specified place: he is holidaying in Italy
More example sentences
  • He flew with friends to Thailand on Wednesday, December 22 to spend three weeks holidaying on the coast.
  • Fears were growing today for three York tourists who were holidaying in Thailand when the Asian earthquake struck.
  • It is very much a romantic getaway with more couples holidaying there than families or single people.


Old English hāligdæg 'holy day'.

  • high from Old English:

    High is one of those small words that plays a part in a large number of expressions. In the calendar of the Christian Church there used to be two sorts of special day: a high day and a holiday. Holiday (Old English) was originally holy day and was a day set apart for religious observance. A high day was a much more important religious festival commemorating a particular sacred person or event. These together give us high days and holidays. Being high on drugs is associated with the 1960s, but the expression goes back at least to the 1930s. Alcohol can also be classed as a drug, and you can read of a man being ‘high with wine’ as early as 1627.

    The first records of high, wide, and handsome, ‘expansive and impressive’, are from US newspapers in the 1880s. In 1932 a book on Yankee Slang comments that it is a common shout at rodeos: ‘Ride him, Cowboy, high, wide, and handsome.’ The expression to be for the high jump might conjure up athletics, but behind it lies a much grimmer scene. It dates from the early 20th century, when it was a slang term used by soldiers to mean ‘to be put on trial before your commanding officer’. The image is actually of a person being executed by hanging, with the jump being the effect of the gallows trapdoor being suddenly opened beneath their feet. See also hog

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hol·i·day

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