Have you ever heard the words “Hollow” and “Hallow” and asked yourself if they are variations of the same thing?
We want to know if both “Hallow” and “Hollow” are correct, or if one of them should be avoided. We also want to know what those words mean.
“Hollow” and “Hallow” aren’t synonyms, but are both acceptable valid words. “Hollow” is to be empty inside, both literally and figuratively. “Hallow” is to make something sacred or very important, and is used a lot in religious conversations. Despite being fairly similar they aren’t synonyms and cannot interchange.
Take a look at some examples:
- The tree was hollow inside and had to be cut off.
- The tree was hallow inside and had to be cut off. (incorrect)
- Carl considered the place he grew up in to be hallow.
- Carl considered the place he grew up in to be hollow. (incorrect)
The examples show that “Hollow” and “Hallow” have different meanings. They aren’t synonyms and cannot interchange. You must keep that in mind when choosing which word to use.
“Hollow” is a word we use to describe things that have a hole or are empty inside. Figuratively speaking, “Hollow” is used to describe situations or interactions that aren’t true or sincere.
The Cambridge Dictionary includes a very specific definition of someone’s appearance when it’s considered “Hollow”: “if you have hollow cheek or eyes, your cheeks curve in or your eyes look deep in your head because you’re old, tired, or ill”.
Let’s take a look at some good examples:
- There was a hollow thudding sound.
- Jonathan’s words made her feel hollow.
- The hollow tree was large enough to fit both of them.
- He couldn’t comprehend how a person could be so hollow, so cruel.
- May creatures like birds, bugs, and reptiles made her home in the hollow trees around the forest.
- I often remember my father’s hollow eyes, when he was older.
“Hollow” is a word that can be used to describe many different things. Keep that in mind, when choosing to use this word.
“Hallow” is an archaic word that means to give something great importance or respect, often because it’s very old. Although it isn’t a word we commonly use, “Hallow” is correct and acceptable.
In The Cambridge Dictionary, we find the following definition for “Hallow”: “to make something holy”. It gives the definition we provided above another layer of importance. “Hallow” is frequently used in religious connotations.
Take a look at the examples:
- Paul showed that he didn’t hallow his marriage as a sacred commitment to Paula.
- When the church is built, the priest will hallow it with a prayer.
- In the past, warriors would ask bishops to hallow their swords.
- The space under the wood blank was hallow. (incorrect)
- The space under the wood blank was hollow.
- The inside of the sculpture was hallow. (incorrect)
- The inside of the sculpture was hollow.
Sentences 1 to 3 show the word “Hallow” being used with the meaning of making something important or sacred. This is the correct use of the word.
Sentences 4 and 6 show the word being incorrectly used, as a synonym for “Hollow”. Sentences 5 and 6 present a corrected version of those sentences.
Which one of those forms is used more often, “Hollow” or “Hallow”? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.
“Hollow” is the most frequently used. We expected it’d be the case because the use of “Hallow” is strict and it doesn’t apply to so many sentences. “Hollow” on the other hand, can be used to describe many things – it’s no surprise it’d appear more often.
“Hallow” appears close to the bottom of the graph, but is still a correct word you can use to describe making something sacred.
“Hollow” is to be empty inside. I can refer to an object, a person, or a situation, for example. “Hallow” is used a lot in religious contexts and refers to making something sacred. “Hollow” and “Hallow” aren’t synonyms, and can’t interchange, but both are acceptable to use.