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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English helthful, helþful, helþeful, equivalent to health +‎ -ful.


healthful (comparative healthfuller or more healthful, superlative healthfullest or most healthful)

  1. Beneficial to bodily health.
    • 1906, Princeton Alumni Weekly (volume 7, page 210)
      Hockey is an exciting and healthful form of exercise, well suited to college students []
  2. Conducive to moral or spiritual prosperity; salutary.
    • 1842, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Lady Anne Granard, volume 2, page 128:
      She trusted it was a sign that his mind was recovering a more healthful state, that he was not obliged to refer to his imagination, and, by giving her an ideal existence, compel himself to love her as the representative of another; surely, if he could do so long without the real Margarita, and appear cheerful and happy as he used to do when in England, he might (now that death had really taken her, poor thing!) resign her entirely, and love his wife,...
    • 1926, Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, Folio Society 2008, p. 30:
      As he had been thinking for months about leaving his wife and had not done it because it would be too cruel to deprive her of himself, her departure was a very healthful shock.


Usage notes[edit]

When a clearer distinction is intended, healthy is used to describe the state of the object, and healthful describes its ability to impart health to the recipient. Vegetables in good condition are both healthy (i.e., not rotten or diseased) and healthful (i.e., they improve the eaters' health, compared to eating junk food). By contrast, a poisonous plant can be healthy, but it is not healthful to eat of.

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