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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English high, heigh, heih, from Old English hēah ‎(high, tall, lofty, high-class, exalted, sublime, illustrious, important, proud, haughty, deep, right), from Proto-Germanic *hauhaz ‎(high), from Proto-Indo-European *kewk- ‎(to bend, curve, arch, vault), a suffixed form of *kew-. Cognate with Scots heich ‎(high), Saterland Frisian hooch ‎(high), West Frisian heech ‎(high), Dutch hoog ‎(high), Low German hog ‎(high), German hoch ‎(high), Swedish hög ‎(high), Icelandic hár ‎(high), Lithuanian kaukas ‎(bump, boil, sore), Russian ку́ча ‎(kúča, pile, heap, stack, lump).

Alternative forms[edit]

  • hi (informal)


high ‎(comparative higher, superlative highest)

  1. Elevated in position or status; above many things.
    The balloon rose high in the sky.
    • Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
      The Barnacles were a very high family, and a very large family. They were dispersed all over the public offices, and held all sorts of public places.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 4, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I told him about everything I could think of; and what I couldn't think of he did. He asked about six questions during my yarn, but every question had a point to it. At the end he bowed and thanked me once more. As a thanker he was main-truck high; I never see anybody so polite.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
      She was like a Beardsley Salome, he had said. And indeed she had the narrow eyes and the high cheekbone of that creature, and as nearly the sinuosity as is compatible with human symmetry. His wooing had been brief but incisive.
  2. Tall, lofty, at a great distance above the ground (at high altitude).
    • 2013 June 7, David Simpson, “Fantasy of navigation”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 36:
      Like most human activities, ballooning has sponsored heroes and hucksters and a good deal in between. For every dedicated scientist patiently recording atmospheric pressure and wind speed while shivering at high altitudes, there is a carnival barker with a bevy of pretty girls willing to dangle from a basket or parachute down to earth.
  3. Having a specified elevation.
    three feet high
    three Mount Everests high
  4. (figuratively) Noble, especially of motives, intentions, etc.
  5. (slang) Under the psychological effects of a mood-affecting drug, especially marijuana, or (less common) alcohol.
  6. Of a quantity or value, great or large.
    My bank charges me a high interest rate.
    • 2013 July-August, Fenella Saunders, “Tiny Lenses See the Big Picture”, in American Scientist:
      The single-imaging optic of the mammalian eye offers some distinct visual advantages. Such lenses can take in photons from a wide range of angles, increasing light sensitivity. They also have high spatial resolution, resolving incoming images in minute detail.
  7. (poker) Said of the card of highest rank in a straight, flush or straight flush.
    I have KT742 of the same suit. In other words, a K-high flush.
    9-high straight = 98765 unsuited
    Royal Flush = AKQJT suited = A-high straight flush
  8. (acoustics) Of greater frequency, i.e. with more rapid wave oscillations.
    The note was too high for her to sing.
  9. (of a language, geographic) Being spoken in an area more mountainous than those where other variants of the language are spoken.
  10. (of a language, figuratively) Being the variant, literary or otherwise, with the greatest prestige, out of a group of related lects.
  11. (of a body of water) With tall waves.
  12. (of meat, especially venison) Strong-scented; slightly tainted/spoiled; beginning to decompose.
    Epicures do not cook game before it is high.
    The tailor liked his meat high.
  13. Of great strength, force, importance, etc.; mighty; powerful; sometimes, triumphant; victorious; majestic, etc.
    a high wind; high passions
    • Bible, Psalms lxxxix. 13
      Strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.
    • Dryden
      Can heavenly minds such high resentment show?
    • Thackeray
      with rather a high manner
  14. Arrogant; lofty; boastful; proud.
    • Bible, Proverbs xxi. 4
      An high look and a proud heart [] is sin.
    • Clarendon
      His forces, after all the high discourses, amounted really but to eighteen hundred foot.
  15. Very abstract; difficult to comprehend or surmount.
    • Shakespeare
      to hear and answer such high things
    • Wordsworth
      Plain living and high thinking are no more.
  16. (phonetics) Made with a high position of some part of the tongue in relation to the palate.
  17. Possessing a characteristic quality in a supreme or superior degree.
    high (i.e. intense) heat; high (i.e. full or quite) noon; high (i.e. rich or spicy) seasoning; high (i.e. complete) pleasure; high (i.e. deep or vivid) colour; high (i.e. extensive, thorough) scholarship
    • Spenser
      High time it is this war now ended were.
    • Baker
      High sauces and spices are fetched from the Indies.


Derived terms[edit]

Look at pages starting with high.

Related terms[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
See also[edit]


high ‎(comparative higher, superlative highest)

  1. In or to an elevated position.
    How high above land did you fly?
  2. In or at a great value.
    Costs have grown higher this year again.
  3. In a pitch of great frequency.
    I certainly can't sing that high.
Usage notes[edit]
  • The adverb high and the adverb highly shouldn't be confused.
    He hung the picture high on the wall.
    As a politician, he isn't esteemed too highly.


high ‎(plural highs)

  1. A period of euphoria, from excitement or from an intake of drugs.
    • 2013, Daniel Taylor, Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic climbs highest to sink Benfica (in The Guardian, 15 May 2013)[2]
      They will have to reflect on a seventh successive defeat in a European final while Chelsea try to make sense of an eccentric season rife with controversy and bad feeling but once again one finishing on an exhilarating high.
    That pill gave me a high for a few hours, before I had a comedown.
  2. A drug that gives such a high.
    • 2013 August 10, “A new prescription”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      No sooner has a [synthetic] drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one. These “legal highs” are sold for the few months it takes the authorities to identify and ban them, and then the cycle begins again.
  3. (informal) A large area of elevated atmospheric pressure; an anticyclone.
  4. The maximum atmospheric temperature recorded at a particular location, especially during one 24-hour period.
  5. An elevated place; a superior region; a height; the sky; heaven.
  6. (card games) The highest card dealt or drawn.
See also[edit]


high ‎(third-person singular simple present highs, present participle highing, simple past and past participle highed)

  1. (obsolete) To rise.
    The sun higheth.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English hiȝe, huȝe, huiȝe, huie, hige, from Old English hyġe ‎(thought, mind, heart, disposition, intention, courage, pride), from Proto-Germanic *hugiz ‎(mind, sense), of unknown origin. Cognate with North Frisian huwggje ‎(mind, sense), Middle Low German höge, hoge ‎(thought, meaning, mood, happiness), Middle High German hüge, huge, hoge ‎(mind, spirit, memory), Danish hu ‎(mind), Swedish håg ‎(mind, inclination), Icelandic hugur ‎(mind). Related to Hugh.


high ‎(plural highs)

  1. (obsolete) Thought; intention; determination; purpose.

Etymology 3[edit]

See hie.


high ‎(third-person singular simple present highs, present participle highing, simple past and past participle highed)

  1. To hie; to hasten.
    • Holland
      Men must high them apace, and make haste.


Most common English words before 1923: herself · year · dear · #296: high · above · received · read