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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-West Germanic *hauh (high), 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 hoog (high), German hoch (high), Swedish hög (high), Norwegian høy (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, extending above a base or average level:
    1. Very elevated; extending or being far above a base; tall; lofty.
      The balloon rose high in the sky.   The wall was high.   a high mountain
      • 1930, Philip Sidney Smith, Mineral Industry of Alaska in 1928 and Administration Report:
        The Chitistone River Valley offers a more direct route for travel from McCarthy to the White River and the Shushana gold placers than Skolai Creek, but it involves a high climb over the so-called “goat trail” to avoid the canyon above Chitistone[.]
      • 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.
    2. Relatively elevated; rising or raised above the average or normal level from which elevation is measured.
      • 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.
      • 1919, Martha Van Rensselaer, Flora Rose, Helen Canon, A Manual of Home-Making, page 376:
        A nightgown with a high neck and long sleeves may have the fullness set into a yoke.
    3. (baseball, of a ball) Above the batter's shoulders.
      the pitch (or: the ball) was high
    4. Pertaining to (or, especially of a language: spoken in) in an area which is at a greater elevation, for example more mountainous, than other regions.
  2. Having a specified elevation or height; tall.
    three feet high   three Mount Everests high
    • 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.
  3. Elevated in status, esteem, or prestige, or in importance or development; exalted in rank, station, or character.
    The oldest of the elves' royal family still conversed in High Elvish.
    • 1855-57, 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.
    1. Most exalted; foremost.
      the high priest, the high officials of the court, the high altar
    2. Of great importance and consequence: grave (if negative) or solemn (if positive).
      high crimes, the high festival of the sun
    3. Consummate; advanced (e.g. in development) to the utmost extent or culmination, or possessing a quality in its supreme degree, at its zenith.
      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; high tide; high [tourism] season; the High Middle Ages
    4. Advanced in complexity (and hence potentially abstract and/or difficult to comprehend).
  4. (in several set phrases) Remote in distance or time.
    high latitude, high antiquity
    • 2007, Sheila Finch, Shaper's Legacy →ISBN, page 122
      Not a one of them was old enough to know what the high past of Liani separatism had really been like.
  5. (in several set phrases) Very traditionalist and conservative, especially in favoring older ways of doing things; see e.g. high church, High Tory.
    • 1858, Joseph Howe, Speeches and Public Letters, page 346:
      The letter of a "Pioneer" was sent to the Chronicle office by a very respectable man, of a high conservative family, but whose interests have been injuriously affected by the constant fluctuations in the commercial policy of England.
    • 1861 (printed 2003), Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Regnery Publishing (→ISBN)
      His family was ardently royalist, and might be compared to a high Tory family on this side the water; with some change of conditions, their prejudices and disposition of the mind were the same.
    • 2005, Jesse D. Geller, John C. Norcross, David E. Orlinsky, The Psychotherapist's Own Psychotherapy, Oxford University Press (→ISBN), page 69:
      My father was the youngest son of a High-Church and high Tory family, the politically leftwing and religiously Nonconformist rebel; and antiimperialist who nearly lost his position in the City by refusing to sign his firm's pro–Boer War petition.
  6. Elevated in mood; marked by great merriment, excitement, etc.
    in high spirits
    • 1970, Grateful Dead, High Time, on the album Workingman's Dead
      I was having a high time, living the good life.
  7. (of a lifestyle) Luxurious; rich.
    high living, the high life
    • 2010, Rose Maria McCarthy Anding. High Heels, Honey Lips, & White Powder
      I was living the high lifestyle in famous sex clubs, relaxing on luxurious sofas, in the saunas and whirlpools, enjoying moments of excitement with my male and female companions while sipping champagne from crystal glasses.
  8. Lofty, often to the point of arrogant, haughty, boastful, proud.
    a high tone
  9. (with "on" or "about") Keen, enthused.
    • 2016, David Chan, Enabling Positive Attitudes and Experiences in Singapore, page 140:
      "Conversely, just because I am not high on positivity, it does not mean I am necessarily high on negativity."
    • 2010, Lena, quoted by S. Rosenbloom, The Multiracial Urban High School: Fearing Peers and Trusting Friends (→ISBN), chapter four:
      I'm not that high about the relationship.
  10. (of a body of water) With tall waves.
  11. Large, great (in amount or quantity, value, force, energy, etc).
    My bank charges me a high interest rate.   I was running a high temperature and had high cholesterol.   high voltage   high prices   high winds   a high number
    • 1697, “The First Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432:
      Can heavenly minds such high resentment show?
    • 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.
    • 2005, Tracy Martin, How To Diagnose and Repair Automotive Electrical Systems[2], page 16:
      Ignition voltage needs to be high enough to overcome the high resistance created by the air gap.
    1. Having a large or comparatively larger concentration of (a substance, which is often but not always linked by "in" when predicative).
      Carrots are high in vitamin A.   made from a high-copper alloy
    • 1907, The American Exporter, volume 60, page 101:
      Anyone can determine for himself whether certain wire is high carbon or not. Heat a piece of the wire red hot and while red plunge into water till cold.
  12. (acoustics) Acute or shrill in pitch, due to being of greater frequency, i.e. produced by more rapid vibrations (wave oscillations).
    The note was too high for her to sing.
  13. (phonetics) Made with some part of the tongue positioned high in the mouth, relatively close to the palate.
  14. (card games) Greater in value than other cards, denominations, suits, etc.
    1. (poker) Having the 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
    2. (of a card or hand) Winning; able to take a trick, win a round, etc.
      North's hand was high. East was in trouble.
      • 1894, Harper's Magazine, volume 88, page 910:
        Cutler pushed forward the two necessary white chips. No one's hand was high, and Loomis made a slight winning.
  15. (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.
    • 1991, Stephen King, Needful Things:
      What he did know was this: something about the situation smelled wrong. Something about it smelled as high as dead fish that have spent three days in the hot sun.
  16. (informal) Intoxicated; under the influence of a mood-altering drug, formerly usually alcohol, but now (from the mid-20th century) usually not alcohol but rather marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.
  17. (nautical, of a sailing ship) Near, in its direction of travel, to the (direction of the) wind.
    • 1784, William Falconer, An Universal Dictionary of the Marine: Or, A Copious Explanation:
      NO NEARER! (arrive! Fr.) the command given by the pilot of quarter-master, to the helmsman, to steer the ship no higher to the direction of the wind than the sails will operate to advance the ship in her course.
Derived terms[edit]

Pages starting with “high”.

  • Sranan Tongo: hei
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 Wiktionary:Entry layout § 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. At a pitch of great frequency.
    I certainly can't sing that high.
Usage notes[edit]
  • The adverb high and the adverb highly should not be confused.
    He hung the picture high on the wall.
    As a politician, he isn't esteemed too highly.
  • Yuri Dolgopolov, A Dictionary of Confusable Phrases: More Than 10,000 Idioms (2016, →ISBN): "high on something"


high (plural highs)

  1. A high point or position, literally (as, an elevated place; a superior region; a height; the sky; heaven).or figuratively (as, a point of success or achievement; a time when things are at their best, greatest, most numerous, maximum, etc).
    It was one of the highs of his career.
    Inflation reached a ten-year high.
    • 2019, VOA Learning English (public domain)
      South Korea has reached a new high in a kind of air pollution measured in fine dust.
    1. The maximum atmospheric temperature recorded at a particular location, especially during one 24-hour period.
      Today's high was 32 °C.
  2. 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)[3]
      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.
  3. 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.
  4. (meteorology, informal) A large area of elevated atmospheric pressure; an anticyclone.
    A large high is centred on the Azores.
  5. (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-West Germanic *hugi, 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.