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Alternative forms[edit]


From earlier holesome, from Middle English holsom, holsum, helsum, halsum, from Old English *hālsum, *hǣlsum, from Proto-Germanic *hailasamaz, equivalent to whole +‎ -some. Cognate with Dutch heilzaam, Icelandic heilsamur, Norwegian Nynorsk helsesam, Swedish hälsosam (wholesome).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈhoʊlsəm/
  • (file)


wholesome (comparative wholesomer, superlative wholesomest)

  1. Promoting good physical health and well-being.
  2. Promoting moral and mental well-being.
    • 1750, Thomas Morell (lyrics), George Frideric Handel (music), “Theodora”‎[1]:
      Though hard, my friends, yet wholesome are the truths, taught in affliction's school, whence the pure soul rises refined, and soars above the world.
  3. Favourable to morals, religion or prosperity; sensible; conducive to good; salutary; promoting virtue or being virtuous.
  4. Marked by wholeness; sound and healthy.
  5. Decent, innocuous, sweet.
    • 2019, Gretchen McCulloch, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, Riverhead Books, →ISBN:
      Around the same time, “wholesome” memes of cute doggos and puppers rejuvenated social media feeds that seemed daily filled with fresh horrors.
    • 2020 February 3, Kaitlyn Tiffany, “The Misogynistic Joke That Became a Goth-Meme Fairy Tale”, in The Atlantic[2]:
      The comment section on a recent post making fun of a “cute” and “wholesome” Doomer Girl meme is mixed.



Derived terms[edit]