Word of the day – holistic

I’ve just been listening to a very good radio adaptation of Douglas Adam’s novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and that got me wondering about the word holistic. In the novel, Dirk Gently explains that holistic refers to his belief in “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things”, a belief he applies in his work. He endeavours “to solve the whole crime, and find the whole person” or cat.

The word holistic was coined in 1926 by Gen. J.C. Smuts (1870-1950) and is based on the Greek root holos, which means ‘whole’. The theory of holism refers to the theory that regards nature as consisting of wholes.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary

I’ve found equivalents of holistic in a couple of other languages: Welsh – cyfannol and German – ganzheitlich. Do you know of any others?

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

7 Responses to Word of the day – holistic

  1. AR says:

    I cannot stand this word. We used to have holistic tests in school and they were terrible. The word still conjures up bad images.

  2. David says:

    In Hungarian we say “holisztikus”. It means the same as holistic.

  3. Daniel says:

    [quote]
    In Hungarian we say “holisztikus”. It means the same as holistic.
    [/quote]

    In Spanish it-s a cognate word as well. Simply, “holístico”. This always reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which George goes to Kramer’s friend for holistic healing and neither George nor Jerry know what this means.

  4. In Italian the word is “olistico”.

    Notice the lack of H’s: Italian orthography follows a phonetic and not an etymological pattern, at all costs.
    Thus, since the sound /h/ does not exist in our inventory, we will not write here. For the same reason Greek-derived words like rhythm, myrrh or psyche become “ritmo, mirra, psiche”, distancing themselves quite a bit from the originating language.

  5. yuko says:

    In Japanese language, holistic is translated as “全体的な”
    means, wholly, but it just comes from the meaning of the Chinese character, so I guess we don’t have such kind of concept originally.

  6. elsatiph says:

    The Portuguese word is “holístico” with the same meaning.

  7. BG says:

    @Giovanni ‘Prestige’: What about “ho, hai, ha, hanno”. But it is true that Italian has less h’s than Spanish.