The Meaning of Holistic: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of holistic? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word holistic, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word holistic mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, Collins English Dictionary, and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English language, the word holistic is an adjective that describes something that deals with wholes integrated systems, or the sum of its parts rather than parts themselves. This can also relate to the principles of holism, which is a concept of therapeutics outside the mainstream of scientific medicine. This can involve chiropractic care, naturopathy for the treatment of a disease, nutritional measures, physics, a system of therapeutics, acupuncture, and other holistic solutions. It takes into account the medical consideration of the complete person and a holistic picture of their overall health. Holistic is three syllables – ho-lis-tic, and the pronunciation of holistic is həʊˈlɪstɪk.

Holistic approaches to treatment are far different than the care you may receive from physicians. There is a diversity to the holistic suggestions for prospective patients. One could go see a chiropractor, practice self-care to aid in health problems, use alternative therapies, or visit any other people who are not medical doctors that follow the doctrine of holism or concept of holism and holistic wellness. Holistic practitioners take all aspects of a person into consideration, unlike traditional medicine. A treatment plan from a naturopathic doctor might include adjective the diet to include more protein or carbohydrates, adjusting imbalances, or tackling habits. The primary goal of holistic medicine practice and holistic medicine practitioners is to heal the body naturally. Try seeing a holistic doctor or a naturopath with a holistic medicine philosophy with a specialty in whatever you need fixed, like chiropractors for back problems.

There are many different languages that contain words that have the same meaning as the word holistic. You may notice that many of these words look or sound alike while meaning the same thing. These are called cognates. Cognates are often formed when two words or languages have the same root or language of origin, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word holistic is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Portuguese: holístico‎, holista‎
  •  Swedish: helhet‎, holistisk‎
  •  Finnish: holistinen‎
  •  Italian: olistico‎ (masc.)
  •  Turkish: bütünsel‎, bütünselci‎
  •  Catalan: holístic‎
  •  French: holistique‎ (masc.) (f), holiste‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  German: holistisch‎
  •  Russian: холисти́ческий‎
  •  Mandarin: 全方位‎, 全盤‎, 全盘‎, 全面‎
  •  Sindhi: پُورمَتِي‎
  •  Russian: це́лостный‎, всесторонний‎, всеобъе́млющий‎

What is the origin of the word holistic?

According to Etymonline, the word holistic has been used as an adjective since 1926, and the term holistic medicine has been used since 1960. This comes from the word holism, a term coined by South African quthorGen. J.C. Smuts. He first used the term in his book “Holism and Evolution” which treated evolution as a process of unification of separate parts. This comes from the Greek holos and the Proto-Indo-European root sol meaning whole or well kept. One can add the suffix ly to make the related words holistically and can add the prefix wh to make the related word wholistic. Below is a quote form p. 86 of Smuts’ book:

This character of “wholeness” meets us everywhere and points to something fundamental in the universe. Holism (from [holos] = whole) is the term here coined for this fundamental factor operative towards the creation of wholes in the universe. 

How can the word holistic be used in a sentence?

The word holistic can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Below are several examples of holistic. 

The Washington Post took a holistic look at the problems that were plaguing Americans. They tried to look at the complete systems and functional relation between local politics and the rates of recruitment for an overall campaign at a national level, and found that district-level decision-makers were more apt to influence these assessment trends, wich drives impact nationally.

The streaming company took a holistic approach to its content. They wanted to advocate for diversity from their content creators so that everyone could see themselves reflected on the site. The first inclusion report they ran was a good sign for the digital platform.

The holistic medicine attempts to implement small lifestyle changes in order to find the proper balance of hormones for optimal health. The holistic practitioner attempts to merge all of the interdependent parts of the body to work together seamlessly.

The art students at Princeton University were viewers of a pointillist painting, and had to look at it from afar to get a holistic view.

What are synonyms and antonyms of holistic?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word holistic. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool to have in your arsenal. Not only can they help to expand your vocabulary, but they can help you to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word holistic is provided by Thesaurus

  •  in depth
  •  infinite
  •  the whole shebang
  •  inclusive
  •  lock stock and barrel
  •  the works
  •  of great scope
  •  global
  •  the big picture
  •  all-embracing
  •  catholic
  •  encircling
  •  all-inclusive
  •  complete
  •  extensive
  •  comprehensive
  •  umbrella
  •  synoptic
  •  compendious
  •  thorough
  •  full
  •  sweeping
  •  overall
  •  discursive
  •  wall-to-wall
  •  absolute
  •  broad
  •  blanket
  •  whole
  •  far-reaching
  •  general
  •  widespread
  •  comprising
  •  across the board
  •  wide
  •  containing
  •  exhaustive
  •  encyclopedic
  •  expansive

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning as the word holistic. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are another useful English grammatical device to know to help grow your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word holistic is also provided by Thesaurus

  • particular
  • narrow
  • determinate
  • defined
  • modified
  • limited
  • fixed
  • curbed
  • qualified
  • bound
  • precise
  • bounded
  • constrained
  • checked
  • topical
  • circumscribed
  • controlled
  • sectional
  • reserved
  • finite
  • definite
  • confined
  • delimited
  • hemmed in
  • hampered
  • local
  • restricted
  • restrained

Overall, the word holistic means viewing something as a whole rather than its parts. It can also refer to naturopathy and holistic medicine practices.


  1. holistic: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. HOLISTIC Synonyms: 7 Synonyms & Antonyms for HOLISTIC | Thesaurus 
  3. LIMITED Synonyms: 66 Synonyms & Antonyms for LIMITED | Thesaurus 
  4. holistic | Origin and meaning of holistic | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Holistic definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary