Printable Version
Pronunciation: lo Hear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection

Meaning: 1. Emphatic interjection, used to emphasize what follows by drawing attention to it. 2. Used to direct attention to something, Behold! Look!

Notes: This word bears a tinge of archaism, but it still survives, especially in the phrasal interjection, lo and behold, as in, "He said he wouldn't come but, lo and behold, there he was." Rather than an abbreviation, this word seems to have expanded into "Hello!", which has become a common emphatic interjection today.

In Play: Today's a word that is about to slip away from us; we should do all we can to keep it: "As he left for school that day his mother complained about the messiness of his room, but when he returned, lo, everything was in its place!" We will probably meet this word in the idiom mentioned above: "The president was silent for the first three days of the emergency and then, lo and behold, he tweeted us."

Word History: This interjection originated in Old English la, an exclamation of surprise, grief, or joy. It either merged with or was influenced by Middle English lo, a shortened form of lok "look!", the imperative of loken "to look". Look was also used as an emphatic interjection in such expressions as "Look you! I mean what I say!" This expression is preserved in northern English dialects as 'loo' thee!' Look set out in Old English as locian "look, behold", a cousin of Dutch loeken "to look, watch", and German lugen "to look, peer". How this word entered the Low Germanic languages is unknown. German is a High Germanic language and its basic word for "look" is blicken, found in all the High Germanic and North Germanic languages. German lugen is apparently a borrowing from Dutch.

Dr. Goodword,

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