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Is "Ahold" a Word?

Categories: Grammar.

Q: I see people use “ahold” and “a hold,” but I’ve been told that “ahold” isn’t a word.  Can you clear this up for me once and for all? –Nina J.

A: Unlike “alot” which isn’t a word, “ahold” is a word recognized by Merriam-Webster, Garner’s Modern American Usage and most other writing authorities. For example:

While it’s not easy to get ahold of playoff tickets, I know a guy who knows a guy who sold me two. I tried to get ahold of my wife to see if she wanted to go, but she doesn’t consider Wrestlemania “the playoffs.”

So don’t hold back on your use of ahold.

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9 Responses to Is "Ahold" a Word?

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  2. debinMemphis says:

    Oh, no. The proper Southern term is Aholt and is only used with a dangling preposition, as in "aholt of". Example: "When I seen what that dog was doin’ I grabbed aholt of him and shook him good."

  3. Laurie Swenson says:

    Most dictionary/English sources I found in a quick search refer to "ahold" as "informal," "colloquialism," "idiom," etc. While that may make it technically a word, Merriam-Webster also lists "alright" as a word, and I wouldn’t use either "get ahold of" or "alright" in a newspaper article.

    "Get hold of" is all right, though. :)

  4. Laurie Swenson says:

    Most dictionary/English sources I found in a quick search refer to "ahold" as "informal," "colloquialism," "idiom," etc. "Get hold of" While that may make it technically a word, Merriam-Webster also lists "alright" as a word, and I wouldn’t use either "get ahold of" or "alright" in a newspaper article.

    "Get hold of" is all right, though. :)

  5. Dawn says:

    If only Spell Check programs gould get "ahold" of this information…

  6. Robert Simms says:

    Those unfamiliar with "ahold" tacitly admit the limitations of their reading or regional experience. Clearly, literature establishes "ahold" in the language.

    However, in a construction such as the following, "ahold" will not do:

    "If you can get a hold on that rope, I can pull you up."

    The sentence could just as easily be written:

    "If you can get ahold of that rope. . ." using a different preposition. "Ahold" normally takes "of." Using "on" opts for a slightly different sense and eliminates the option of using the conjoined "ahold."

    • JudgeSimms says:

      “Ahold” is like “alight,” “apart,” “afraid,” and other words that have as their main part a verb (light, part, fear) preceded by “a-”, an old French and subsequently Anglo-Saxon word which in the case of them all has the prepositional idea of either “on” or “to.” As late as 1980, some dictionaries were not listing “ahold” at all, but it hardly seems objectionable to include it in standard English. It will be much longer before “a’comin’”, a great Southern-ism (via Scotland), is accepted.

      The other Robert Simms (my name, too) correctly observes that “a hold on” is not quite the same. It makes use of the noun “hold.” The difference is conceptual. “Get a hold on” means literally to grip. “Get ahold of” usually means to acquire.

  7. Tom Williams says:

    I have never seen "ahold" used as a word. It seems odd to have a word composed of two others, omitting only the space and the two having the same meaning and usage. What is the point of using "ahold?" I see the citations to dictionaries supporting the word but do not understand why one would use it.

  8. Teresa says:

    "Ahold" may be a word, but it sounds and reads terrible.
    "Get their hands on tickets" just feels better.

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