Also found in: Wikipedia.


 (hŏl′ə-frăs′tĭk, hō′lə-)
1. Polysynthetic.
2. Of or relating to the stage of child language development characterized by the use of single-word utterances.

[holo- + Greek phrastikos, expressive (from -phrastos, speakable, thought of, from phrazein, to show; see gwhren- in Indo-European roots).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Linguistics) denoting the stage in a child's acquisition of syntax when most utterances are single words
2. (Linguistics) (of languages) tending to express in one word what would be expressed in several words in other languages; polysynthetic
[C19: from holo- + Greek phrastikos expressive, from phrazein to express]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
"radical" with a holophrastic ease at least equal to the
All of them are studded with scientific terminology, for example: "research," "index," "function," "documentation" "context," "analysed utterance," "holophrastic speech," "transitional object," "dysmenorrhoea," "buccal pitocin," "intravenous infusion," "linea migra," "habitat," etc.
This is what we today would call the poem as holophrasis, or a holophrastic expression; by definition, such a structure condenses in itself a huge semantic context which is impossible to describe in a few words.
This type of language is similar to the holophrastic period observed in children at the beginning of language development, around the age 12-18 months [86].
This word has turned into a holophrastic one reflecting one's need of everything good and valuable.
Quine's holophrastic account of observation sentences yields the doctrine of ontological indeterminacy.
Another 19th century writer, Francis Lieber, coined the term "holophrastic" for languages of this type.
"That's Raven Talk": Holophrastic Readings of Contemporary Indigenous Literatures.
They may have been at a holophrastic stage, or they may have had nearly full human language--it is difficult to imagine any way to tell.
13.4.1 The overemphasis on collocation at the expense of holophrastic comprehension may be the result of syntactocentrism and so should be reviewed.
The first, called casual realism, arises around two years of age and has the peculiarity that the child attributes a particular meaning to a sign made, as with a holophrastic language in which a single word takes on the meaning of an entire phrase.
An Act will often be expressed, especially in spoken language, as a holophrastic expression, if the speaker considers that the content of such an expression is all that is required in at that point in the discourse, although much more complex Acts are, of course, possible.