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late Old English, from Old Norse holmr "small island, especially in a bay or river," also "meadow by a shore," or cognate Old Danish hulm "low lying land," from Proto-Germanic *hul-maz, from PIE root *kel- "to rise, be elevated, be prominent; hill" (see hill). Obsolete, but preserved in place names. Cognate Old English holm (only attested in poetic language) meant "sea, ocean, wave."