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Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A circular band of colored light around a light source, as around the sun or moon, caused by the refraction and reflection of light by ice particles suspended in the intervening atmosphere.
  • n. Something resembling this band.
  • n. A luminous ring or disk of light surrounding the heads or bodies of sacred figures, such as saints, in religious paintings; a nimbus.
  • n. The aura of majesty or glory surrounding a person or thing that is regarded with reverence, awe, or sentiment.
  • transitive v. To encircle with or as if with a halo.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A circular band of coloured light, visible around the sun or moon etc., caused by reflection and refraction of light by ice crystals in the atmosphere.
  • n. A cloud of gas and other matter surrounding and captured by the gravitational field of a large diffuse astronomical object, such as a galaxy or cluster of galaxies.
  • n. Anything resembling this band, such as an effect caused by imperfect developing of photographs.
  • n. nimbus, a luminous disc, often of gold, around or over the heads of saints, etc., in religious paintings.
  • n. The metaphorical aura of glory, veneration or sentiment which surrounds an idealized entity.
  • v. To encircle with a halo.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A luminous circle, usually prismatically colored, round the sun or moon, and supposed to be caused by the refraction of light through crystals of ice in the atmosphere. Connected with halos there are often white bands, crosses, or arches, resulting from the same atmospheric conditions.
  • n. A circle of light; especially, the bright ring represented in painting as surrounding the heads of saints and other holy persons; a glory; a nimbus.
  • n. An ideal glory investing, or affecting one's perception of, an object.
  • n. A colored circle around a nipple; an areola.
  • v. To form, or surround with, a halo; to encircle with, or as with, a halo.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A luminous circle, either white or colored, seen round the sun or moon, and commonly of 22° or of 46° radius, the definite radii depending on the definite angles of ice-crystals.
  • n. A circle of light, as the nimbus surrounding the head of a saint. See nimbus.
  • n. A brownish circle round the nipple; an areola.
  • n. Pl. halones (hal′ ō˙-nēz). In ornithology, certain chiefly concentric rings of color in the yolk of an egg: an optical appearance due to the deposition of the yolk in successive layers or strata.
  • n. Figuratively, an ideal glow or glory investing an object as viewed through the medium of feeling or sentiment.
  • To form a halo.
  • To surround with a halo.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a toroidal shape
  • n. a circle of light around the sun or moon
  • n. an indication of radiant light drawn around the head of a saint

Etymologies

Medieval Latin halō, from accusative of Latin halōs, from Greek, threshing floor, disk of or around the sun or moon.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin halos, from Ancient Greek ἅλως (hálōs, "disk of the sun or moon, ring of light around the sun or moon"), (also  ("threshing floor") and  ("disk of a shield")), itself of unknown origin, possibly derived from Arabic هالة [] (hâla, circle around moon seen at nights due to vapors). Used in English since 1563, sense of light around someone’s head since 1646. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • HALO (all caps) stands for High Altitude Low Opening. (See also PJ, the pipeline for more info.)

    "HALO stands for High Altitude Low Opening; it's used to drop PJs into hot areas where a more leisurely deployment would get them all killed. In terms of violating the constraints of the physical world, HALO jumping is one of the more outlandish things human beings have ever done. The PJs jump from so high up—as high as 40,000 feet—that they need bottled oxygen to breathe. They leave the aircraft with two oxygen bottles strapped to their sides, a parachute on their back, a reserve 'chute on their chest, a full medical pack on their thighs, and an M-16 on their harness. They're at the top of the troposphere—the layer where weather happens—and all they can hear is the scream of their own velocity. They're so high up that they freefall for two or three minutes and pull their 'chutes at a thousand feet or less. That way, they're almost impossible to kill."
    —Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm, 1997 (NY: HarperCollins, 1999), 177

    September 8, 2009