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Ahold or A Hold—Which Should I Use?

Updated on September 16, 2022Grammar
  • A hold means a grasp, something to hold, or an order to reserve something.
  • Ahold is a variant form of a hold that is not widely used outside the U.S.

Does a space make a difference? Examine the case of ahold vs. a hold.

What does ahold mean?

Ahold often appears as part of the phrase get ahold of. In British English and other non-U.S. dialects, this phrase is usually written as get a hold of or simply get hold of.

Were you able to get ahold of the doctor?

Grab ahold of the life preserver!

My grandmother likes to take ahold of my grandfather’s arm when they cross the street.

Because ahold is usually considered to be an Americanism, you may be better off writing “get hold” or “take hold.” If the phrase sounds unnatural to you without the article, you may be less likely to raise eyebrows if you add the space: “get a hold.”

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What does a hold mean?

A hold can refer to a physical grasp, such as when you take hold of a handle for support. However, it can also mean to control or dominate something or someone mentally or emotionally. When you put a hold on a hotel room or something else, a hold is an order of reservation. In wrestling, a hold is a move to keep your opponent restrained. Finally, in finance, a hold is a security.

Do you have a hold of the horse’s bridle?

I put a hold on the banquet room for my upcoming nuptials.

Examples

If Hermione Granger had gotten ahold of a laptop instead of a wand, she’d likely be one of those idealistic, over-achiever young Muggles powering the world in Silicon Valley.
Wired

You’ve got a hold on me, and there’s nothing I can do.
Robert Mahan, Inspirational Seasons

Ahold is usually reserved for a physical hold, but a hold has a broader application. Is the same true for the pairs nevermind and never mind or followup and follow up?

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