Several European languages known to me have a verbal phrase idiom literally translatable as "hold from", expressing various kinds of positive attitude:

  • Dutch houden van "love"
  • Finnish pitää -stA "like"
  • Hebrew hikhzik mi- "respect, hold in high regard" (Hebrew isn't technically a European language, but it can be argued to be one in a broad sense)

It seems most likely that the remesblance is due to calquing. Three questions:

  1. If this is so, what is the origin of the calque?
  2. What other languages have comparable idioms?
  3. What is the semantic link between "hold from" and "like" etc.?
  • 2
    German: etwas von jemandem/etwas halten (lit. to hold something from someone/something) = to think sth of someone/something; in this form (or with viel (= "much") etc.) in a positive sense, i.e. to approve of; with nichts (= "nothing") or simiar negative quantifications in a negative sense, to disapprove of
    – lemontree
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:29
  • Can it be that "I hold from you" is used in the sense of "I get high / get stunned / get stoned / get petrified/ hold my breath / freeze from [how gtreat is] you"?
    – Yellow Sky
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:45
  • As for the semantic link, I could imagine something like "This gives a lot to me", "I hold on to it (because it is of value to me)", "I keep it in my heart" etc.
    – lemontree
    Feb 6, 2017 at 0:01
  • Also, French has tenir à. Dec 26, 2018 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


As Lemontree has mentioned "etwas von jemandem halten" is a very common phrase in German. "Was halten Sie davon?" = "What do you think of it?". "Ich halte nichts davon" = "I have a low opinion of it". I think it is a quintessentially German idiom. Presumably is was calqued from German to Dutch, Finnish and Yiddish > Modern Hebrew.

  • Thanks, I suspected German might be the source. Does the phrase used without an adverb have a default positive connotation, i.e. does Ich halte davon mean something like "I like it"?
    – TKR
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:57
  • No, "ich halte davon" does not work on its own.
    – fdb
    Feb 6, 2017 at 0:01
  • As fdb said, without an adverbial it is ungrammatical, however Ich halte etwas davon, with etwas (= "something") being actually a neutral element like in the base form in etwas von jemandem halten (= to think sth of soe), it has positive meaning, so this seems to be the more default-like.
    – lemontree
    Feb 6, 2017 at 0:04
  • 1
    No line of argumentation or any source are provided here to justify that the German phrase is the source or that it even has any connection to the phrases in the other languages.
    – alephreish
    Mar 11, 2017 at 17:47
  • And I would be interested why High German should be the source of the Dutch expression houden van. Dec 26, 2018 at 10:36

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