ˈhōst How to pronounce host (audio) 1 : army the destruction of Pharaoh’s host in that sea— W. L. Sperry 2 : a great number : multitude a whole host of options

1a : one that receives or entertains guests socially, commercially, or officially were greeted at the door by our host ourself will mingle with society and play the humble host— William Shakespeare

b : one that provides facilities for an event or function our college served as host for the basketball tournament

2a biology : a living animal or plant on or in which a parasite lives

c biology : an individual into which a tissue, part, or embryo is transplanted from another

3 : a mineral or rock that is older than the minerals or rocks in it also : a substance that contains a usually small amount of another substance incorporated in its structure

4 : a person who talks to guests on a radio or television program the host of a talk show a game-show host

5 : a computer that controls communications in a network or that administers a database also : server sense 6

religion : the eucharistic bread

History and Etymology for host

Noun (1)

Middle English ost, host “army, detachment, body of attendants, multitude, throng,” borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Late Latin hostis “archenemy, the Devil, army,” going back to Latin, “foreigner, stranger” (in early use), “enemy,” going back to dialectal Indo-European *ghost-i- “outsider, guest” — more at guest entry 1

Note: The use of hostis to mean “army,” evident in 6th-century Latin (Gregory the Great, Gregory of Tours), is apparently via the sense shift “enemy” > “enemy army” > “any armed force.” For details on the earlier semantic history of Latin hostis see note at guest entry 1.

Verb (1)

derivative of host entry 1

Noun (2)

Middle English ost, host “person who receives guests, guest,” borrowed from Anglo-French oste, hoste, going back to Latin hospit-, hospes “guest, visitor, person receiving guests,” going back to dialectal Indo-European *ghosti-pot- (whence probably also Old Church Slavic gospodĭ “lord, master”), from *ghost-i- “outsider, guest” + *pot- “one in control, master” — more at guest entry 1, potent entry 1

Note: The dual meanings “host”/”guest” of Latin hospes and its progeny are due to customs of reciprocity: a person serving as guest on one occasion would act—and be expected to act—as host on another occasion to a visiting former host. Both Latin hospes and Slavic gospodĭ have undergone a considerable degree of phonetic reduction from their putative etymons—in particular in the Slavic case, where Latin unstressed syllable reduction and syncope were not at play—leading some to question the correctness of the etymologies. Parallel compounds with the same second element are Greek despótēs “master, lord” (going back to *dems-pot- “master of the house”; see despot), Sanskrit dámpatiḥ “householder, lord of the house,” Avestan də̄ṇg paitiš; Sanskrit viśpátiḥ “chief of a settlement/tribe,” Avestan vīspaitiš, Lithuanian viẽšpats “lord” (with outcomes of Indo-European *u̯iḱ-, *u̯oiḱ- “house, community”; see vicinity).

Verb (2)

Middle English hosten, osten, derivative of ost, host host entry 3

Noun (3)

Middle English hoste, oste “sacrificial offering, bread consecrated in the Eucharist,” borrowed from Anglo-French hoste, hoiste, going back to Late Latin hostia “Eucharist,” going back to Latin, “sacrificial animal,” derivative from the base of hostīre “to recompense, requite,” hostis “foreigner, stranger, enemy” — more at guest entry 1