Lo and Behold or Low and Behold?

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated November 17, 2023
3 minute read
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Lo and Behold or Low and Behold?

The phrase "Lo and Behold" is frequently misspelt in writing or texts as "Low and Behold", which is incorrect. Let's figure out the idiom's meaning, when to use it, and how to correctly spell it when writing.

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What Is the Meaning of 'Lo and Behold'?

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The interjection 'lo and behold' is an idiom that's used to express surprise or wonder. The phrase literally means "look and see", and people use it when a surprising event happens. For instance:

Amanda went to pick up her baby from the daycare, but, lo and behold, the building was locked up!

The idiom is quite dramatic and obsolete, so many people use it ironically or sarcastically when an occurrence is completely unsurprising. For example:

I told her to come to the party low-key, and lo and behold,

She came wearing an elaborate red dress and caught everyone's attention.

Origin of Lo and Behold

The word 'lo' in the idiomatic expression is very likely to have originated from the abbreviation of the word 'look', and it's majorly sighted in Middle English texts from the 18th century.

Behold was as regular as see, observe, or look at, and it differs from the adjective ‘beholden,’ which means ‘to owe someone something.’

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Professionals also believe that the word ‘lo' is akin to O!, which has been in use since the first Millennium. The word is seen in ancient writings like Beowulf and the Bible.

“And Abraham said, Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is my hair.” - Genesis 15:3

However, the two words 'lo' and 'behind' were used separately before the 18th century.

The Common Mistake (Low and Behold)

People often make the mistake of writing the phrase as ‘low and behold', mostly because the word ‘lo' is quite unusual. Therefore, it is possible to assume the phrase uses the more well-known word ‘low' if you’ve only heard the idiom in spoken words and not in written texts.  

Regardless of the similarities between the two words, the correct spelling is and will always be ‘lo and behind.’ So, ensure you use the right spelling when writing.

Should a Comma Be Added After ‘Lo and Behold?’

You may add a comma before and after ‘lo and behold' to segregate it from the remaining sentence. You can also end the phrase with a period since it can be freestanding as a sentence.

Note that the most vital aspect of a sentence is the verb. For example, “Go!” is a complete sentence considering that the invisible subject is “you” and the verb is “Go.”

Synonyms of Lo and Behold

The nearest synonym of ‘lo and behold' is ‘look and see.’ The list below contains interjections that express surprise or shock. However, these words are not always plainly used to introduce a change of events or a fresh scene, as in the case of lo and behold.

·       Oh/Good Lord

·       Hey

·       Wow

·       Well, well

·       Oh

·       Yipee

·       Thank heaven(s)/God/goodness

·       Excellent

·       Hooray

·       Hallelujah

·       Surprise

Proper Way to Use the Expression ‘Lo and Behold' in a Sentence

Image credit: BBC

Now, lo and behold, there seems to be a slight issue with those first watches to hit the streets: as happy new owners began flexing on social media, some noticed that the cases were leaving stains on their wrists. (Gear Patrol)

Well, the President’s budget just came out — and lo and behold, it includes a document called Our Government’s Goals, that lists performance goals by agency. (FCW)

To Wrap It Up

Using the phrase “lo and behold” in English without sounding sarcastic or ironic is quite difficult to do. However, it’s still an excellent idea to use idioms in a brand-new tone. They attach colour to your writing and help you appear proficient in the English language.

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Rebecca Hey
Founder of Strategically.co, we’ve created over 10 million words of impactful content, driving organic traffic growth for more than 300 businesses.
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