What does IHS mean and what is it’s derivation?

I’ve searched on the web and read many possible suggestions for the acronym “IHS,” but the most popular seems to be "Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, Saviour of man) in Latin. The “I” instead of “J” seems to be because it is from the Greek “Iesous.”

Starting in the third century the nomina sacra, or names of Jesus, were sometimes shortened by contraction in Christian inscriptions, resulting in sequences of Greek letters such as IH (iota-eta), IC (iota-sigma), or IHC (iota-eta-sigma) for Jesus (Greek I�sous), and XC (chi-sigma), XP (chi-ro) and XPC (chi-rho-sigma) for Christ (Greek Christos). Here “C” represents the medieval “lunate” form of Greek sigma; sigma could also be transcribed into the Latin alphabet by sound, giving IHS and XPS. Some of these Greek monograms continued to be used in Latin during the Middle Ages. Eventually the correct meaning was mostly forgotten, and erroneous interpretation of IHS led to the faulty orthography “Jhesus”. Thanks to “answers.com

Also from answers.com:

IHS are the first 3 letters in Jesus’ name in Greek. It reminds us that Jesus died on the cross for us and our sins. The three letters come from Jesus’ name in Greek, they are the first three letters (iota, eta, and sigma). Also, some other meanings of “IHS” are, in Latin, “IN HOC SANCTIS”, which means “in this sacred place”,

…but it does not mean, in English, “In His Service”, or " I Have Suffered".

Hi John Q - here’s a link to the Original Catholic Encyclopedia.


If you’re Jack Chick it means “Isis, Horus, and Seti”, the Egyptian “trinity”.

You are right, but for many years I thought it stood for In Hoc Signo In This Sign] which was the sign to Constantine which led him to victory and to Christianity. Don’t know where I came up with that.

It actually is the letters of Jesus’ name in greek. Rather in English the letters are IES. But the greek letter for E looks like an H in English.

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