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Ado-noy and Elokim are regular words in Hebrew that have regular meaning ("lords" and "powers"). Why do we treat them as holy words when used in reference to God? They seem the same as any other description (like Rachum -- merciful) which is not considered a holy word.

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Anything that refers to God is "treated as holy". But the two examples you cite are used in prayer, and we feel the need to mark the difference between a fleeting reference in a normal conversation and a direct address in prayer. So we tweak the words when used in conversation.

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    Sounds plausible – larry909 Aug 28 at 3:52
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    This is an incorrect response. – Double AA Aug 28 at 11:41

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