Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English gost, gast, from Old English gāst (breath, soul, spirit, ghost, being), from Proto-West Germanic *gaist, from Proto-Germanic *gaistaz (ghost, spirit), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéysd-os, from *ǵʰéysd- (anger, agitation). Cognate with Scots ghaist (ghost), Saterland Frisian Gäist (spirit), West Frisian geast (spirit), Dutch geest (spirit, mind, ghost), German Geist (spirit, mind, intellect), Swedish gast (ghost), Sanskrit हेड (héḍa, anger, hatred), Persian زشت(zešt, ugly, hateful, disgusting).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɡəʊst/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ɡoʊst/
  • (India) IPA(key): /ɡoːst/, [ɡoːst], [ɡʱoːst]
  • Rhymes: -əʊst
  • (file)


ghost (plural ghosts)

  1. (dated) The spirit; the soul of man.
    • (Can we date this quote by Spenser and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Then gives her grieved ghost thus to lament.
  2. The disembodied soul; the soul or spirit of a deceased person; a spirit appearing after death
    Everyone believed that the ghost of an old lady haunted the crypt.
    • 1667, John Dryden, Annus Mirabilis
      The mighty ghosts of our great Harries rose.
    • 1798, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere:
      I thought that I had died in sleep/And was a blessed ghost
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page vii:
      Hepaticology, outside the temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere, still lies deep in the shadow cast by that ultimate "closet taxonomist," Franz Stephani—a ghost whose shadow falls over us all.
  3. Any faint shadowy semblance; an unsubstantial image
    • 1845, Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven:
      Each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7:
      Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
    • 2017 July 23, Brandon Nowalk, “The great game begins with a bang on Game Of Thrones (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      The Arya subplot makes up for a lot, though. At first she’s so aloof as to make you wonder whether there is any of the old Arya in there. She’s sitting there with her old friend Hot Pie, gorging on freshly baked bread, and she’s stuck in a terrible monotone. She barely answers his questions. She’s a ghost of herself. And then Hot Pie gives us the key to Arya’s whole thing this season so far: She didn’t know that Jon had defeated the Boltons.
    not a ghost of a chance; the ghost of an idea
  4. A false image formed in a telescope, camera, or other optical device by reflection from the surfaces of one or more lenses.
  5. An unwanted image similar to and overlapping or adjacent to the main one on a television screen, caused by the transmitted image being received both directly and via reflection.
  6. A ghostwriter.
  7. (Internet) An unresponsive user on IRC, resulting from the user's client disconnecting without notifying the server.
  8. (computing) An image of a file or hard disk.
  9. (theater) An understudy.
  10. (espionage) A covert (and deniable) agent.
  11. The faint image that remains after an attempt to remove graffiti.
    • 1992, Maurice J. Whitford, Getting Rid of Graffiti, page 45:
      Regardless of GRM used, graffiti ghosts persist. Protect cladding with surface coating or replace with graffiti resistant paint or laminate.
  12. (video games) An opponent in a racing game that follows a previously recorded route, allowing players to compete against previous best times.
    • 2012, Keith Burgun, Game Design Theory: A New Philosophy for Understanding Games:
      This is also the case for some racing games (Super Mario Kart is a good example) that allow you to compete against your ghosts, which are precise recordings of your performance.
  13. A dead person whose identity is stolen by another. See ghosting.
  14. (attributive, in names of species) White or pale.
  15. (attributive, in names of species) Transparent or translucent.
  16. (attributive) Abandoned.
  17. (attributive) Remnant; the remains of a(n).
  18. (attributive) Perceived or listed but not real.
  19. (attributive) Of cryptid, supernatural or extraterrestrial nature.
  20. (attributive) Substitute.
    ghost writer; ghost band; ghost singer


Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from ghost


  • Japanese: ゴースト (gōsuto)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit


ghost (third-person singular simple present ghosts, present participle ghosting, simple past and past participle ghosted)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To haunt; to appear to in the form of an apparition.
  2. (obsolete) To die; to expire.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Philip Sidney to this entry?)
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To ghostwrite.
  4. (nautical) To sail seemingly without wind.
    • 2016, Nathanael Johnson, Unseen City, →ISBN, page 192:
      They move without any visible sign of movement, like a wakeless ship ghosting over the water.
  5. (computing) To copy a file or hard drive image.
  6. (graphical user interface) To gray out (a visual item) to indicate that it is unavailable.
    • 1991, Amiga User Interface Style Guide (page 76)
      Whenever a menu or menu item is inappropriate or unavailable for selection, it should be ghosted. Never allow the user to select something that does nothing in response.
  7. (Internet, transitive) To forcibly disconnect an IRC user who is using one's reserved nickname.
    • 2001, "Luke", to leave (vb.): Hurg [OT] (on newsgroup alt.games.lucas-arts.monkey-island)
      I'm so untechnical that I once ghosted a registered IRC nick and then tried to identify myself to NickServ with the valid password before actually changing my nick to the aforementioned moniker.
  8. To appear without warning; to move quickly and quietly; to slip.
    • 2011 September 24, David Ornstein, “Arsenal 3 - 0 Bolton”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      Arsenal came into the match under severe pressure and nerves were palpable early on as Pratley was brilliantly denied by Szczesny after ghosting in front of Kieran Gibbs
    • 2011, Mark Harnden, In the Dark Backyard, →ISBN, page 59:
      At the flank of the main stage, I took root for an hour, until a female form ghosted in front of me that I recognised from university two years before.
    • 2012, Ian Tregillis, Bitter Seeds, →ISBN:
      He ghosted through the door. It clanged a few seconds later as his pursuer pounded on it.
  9. To kill.
    • 2000, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, David Twohy, Pitch Black (film):
      My recommendation: Do me. Don't take the chance that I'll get shiv-happy on your wannabe ass. Ghost me, Riddick. Would if I were you. Though I notice he tried to ghost my ass. When he shot up that stranger instead.
    • 2004, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, David Twohy, The Chronicles of Riddick (film):
      He just ghosted two guys, and I never even saw him. Plan was to clean the bank, ghost the mercs, break wide through the tunnel.
    • 2013, im Wheat, Ken Wheat, David Twohy, Riddick (film):
      This may come as a shock to you, Johns, but I didn't ghost your son. He seemed set on killin' himself. Diaz was gonna take the nodes for himself and ghost me. He was gonna leave you out here alone.
  10. (slang) To break up with someone without warning or explanation; to perform an act of ghosting.
    • 2016 March 21, Allison P. Davies, “What I Learned Tindering My Way Across Europe”, in Travel + Leisure[3], archived from the original on 2018-01-06:
      By 6 p.m., I had a list of restaurants to try from Hamish, a chef who couldn’t meet, a follow-up from Adam (“I’ve never seen a room at the Ace....”), and an offer from Agoraphobic Paul to come over and “have a joint and a cuddle.” I’d confirmed a walking tour of Greenwich from Max, who ghosted.
    • 2017 September 26, Judith Duportail, “I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets”, in The Guardian[4]:
      Tinder knows me so well. It knows the real, inglorious version of me who copy-pasted the same joke to match 567, 568, and 569; who exchanged compulsively with 16 different people simultaneously one New Year’s Day, and then ghosted 16 of them.
    • 2018, Ling Ma, chapter 17, in Severance, →ISBN:
      He had texted, called, and emailed a bunch since then. I hadn't meant to ghost, but it was just easier not to deal with it.

Derived termsEdit