From Middle English gostly, gastlich, from Old English gāstlīċ (spiritual, holy, clerical (not lay), ghastly, ghostly, spectral), equivalent to ghost +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots ghaistly, gaistly (spiritual, ghastly, terrifying), West Frisian geastlik (spiritual, clerical, religious), Dutch geestelijk (spiritual, clerical, ecclesiastical), German geistlich (spiritual, sacred, religious), Danish geistlig (ecclesiastical, clerical).



ghostly (comparative ghostlier, superlative ghostliest)

  1. Of or pertaining to ghosts or spirits.
    a ghostly figure with a hood
    The graveyard was haunted by a ghostly figure of a young girl.
    The ghostly moaning was heard from upstairs.
  2. Spooky; frightening.
    A ghostly hush fell.
    • 1929, Robert Dean Frisbee, The Book of Puka-Puka (republished by Eland, 2019; p. 35):
      Scores of coconut-shell fires blazed with their characteristic glaring white flame, throwing grotesque shadows on the brown thatched huts, dancing in fairylike shimmerings among the domes of coconut fronds, casting ghostly reaches of light through the adjacent graveyards, and silhouetting the forms of pareu-clad natives at work cleaning their fish or laying them on the live coals to broil.
    • 2019, Dave Eggers, The Parade, Vintage Books N.Y., p. 134
      His lips were chapped and lined with a ghostly purple fringe.
  3. Relating to the soul; not carnal or secular; spiritual.
    a ghostly confessor



See alsoEdit