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Soul or specter of a deceased person. Belief in ghosts has been common since ancient times and is reflected in folklore around the world. It is based on the notion that the spirit is separable from the body and can continue its existence after the death of the body. Ghosts are believed to inhabit the netherworld and to be capable of returning to the world of the living, appearing as living beings or in a nebulous likeness of the deceased. They are thought to be especially likely to haunt places or people connected with some strong emotion of their past life, such as fear, remorse, or the terror of a violent death. The traditional visual manifestations of haunting include ghostly apparitions, the movement of objects, or the appearance of strange lights; auditory signs include disembodied laughter and screams, knocking, or footsteps.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ghost, visit Britannica.com.