Simple Definition of poltergeist
: a ghost that makes strange noises and causes objects to move
Full Definition of poltergeist
: a noisy usually mischievous ghost held to be responsible for unexplained noises (as rappings)
Examples of poltergeist in a sentence
<we thought a poltergeist was knocking dishes off the shelves, but it turned out to just be vibrations from passing trains>
Did You Know?
One of the tricks a poltergeist is known for is making "knocking" noises, so it will come as no surprise to learn that the word poltergeist translates literally from German as knocking spirit. The German verb poltern means "to knock, and "Geist" is the German word for "spirit." Another "Geist" descendant in English is "zeitgeist" ("the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era"). The English word ghost is also related; it descends from the same ancient root that led to "Geist." Although "ghost" has been used in English since before the 12th century, "poltergeist" is a relative newcomer, first appearing as an English word in the middle of the 19th century.
Origin of poltergeist
German, from poltern to knock + Geist spirit
First Known Use: 1848
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