ghast·​ly | \ ˈgast-lē How to pronounce ghastly (audio) \
ghastlier; ghastliest

Definition of ghastly

1a : terrifyingly horrible to the senses : frightening a ghastly crime
b : intensely unpleasant, disagreeable, or objectionable such a life seems ghastly in its emptiness and sterility— Aldous Huxley
2 : resembling a ghost
3 obsolete : filled with fear
4 : very great a ghastly mistake

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Other Words from ghastly

ghastliness noun
ghastly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for ghastly

ghastly, grisly, gruesome, macabre, lurid mean horrifying and repellent in appearance or aspect. ghastly suggests the terrifying aspects of corpses and ghosts. a ghastly accident grisly and gruesome suggest additionally the results of extreme violence or cruelty. an unusually grisly murder suffered a gruesome death macabre implies a morbid preoccupation with the physical aspects of death. a macabre tale of premature burial lurid adds to gruesome the suggestion of shuddering fascination with violent death and especially with murder. the lurid details of a crime

Examples of ghastly in a Sentence

You're making a ghastly mistake. His room was a ghastly mess.
Recent Examples on the Web In 2008, the Ethiopian government banned its citizens from traveling for work purposes to Lebanon, in an attempt to curb ghastly numbers of deaths of its citizens there. Zecharias Zelalem, Quartz Africa, "Thousands of Ethiopian domestic workers are stranded in Lebanon by the coronavirus crisis," 21 May 2020 And as many states demand a balanced budget and have outlawed deficit spending, the forthcoming 2021 budgets are likely to be a ghastly sight absent serious federal relief. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Pandemic That Changed Everything Changed Nothing," 13 May 2020 There are vivid and ghastly descriptions of hemorrhagic shock, social disorder and brutality. Douglas Preston, New York Times, "An Eerily Prescient Pandemic Novel That’s Guaranteed to Terrify," 1 May 2020 As for pitching, the team’s ERA stood at 5.73, inflated by ghastly numbers from several members on the staff. George M. Thomas,, "For University of Akron baseball coach Chris Sabo, cancellation is like starting over again," 18 Mar. 2020 Also, LaMelo’s brother Lonzo has completely re-engineered his ghastly 3-point shooting stroke, which is no easy feat and might indicate that the family is getting really good basketball advice somewhere. Scott Ostler,, "Sports on hold, but no shortage of lying and greed," 14 Mar. 2020 The 42-year-old Newman was involved in a ghastly crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday night and everyone feared the worst. Mark Long,, "Driver Ryan Newman hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after ghastly Daytona 500 crash," 18 Feb. 2020 The ghastly prospect that the coronavirus outbreak could become the first truly disruptive pandemic of the globalization era is renewing doubts over the stability of the world economy. Craig Stirling, Time, "Coronavirus Could Cost World $1 Trillion If It Becomes a Pandemic, Analysts Predict," 25 Feb. 2020 Videos shared on Twitter show ghastly scenes in which people infected with the virus simply collapse in the street as doctors wearing hazmat suits tend to the illness. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'Outsiders forbidden': Coronavirus kills 38 in biggest single-day jump since outbreak," 30 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ghastly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ghastly

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ghastly

Middle English gastly, from gasten to terrify — more at gast

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Time Traveler for ghastly

Time Traveler

The first known use of ghastly was in the 14th century

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Statistics for ghastly

Cite this Entry

“Ghastly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ghastly



English Language Learners Definition of ghastly

: very shocking or horrible
: very bad


ghast·​ly | \ ˈgast-lē How to pronounce ghastly (audio) \
ghastlier; ghastliest

Kids Definition of ghastly

1 : very shocking or horrible a ghastly crime a ghastly mistake
2 : like a ghost : pale a ghastly face

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Comments on ghastly

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