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

Developed and sold by the esteemed English paint manufacturer Farrow & Ball, color 214 pays homage to the slightly ghastly shade of green popularized by the Victorians. Whitney Robinson, ELLE Decor, "The Best Shade of Green is Actually Named for a Deadly Poison," 26 Apr. 2019 Deaver’s singular flair for ghastly irony is on full display in these opening scenes. Marilyn Stasio, New York Times, "Solving Crimes the Old-Fashioned Way," 13 Apr. 2018 Bette’s a comedian with every right to make a joke about that ghastly outfit. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Bette Midler Sparks Controversy with Vulgar Melania Trump Tweet," 16 Nov. 2018 And this week, Just Jared called attention to the new pictures of Bill in his full Pennywise look, from the ghastly white makeup, to his signature red hair and the spooky grey costume — essentially a traditional clown look gone gothic. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "New Photos Show Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise on the Set of “It: Chapter 2”," 18 Sep. 2018 But this sequence's world design, combat-or-stealth path options, and ghastly beasts (particularly packs of sadistic, mutated wolves) reaffirmed my interest in carving out time for the final game on February 22, 2019. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "The 16 surprising new games that made PAX West an absolute blast," 9 Sep. 2018 Visitors will lose their heads over these ghastly decorations! Megan Stein, Country Living, "Halloween String Lights Are the Spooky Decoration You Never Knew You Needed," 29 Aug. 2018 The Rockets finished with 19 turnovers, and a ghastly offensive rating of 89.4 For Houston to win, all of its role players need to step up. Rohan Nadkarni,, "Warriors' Defense and Stephen Curry's Hot Shooting Overwhelm Rockets in Game 3 Blowout," 20 May 2018 Snyder explored the ghastly consequences of tyranny and the breakdown of human values and norms in the center of Europe. Margaret Macmillan, New York Times, "Are We Traveling the ‘Road to Unfreedom’?," 9 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near ghastly







Ghazālī, al-

Statistics for ghastly

Last Updated

7 May 2019

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Time Traveler for ghastly

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on ghastly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ghastly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ghastly

Spanish Central: Translation of ghastly

Nglish: Translation of ghastly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ghastly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ghastly

What made you want to look up ghastly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a tendency to relapse

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