ghast·​ly | \ˈgast-lē \
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

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 My ghastly cries in that hospital disturbed the peace of half the residents of Rongtang Town. Lu Yang, The New Yorker, "Silver Tiger," 4 June 2017 Four years after the Summer of Love, Clint Eastwood arrived in San Francisco with a scowl, a .44 Magnum and some ghastly interrogation techniques. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Wednesday: Fireworks and ‘Captain America’," 4 July 2018 State street, the main thoroughfare, is a ghastly avenue of ruins, parts of its most stately buildings being tumbled down, and cornices, walls and fronts of practically all principal structures shattered down., "June 30, 1925: Quake rocks Santa Barbara," 30 June 2018 Evidence of the ghastly injury is available in dozens of places on YouTube. Ross Dellenger,, "Nick Fitzgerald Rehabs and Readies to Embrace an Offense That Could Make Him Better Than Ever," 27 June 2018 The young and the old are hit hardest, but anyone can get this ghastly disease. Ian Haydon,, "Working to save lives, Philly physicians find way to help patients confront death," 26 June 2018 His Rockies bullpen is ailing Black, to the ghastly tune of a 5.48 ERA. Tom Krasovic,, "Checking on Chargers and Padres," 18 June 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

22 Oct 2018

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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 \
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

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


a private place of worship

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