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

When Assad deployed these ghastly armaments against civilians in a suburb of Damascus in 2013, however, the punitive measures never materialized. Brian Stewart, National Review, "For Sama: A Chronicle of the Syrian Tragedy," 10 Aug. 2019 Call him Harry Bosch but in Lebanon, a ghastly place at the time. Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times, "Review: A love note to Beirut and a lament for war — Rawi Hage’s latest is a hell of a story," 20 July 2019 Mark Melancon has contributed some but owns a ghastly WHIP (1.63) and has surrendered too many big hits to consider a role befitting his salary. Henry Schulman,, "Giants midseason analysis: Farm system trending up, core struggling," 11 July 2019 Epic dredging and landfilling followed, then eventually a ghastly sprawl of asphalt. Dan Zak, Washington Post, "The Democratic debate is being held at ‘ground zero’ for the threat of rising seas. Can the climate candidate get a word in edgewise?," 27 June 2019 Washington remains as dangerous as ever, even after a ghastly start. Michael Shapiro,, "Lucas Giolito Is Living Up to His Top Prospect Billing," 11 June 2019 But the fact that plastic goes to places untouched by humans and leaves such a ghastly footprint of our plastics obsession is pretty terrifying. Laura Parker, National Geographic, "Beach cleanups are missing millions of pieces of plastic," 16 May 2019 Napoleon, a shy, surly, solitary boy with a ghastly Corsican accent and floppy spaniel’s sidelocks, was unhappy among the self-confident aristocratic cadets, who teased him about his humble origins. Adam Zamoyski, The New York Review of Books, "An Ordinary Man," 4 Apr. 2019 In a city filled with dark, ghastly tales, few are darker or ghastlier than this one. Mike Scott,, "Watch Jack Osbourne get freaked out by the Lalaurie Mansion," 5 June 2019

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

13 Aug 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

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a period when something is suspended

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