\ˈgōst \

Definition of ghost 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the seat of life or intelligence : soul give up the ghost

2 : a disembodied soul especially : the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in bodily likeness

3 : spirit, demon

4a : a faint shadowy trace a ghost of a smile

b : the least bit not a ghost of a chance

5 : a false image in a photographic negative or on a television screen caused especially by reflection

6 : one who ghostwrites

7 : a red blood cell that has lost its hemoglobin


ghosted; ghosting; ghosts

Definition of ghost (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to haunt like a ghost

2 : ghostwrite ghosted the mayor's autobiography

3 informal : to abruptly cut off all contact with (someone, such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc. No one wants to be ghosted, mostly because it sucks to admit that the person you gushed about last week is now pretending you don't exist …— Ellen Scott

intransitive verb

1a : to move silently like a ghost

b : to sail quietly in light winds

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Other Words from ghost


ghostlike \ ˈgōst-​ˌlīk \ adjective
ghosty \ ˈgō-​stē \ adjective

Synonyms for ghost

Synonyms: Noun

cacodemon, demon (or daemon), devil, fiend, ghoul, ghoulie, imp, shaitan

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Examples of ghost in a Sentence


a house haunted by ghosts looked for ghosts in the graveyard on Halloween


She ghosted the mayor's autobiography.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The shadows of these past lovers sit around our relationships like a cast of ghosts, each one waiting to be called forward to provide precedent for our emotional reactions. Neda Semnani,, "You have more in common with your partner's exes than you might think," 16 May 2018 Now the United States and Iran are on an ever more dangerous trajectory that could create a new generation of ghosts. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "The End of the Iran Deal and Trump’s New, Confrontational Foreign Policy," 13 May 2018 Lake County is a great place to experience the presence of ghosts no matter what time of year, according to paranormal investigator Ursula Bielski. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Lake County tour takes ghost seekers to find paranormal activity," 4 May 2018 Speaking of ghosts, Man v. Food is headed to the Jersey Shore this month and host Casey Webb is taking on some scary challenges. Aubrey Nagle,, "Toxins found in sick Philly schools, Garces files for bankruptcy | Morning Newsletter," 3 May 2018 But there are plenty of other ghosts to go around, which is why the hotel frequently pops up on paranormal television shows. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Best hotels in Bisbee, AZ: From plush to retro-kitsch to maybe haunted," 20 Apr. 2018 Speaking of ghosts, the Belasco Theatre is said to be haunted. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Meet Iestyn Davies, Broadway's New Favorite Singer," 27 Dec. 2017 The result was a grid array of sensors spread across a cubic kilometer of glacier and capable of catching a ghost. Author: Sarah Kaplan, Anchorage Daily News, "In a cosmic first, scientists detect ‘ghost particles’ from a distant galaxy," 12 July 2018 Local lore suggested the Whistling Oyster’s 18th-century building had a ghost. Jacques Kelly,, "Cassandra 'Sandy' Christian, bartender at the Whistling Oyster, dies," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sterling's ability to move around the park so quickly means Kane does not have to focus on retrieving the ball so much or hurrying down defenders, giving him the ability to ghost into space more easily., "Why England Supporters Are Wrong to Call for Raheem Sterling to Be Dropped for Croatia WC Semi Final," 11 July 2018 For example, the ex who was the jilted partner might be afraid the other person is going to leave again—and abandonment is even more common in the digital age, where people ghost frequently. Jenna Birch,, "You've Already Broken Up Once—Here’s How to Know if the Relationship Can Really Work," 10 July 2018 These rumors were followed by reports that Drake broke up with Bella by ghosting her. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bella Hadid Just Responded to Those Drake Dating Rumors," 30 June 2018 Guys ask me why a woman ghosted them, and women ask me if their boyfriend is secretly gay. Dan Savage, Chicago Reader, "Can a straight guy ethically accept oral sex from his gay buddy?," 20 June 2018 According to Roth, job seekers see it as retribution for all the times potential employers ghosted them. CBS News, "The job market is apparently so hot people are ghosting potential employers," 11 July 2018 Christian Eriksen's stunning early goal set the wheels in motion, the midfielder ghosting in to fire past David de Gea after just 11 seconds, scoring the third fastest goal in Premier League history in the process., "Tottenham Scores 11 Seconds in, Eases By Manchester United at Wembley," 31 Jan. 2018 Does Vinaite’s real-life ghosting method sound mean? Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "The Florida Project’s Bria Vinaite Explains the Art of Ghosting IRL," 7 Jan. 2018 Speaking of hotkeys and lighting, the anti-ghosting membrane keyboard is RGB backlit with four lighting zones supporting up to 16.8 million colors. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "The Acer Predator Helios 500 is a gaming laptop that's overclockable in all the right places," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ghost.' 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 ghost


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1606, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for ghost


Middle English gost, gast, from Old English gāst; akin to Old High German geist spirit, Sanskrit heḍa anger


see ghost entry 1

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More Definitions for ghost



English Language Learners Definition of ghost

: the soul of a dead person thought of as living in an unseen world or as appearing to living people

: a very small amount or trace


\ˈgōst \

Kids Definition of ghost

: the spirit of a dead person thought of as living in an unseen world or as appearing to living people


\ˈgōst \

Medical Definition of ghost 

: a structure (as a cell or tissue) that does not stain normally because of degenerative changes specifically : a red blood cell that has lost its hemoglobin

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Comments on ghost

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


full of whispering sounds

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