\ ˈgōst How to pronounce ghost (audio) \
plural ghosts

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 cut off all contact with (someone) abruptly and usually without explanation : to subject (someone, such as a former romantic partner) to ghosting — see ghosting sense 2 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

Other Words from ghost


ghostlike \ ˈgōst-​ˌlīk How to pronounce ghost (audio) \ adjective
ghosty \ ˈgō-​stē How to pronounce ghost (audio) \ adjective

Examples of ghost in a Sentence

Noun a house haunted by ghosts looked for ghosts in the graveyard on Halloween Verb She ghosted the mayor's autobiography.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun San Jose follows other California cities that have banned ghost guns, including San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Bynadine El-bawab, ABC News, 11 May 2022 District authorities recovered 25 ghost guns in 2018, 116 in 2019, 282 in 2020 and 313 in 2021, according to NBC 4 Washington. Fox News, 4 May 2022 The council also gave final approval to its ordinance prohibiting possession, purchase and sale of non-serialized untraceable firearms (ghost guns). Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 May 2022 Walker talked about legislation that bans the sale and possession of ghost guns – weapons often made on 3D printers and don’t have a traceable serial number. Elizabeth Owens-schiele, Chicago Tribune, 26 Apr. 2022 Increasingly, ghost guns are showing up in crime scenes. Noah Robertson, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Apr. 2022 So far in 2022, police in New Haven have seized 10 ghost guns off the streets. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 19 Apr. 2022 News segment Weekend Update took on the issue of ghost guns, firearms that can be made almost entirely with a 3D printer. NBC News, 17 Apr. 2022 In California over the past 18 months, police officials said, ghost guns accounted for 25 to 50 percent of firearms found at crime scenes. The Week Staff, The Week, 17 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These friends, finally, were wrong to ghost you instead of having the courage to approach your wife, kindly and discreetly. Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2022 Your initial instinct for ending a casual relationship might be to ghost them. Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2022 Janine Ilsley, an integrative therapist and licensed master social worker, says people ghost for a variety of reasons. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 5 Feb. 2022 That launch event is currently scheduled for February 8, assuming Samsung doesn't ghost everyone again. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, 11 Jan. 2022 The pandemic gave rise to ghost kitchens, the poetic name for restaurants that exist only for takeout and delivery. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, 23 Dec. 2021 To help ghost hunters achieve their goals, Travelocity shared seven of its most haunted U.S. hotels with Travel + Leisure. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 19 Oct. 2021 The city of New Orleans is no stranger to ghost stories. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, 17 Oct. 2021 If things aren’t working out, don’t ghost your therapist. Brittany Risher, SELF, 5 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of ghost


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


circa 1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for ghost

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for ghost

Time Traveler

The first known use of ghost was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near ghost



ghost crab

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Statistics for ghost

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ghost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ghost


\ ˈgōst How to pronounce ghost (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ghost (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on ghost

Nglish: Translation of ghost for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ghost for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ghost


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