\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

demon (or daemon), devil, fiend, ghoul, imp

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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

It is haunted by ghosts, even if its more pious residents wouldn’t put it that way. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "What two fictional Gileads can teach us about America in 2018," 12 July 2018 World's Ugliest Dog, Zsa Zsa the English bulldog, dies weeks after winning title. 'Haunting' faces of 'ghosts' reappear in world's oldest photos. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Anti-Trump FBI lovebird defies subpoena; Trump slams 'inappropriate' Russia deal at NATO summit," 11 July 2018 And yes there are now ghost, koala, tiger, and T. rex Animojis. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Apple launches iOS 12 public beta: How it will change your iPhone and iPad," 25 June 2018 The selections do feature ghosts, zombies and a church with a giant mouth at its center, after all. Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle, "Science fiction and fantasy books: ‘Belly Up,’ ‘What Should Be Wild,’ ‘84K’," 7 June 2018 For now, Robert Ford lives on only as a digital ghost, albeit one that can transfer from computer bank to host head. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Westworld: Strike the Match," 3 June 2018 One day the boy encounters a white horse, its mane and tail shining like silk, that identifies itself as his mother's ghost, and Trnka zooms in slowly on its deep dark eye as the mother addresses her son in voice-over. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Animator Jiří Trnka created magical worlds amid stifling communist censorship," 31 May 2018 Children Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode begin to investigate their new surroundings and discover that the house is littered with a number of special keys, each of which grant their users special abilities, from turning into ghosts, animals, and more. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Joe Hill’s Locke and Key series may have finally found a home at Netflix," 30 May 2018 The sailors of the Erebus and Terror are haunted by visions, ghosts, and warnings. Eva Holland, Outside Online, "'The Terror' Is a Gory Take on an Arctic Mystery," 22 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Though that’s surely no consolation to the ghosted. Aubrey Nagle,, "Toxins found in sick Philly schools, Garces files for bankruptcy | Morning Newsletter," 3 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).


one that holds something together

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