\ ˈgōst How to pronounce ghost (audio) \

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
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) : 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then there is the ghost of the 1937 Hindenburg explosion, which hovers over all things hydrogen. New York Times, "The Gospel of Hydrogen Power," 28 Dec. 2020 Charles Dickens wrote a series of ghost stories published yearly at Christmas. Regina Hansen, WSJ, "The Darker Side of Christmas," 19 Dec. 2020 But for Martin, the scene was still a ghost of its former self. Washington Post, "As customers and coastlines disappear, a New Orleans chef fights for her community," 17 Dec. 2020 Even the ghost stories that fill Desert Oracle’s pages and soundbites serve a greater purpose: saving the desert. Jera Brown, Outside Online, "'Desert Oracle' Is a Spooky Look at the Southwest," 14 Dec. 2020 Depending on your point of view, Donald Trump’s presidency either promised or threatened to be a hostile takeover of the Republican Party by the ghost of Pat Buchanan. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Trump as Populist-Nationalist," 12 Nov. 2020 Myrtles Plantation is billed as one of America’s most haunted homes, with ghost stories that date back to the late 1700s. Tarah Chieffi, USA TODAY, "9 real-life haunted houses you can visit across the US – if you dare," 28 Oct. 2020 While ghost stories at Halloween are usually a dime a dozen, this one is worth at least a dollar. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "A spirited October evening with Argyle Winery’s resident ghost," 27 Oct. 2020 Virtual Halloween series: Arizona's theatre community is coming together to tell terrifying ghost stories, perform haunting plays and read scary poetry. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, "Is trick-or-treating canceled in Arizona? Questions answered about Halloween during COVID," 20 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Flavors range from Reposado (which means rested) to ghost pepper. Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune, "Essential Minnesota gift guide: 61 perfect picks while we're all home for the holidays," 27 Nov. 2020 Call them ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens or dark kitchens — basically any kitchen that’s already in motion can be leveraged to power more than one food business. Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune, "'Ghost kitchens' and 'virtual food halls' might be the next frontier in Twin Cities dining," 7 Oct. 2020 Dyson’s shift to ghost kitchens fits the dining climate in the Bay Area. Justin Phillips,, "Oakland staple Souley Vegan is doing a big expansion across California — in ghost kitchens," 7 Aug. 2020 The 26-year-old has been wildly inconsistent since rejoining United for a jaw-dropping £89m in 2016, managing to thrill and excite one week before ghosting through an entire match the next., "Paul Pogba Tops List of Targets for Juventus Coach Maurizio Sarri as Man Utd Exit Edges Closer," 17 June 2019 But of late, the self that has been ghosting the glass in front of me is not a man with pecs and purpose, nor even a man with, say, a bit of hair and decent knees. Christian Wiman, New York Times, "Letter of Recommendation: Gyms," 18 Mar. 2020 Over the past couple weeks, regulars have canceled, one even ghosted on a dinner date and serious inquiries have all dried up. Ryan Kost,, "‘You can hear birds’: Bay Area grows quiet as the coronavirus spreads," 12 Mar. 2020 Which is why clean mascaras have a bad reputation of ghosting before the day is done. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Saie is the Clean Makeup Brand You're About to See Everywhere," 7 Nov. 2019 Whereas texting or Instagram DMing proceeds as a kind of ambient chatter with no clear start or stop point—allowing all sorts of innovative new forms of passive-aggression, chief among them ghosting—a phone call is simple. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "Only Telephones Are Good," 4 Feb. 2020

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

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

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Statistics for ghost

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ghost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for ghost


How to pronounce ghost (audio)

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 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

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Comments on ghost

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