\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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Referencing the Catholic belief that unburied souls can’t enter heaven, the play casts the ghosts of national Irish heroes — including heroes who are dying at that very moment — as walking among the living, still restless and agitating for change. Aja Romano, Vox, "The Olivier-winning play from Jez Butterworth juggles 21 actors, a baby, and a goose — with a dark strain of Irish nationalism.," 3 Nov. 2018 The timing of the celebration reflects its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when ghosts of the dead were believed to return and walk the Earth at the end of the harvest and on the cusp of winter, as the History Channel explains. Isaac Stanley-becker, The Seattle Times, "The Saturday Halloween Movement: A petition beseeches Trump to reschedule the spooky celebration," 26 Oct. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Thankfully, ghosting only lasted about three to five seconds after the panel refreshed. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Lenovo Yoga Book 2018 review: The keyless keyboard returns, now in E Ink," 2 Nov. 2018 Dry eye essentially means the tear film that keeps your eyes wet isn’t plentiful enough, isn’t the right composition, or ghosts your eyeballs by evaporating too quickly, the National Eye Institute explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is It Terrible to Wear the Same Contact Lenses for a Long, Long Time?," 19 Oct. 2018 And one person found a particularly useful idea for the costume by sending it to the person that’s actually ghosting them. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Party City Is Selling a "Ghosted" Halloween Costume," 23 Sep. 2018 The keyboard also has full n-key rollover to make sure each keypress is detected independently, avoiding misinterpretation by the computer, as well as anti-ghosting technology. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Upgrade to a water-resistant mechanical keyboard for just $26 today," 6 Sep. 2018 The entirety of the system seems to be devoted to the quelling, vanishing and otherwise ghosting of engine shake and shivering caused by the stop/start function (the engine shuts off at stops and refires to move off again). Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS: A Move Toward Electrification," 3 Aug. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a trusted follower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!