\ 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
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) : 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 ghostlike (audio) \ adjective
ghosty \ ˈgō-​stē How to pronounce ghosty (audio) \ adjective

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 first trailer hints that as the characters grapple with the fallout of what appears to be a kidnapping, Ali’s character will be forced to deal with literal ghosts from his past. Karen Han, Vox, "True Detective season 3 premieres January 13. Here’s everything we know so far.," 12 Oct. 2018 Archie’s visited by the deeply annoying ghosts of Cassidy and his pals along with Warden Norton, who persuades him to play a round of Griffins & Gargoyles, because why not, y’know? Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Riverdale Just Came Dangerously Close to Killing Archie," 17 Jan. 2019 That the nominee revealed he is still haunted by the ghost of the Clintons was disturbing — and an extremely effective rallying cry to an aggrieved right. Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times, "The mask slips: Now we know what Supreme Court fight is really about," 29 Sep. 2018 Oh, and the couple also claim the house is haunted (by two ghosts) and are annoyed they weren't told about that either. Shannon Barbour, Cosmopolitan, "The Couple Who Bought the 'American Horror Story' Murder House Are, Wait For It, Living a Horror Story of Their Own," 14 Feb. 2018 Though it isn't noted in their legal complaint, their lawyer Doug Vanderpool tells The Real Deal that, in addition to earthly vandals, the home is also haunted by two ghosts. Becca Endicott, ELLE Decor, "Buyers Of The 'American Horror Story' House Say It's Really Haunted And Are Suing Brokers," 13 Feb. 2018 In some ways Lagerfeld was ever walking a tightrope between past and present (especially at Chanel, where the ghost of Coco is ever present, fractured into bits of light by the atelier’s famous mirrored staircase). Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "A Celebration of Karl Lagerfeld’s Work in Vogue," 19 Feb. 2019 But the ghosts were able to manifest themselves to anyone living in the house. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "American Horror Story: Apocalypse was somehow both absolutely nuts and largely forgettable," 18 Nov. 2018 People think the ghost is Charles Pfister, the hotel's founder. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dear Mr. President, did you know the Milwaukee hotel where you're staying might be haunted?," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Being ghosted or receiving non-committal responses without concrete plans to set up another date is another sure sign of disinterest. The Editors, Marie Claire, "8 Signs Your Date Is Totally Into You," 15 Aug. 2017 Who among us hasn’t ghosted from a rhythmic volley of text messages with no explanation? Michael Andor Brodeur,, "5 (pretty easy) steps to improve civility online," 6 July 2018 Who among us hasn't consoled a friend who was ghosted by saying that her crush is potentially a serial killer? Danielle Mcnally, Marie Claire, "We Showed 'You've Got Mail' to Our Gen-Z Coworkers and Now Feel Very Old," 1 Aug. 2018 In the show's season three finale, the character that Sampson plays, Nathan, returns to town after having ghosted Issa (Issa Rae) earlier in the season. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "‘Insecure’ Star Kendrick Sampson Talks About Ghosting and Going to Therapy," 2 Oct. 2018 When someone ghosts you, they are gone — but ghosting might be more accurately used for a situation in which someone is no longer physically present, but their presence is still felt. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, ""Orbiting" Is the New Breakup Habit That's Worse Than Ghosting," 11 Dec. 2018 At the time, my job search was at an impasse, my writing projects were in limbo, and another man had just ghosted me. Matt Ortile, SELF, "Whenever My Life Feels Out of Control, I Go to Ballet Class," 16 Aug. 2018 Despite being the sign of relationships (since they are represented by the scales), Libras can be a bit selfish in their dating and are prone to ghosting. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Online Dating Style," 6 July 2018 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

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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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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on ghost

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ghost

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ghost

Spanish Central: Translation of ghost

Nglish: Translation of ghost for Spanish Speakers

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

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 sum of money that is sent as a payment

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