\ 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

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 day of ghosts and superheroes isn’t just a mini-candy day. Roger Showley, The Seattle Times, "Halloween is a year-round celebration at this costume maker," 30 Oct. 2018 The vast costume rental wardrobe, one of the largest collections of vintage clothing in the country, has a three-unit-wide stucco facade airbrushed with murals of ghosts and mythical creatures. New York Times, "Rare Photographs From Inside a Hollywood Costume Archive," 6 June 2018 For many of you, that means finding a replacement for Digg Reader, which went the way of the ghost this month. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "It's Time for an RSS Revival," 30 Mar. 2018 There's definitely been an element of magical mystery on Outlander this season, from Claire seeing a ghost a few episodes back to Adawehi predicting that an upcoming death wouldn't be Claire's fault. Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 6 Biggest Reveals from 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 5," 3 Dec. 2018 William Flannigan/The Republic There's a ghost in a residence hall at Northern Arizona University. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Rooftop pools? Haunted buildings? 8 Arizona university myths debunked, confirmed," 20 June 2018 John Perry Barlow was—and is—too real and too unpredictable to be reanimated by algorithm, a spirit in the system too lifelike to be a ghost in the machine. Jesse Jarnow, WIRED, "The Ghost of John Perry Barlow Lives in His Posthumous Memoir," 5 June 2018 The Raptors needed a fast start, especially after a pair of brutal losses at home, zapping some of their confidence and bringing up questions about seeing ghosts in Cleveland. Chris Fedor,, "Cleveland Cavaliers have frustrated DeMar DeRozan, taken him out of series," 6 May 2018 The almost hour-long homage to the septuagenarian director included ghosts of Scorsese past, present, and future, with speeches and video clips from actors whose careers were, and continue to be, made by the director. Chloe Malle, Vogue, "For He’s a Jolly Goodfella! Celebrating Martin Scorsese at Chanel’s MoMA Film Benefit," 20 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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 \

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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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).


someone who never drinks alcohol

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