ghoulish

adjective
ghoul·​ish | \ ˈgü-lish How to pronounce ghoulish (audio) \

Definition of ghoulish

1 : resembling, suggesting, or appropriate to a ghoul a ghoulish appearance I knew not at what moment I might plunge headlong into some terrible pit or meet with some of the ghoulish creatures that inhabit these lower worlds …— Edgar Rice Burroughs Many of their sculptures depict the ghoulish spirits … and their paternal leader, Baron Samedi, the lord of death, decay and grotesque eroticism.— Holland Cotter
2 : relating to, dealing with, or morbidly delighting in things considered shocking or gruesome ghoulish thoughts ghoulish humor … the grieving family asked for his help in a rather ghoulish affair.— Behn Cervantes … his photographs present the aftermath of battles somewhat in the manner of ghoulish still lifes …— Naomi Rosenblum Annie was a fine, strapping girl, and was evidently labouring under intense excitement, mingled with a certain ghoulish enjoyment of the tragedy.— Agatha Christie … he offers the reader a deliciously ghoulish potted history of absurd burial techniques.— Lawrence Osborne

Other Words from ghoulish

ghoulishly adverb
laughing ghoulishly Lurid, violent, … morbidly sentimental and ghoulishly capricious, this is the kind of painting which grabs the modern imagination for the most dubious of reasons. — Jonathan Keates
ghoulishness noun
… a zany cross between wild farce and macabre ghoulishness — John Percival

First Known Use of ghoulish

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ghoulish

Time Traveler for ghoulish

Time Traveler

The first known use of ghoulish was in 1835

See more words from the same year

Statistics for ghoulish

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ghoulish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghoulish. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on ghoulish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ghoulish

Nglish: Translation of ghoulish for Spanish Speakers

Comments on ghoulish

What made you want to look up ghoulish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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