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haunt·​ing ˈhȯn-tiŋ How to pronounce haunting (audio)
plural hauntings
: an act of haunting
especially : visitation or inhabitation by a ghost
… its early history is replete with drama: duels, murders, shipwrecks, … even ghostly hauntings. Sally Gibson
When asked about hauntings on Tuesday's tour, [Albert] Walavich said he knew he would get a question about ghosts on Halloween, but he doesn't believe any haunt the grounds. Taylor Hartz


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: having qualities (such as sadness or beauty) that linger in the memory : not easily forgotten
a haunting melody
haunting images
… pale, branchless tree trunks with a haunting, Georgia O'Keeffe quality …Susannah Master


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present participle of haunt entry 1

Examples of haunting in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
In New York, after Yankee stadium was deserted, the ghosts and legends of The House that Ruth Built had only to look out for traffic, then float across the street to get back to their haunting. Ellen Murphy, Kansas City Star, 25 Mar. 2024 The killing of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on an Orange County freeway is a haunting and cautionary tale. Robin Abcarian, The Mercury News, 1 Feb. 2024 The tactic obliges viewers to lean forward and intuit meaning from Smith’s haunting, hypnotic sermons on death as they’re forced to exist in close proximity to actual death and destruction. Siddhant Adlakha, Variety, 16 Feb. 2024 These haunting sounds prompt a reflection on our collective responsibility to the Earth, turning the art installation into a poignant environmental commentary. Shelby Knick, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024 Some 15 years later, Merry faces her family’s haunting past when a journalist is assigned to help tell her side of the story and uncovers the very nature of evil. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 For many years, the American artist has been examining the Golden Record in films, sculptures and works on paper that are hilarious, haunting and brilliantly inventive. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Alfredson conjures an icy, sinister tone in this budding friendship based on retribution, and its combination of vampiric and coming-of-age aesthetics allows for a haunting and emotional approach to a familiar scenario. Nicholas Bell, SPIN, 14 Feb. 2024 The reinvention still follows the familiar beats of Scrooge's Christmas haunting: Three ghosts, each representing Christmas past (Andy Serkis), present (Charlotte Riley), and future (Jason Flemyng) show the miserly businessman the error of his ways. Andrew Walsh, EW.com, 12 Dec. 2023
Now searching for a new owner: Downtown Los Angeles high-rise rich in colorful anecdotes from its history, albeit most quite haunting. Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2024 One of the most haunting parts of that book was about the failure of the European allies, particularly France and Great Britain to face Hitler when stopping him would have been relatively easy. TIME, 2 Feb. 2024 Taken in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb where the Russian army murdered civilians, the photo quickly became one of the most haunting and defining images of the war — capturing the horror, the senselessness, and the reality of it all in a single shot. Sophia Panych, Allure, 22 Feb. 2024 But the film has a haunted and haunting dimension linked to the music and the mood. Ben Croll, Variety, 18 Feb. 2024 Like so much of the play, the energy of the place is haunting and familiar, even while purposefully nonspecific. Vulture, 2 Feb. 2024 The Wicker Man boasts a conclusion that is one of the most haunting and disturbing climaxes to a horror film in any era, but the inclusion of Lee as the wicked Lord Summerisle is a casting coup. EW.com, 16 Oct. 2023 While Goyo has been at the forefront of the Latin hip-hop movement, this song is a slight departure from her signature bright and uplifting anthems, edgier with an almost haunting vibe. Jessica Roiz, Billboard, 23 Feb. 2024 The performances are haunting, the set decoration pristine, and the tension rapidly rising. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 22 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'haunting.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, "frequenting a place, dwelling place," from haunten "to frequent, haunt entry 1" + -ing -ing entry 1


from present participle of haunt entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1823, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of haunting was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near haunting

Cite this Entry

“Haunting.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haunting. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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