poltergeist

noun pol·ter·geist \ ˈpōl-tər-ˌgīst \
Updated on: 12 Nov 2017

Definition of poltergeist

:a noisy usually mischievous ghost held to be responsible for unexplained noises (such as rappings)

poltergeist was our Word of the Day on 02/19/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of poltergeist in a Sentence

  1. we thought a poltergeist was knocking dishes off the shelves, but it turned out to just be vibrations from passing trains

Recent Examples of poltergeist from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'poltergeist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

One of the tricks a poltergeist is known for is making "knocking" noises, so it will come as no surprise to learn that the word poltergeist translates literally from German as knocking spirit. The German verb poltern means "to knock, and "Geist" is the German word for "spirit." Another "Geist" descendant in English is "zeitgeist" ("the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era"). The English word ghost is also related; it descends from the same ancient root that led to "Geist." Although "ghost" has been used in English since before the 12th century, "poltergeist" is a relative newcomer, first appearing as an English word in the middle of the 19th century.

Origin and Etymology of poltergeist

German, from poltern to knock + Geist spirit


POLTERGEIST Defined for English Language Learners

poltergeist

noun

Definition of poltergeist for English Language Learners

  • : a ghost that makes strange noises and causes objects to move



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