\ ˈsōl \

Definition of soul 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2a : the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe

b capitalized, Christian Science : god sense 1b

3 : a person's total self

4a : an active or essential part

b : a moving spirit : leader

5a : the moral and emotional nature of human beings

b : the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment

c : spiritual or moral force : fervor

6 : person not a soul in sight

7 : personification she is the soul of integrity

8a : a strong positive feeling (as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor) conveyed especially by African American performers

b : cultural consciousness and pride among people of African heritage

c : soul music

d : soul food

e : soul brother



Definition of soul (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of black Americans or their culture

2 : designed for or controlled by blacks

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Examples of soul in a Sentence


the souls of the dead He could not escape the guilt that he felt in the inner recesses of his soul. Some poor soul was asking for handouts on the street. a village of barely a hundred souls
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Christ guard my delicate soul from having to narrate fake cunnilingus in real-time, first-person present tense. Max Maller, Chicago Reader, "Firefly Love fails as both a play and a play-by-play," 6 July 2018 Mancini took that challenge to a macro level in Cult of Chucky, which saw the killer able to split his soul between multiple host bodies, setting up for a Chucky universe with various dolls on the prowl. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "What Could Be Lost with a 'Child's Play' Remake," 5 July 2018 Happy Birthday to one of my favorite souls on this planet! Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Khloé Kardashian Has Reportedly Been Hiding Her Ring Finger in Photos," 28 June 2018 So Senator Warner just talked about American companies selling their souls in China. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full video and transcript: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky at Code 2018," 31 May 2018 Both said the recent spate of school shootings had forced them to do some soul-searching. Mike Ward, San Antonio Express-News, "Abbott on narrow path to school safety," 31 May 2018 In each episode, five empathetic and loving experts enter the life of some wayward soul and solve all their problems. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "9 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Can Binge to Escape Reality," 13 July 2018 The true artistic endeavor is breaking through to beautiful new worlds and to deeper realities — of achieving a fusion of heart and mind, of understanding the soul and its workings. Joshua Zucker,, "John Zorn and Bill Laswell make rare duo appearance at the Chapel," 11 July 2018 Herein lies the struggle for the soul of America, the inherent conflict between policy and poetry; between the national interest and the national narrative. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "However polarized our politics seem, America has made it through worse," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Learn soul line-dances choreographed to R&B, jazz, gospel and Latin tunes. Linda Mcintosh,, "Woman of the Year awards given," 9 July 2018 Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh threw for nine touchdowns and was named the game's MVP., "Digest (Aug. 12): Soul stops Brigade in playoff opener," 13 Aug. 2017 Harper’s Cabin Learn about the history, nutrition and culture of African American foods, and about how soul food became important to African American families, their churches and social gatherings. Washington Post, "Montgomery County community calendar July 27-Aug. 3, 2017," 26 July 2017 Among its fans is soul artist Jimmy Levy of Miami, who was encouraged by his manager to try RecordGram, Mendelson said. Nancy Dahlberg, miamiherald, "This Miami music startup brings a recording studio to your phone," 23 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'soul.' 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 soul


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1958, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for soul


Middle English soule, from Old English sāwol; akin to Old High German sēula soul

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Statistics for soul

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for soul

The first known use of soul was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for soul



English Language Learners Definition of soul

: the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever

: a person's deeply felt moral and emotional nature

: the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.


\ ˈsōl \

Kids Definition of soul

1 : the spiritual part of a person believed to give life to the body

2 : the essential or most important part of something This room is the soul of the house.

3 : a person who leads or stirs others to action : leader He was the soul of the campaign.

4 : a person's moral and emotional nature I felt my soul rebel against the injustice.

5 : human being : person a kind soul

6 : a style of music expressing deep emotion that was created by African-Americans

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Comments on soul

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


a magnificent or impressive array

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