\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

The following people — who’ve bared their souls, stories and life lessons on Reddit — can certainly relate to the shock that comes after an ex gets engaged in record time. Grace Gavilanes, ajc, "Real people whose exes moved on really quickly share their side of the story," 13 July 2018 In 2001, President George W. Bush famously looked Putin in the eye and saw his soul. Bill Browder, Time, "I've Been Putin's Number One Foreign Enemy for a Decade. Here's What Trump Should Know About Handling Him," 12 July 2018 The following people — who’ve bared their souls, stories and life lessons on Reddit — can certainly relate to the shock that comes after an ex gets engaged in record time. Grace Gavilanes,, "Real People Whose Exes Moved on Really Quickly Share Their Side of the Story," 11 July 2018 The album rates with McDonald’s best work as a solo artist, fitting comfortably in his soul/R&B/pop wheelhouse. Alan Sculley, sacbee, "Michael McDonald finding his way to coolness in reboot, plays Crest tonight," 10 July 2018 While the rest of America struggles and questions and searches its soul, the White House communications shop sends out talking points casting doubt on the women who came forward to share their stories about Roy Moore. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "When the White House Is a Safe Space," 6 July 2018 But just in the last week, things got a little bit better, and President Obama bore his soul and sang Amazing Grace in front of a nation to punctuate what has otherwise been an awful year. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "A List of the 101 Most American Things in 'Murica," 2 July 2018 Happy Birthday to one of my favorite souls on this planet! Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Here's the First Photo of Kim and Khloé's Baby Girls, Chicago and True, Together," 27 June 2018 And so perhaps everyone can become pearls like Ferdinand’s father, embedding their souls in an immortal orb. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Puzzled by Westworld? Look to Shakespeare.," 26 June 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

17 Oct 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).


to reject or criticize sharply

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