spir·​it | \ ˈspir-ət How to pronounce spirit (audio) \

Definition of spirit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms
2 : a supernatural being or essence: such as
a capitalized : holy spirit
c : an often malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible specifically : ghost sense 2
d : a malevolent being that enters and possesses a human being
3 : temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated in high spirits
4 : the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person
5a : the activating or essential principle influencing a person acted in a spirit of helpfulness
b : an inclination, impulse, or tendency of a specified kind : mood
6a : a special attitude or frame of mind the money-making spirit was for a time driven back— J. A. Froude
b : the feeling, quality, or disposition characterizing something undertaken in a spirit of fun
7 : a lively or brisk quality in a person or a person's actions
8 : a person having a character or disposition of a specified nature
9 : a mental disposition characterized by firmness or assertiveness denied the charge with spirit
10a : distillate sense 1: such as
(1) : the liquid containing ethanol and water that is distilled from an alcoholic liquid or mash often used in plural
(2) : any of various volatile liquids obtained by distillation or cracking (as of petroleum, shale, or wood) often used in plural
b : a usually volatile organic solvent (such as an alcohol, ester, or hydrocarbon)
11a : prevailing tone or tendency spirit of the age
b : general intent or real meaning spirit of the law
12 : an alcoholic solution of a volatile substance spirit of camphor
13 : enthusiastic loyalty school spirit
14 capitalized, Christian Science : god sense 1b


spirited; spiriting; spirits

Definition of spirit (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to infuse with spirit especially : animate hope and apprehension of feasibleness spirits all industry — John Goodman
2 : to carry off usually secretly or mysteriously was hustled into a … motorcar and spirited off to the country— W. L. Shirer

Synonyms for spirit

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for spirit


courage, mettle, spirit, resolution, tenacity mean mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. the courage to support unpopular causes mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience. a challenge that will test your mettle spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one's own or keep up one's morale when opposed or threatened. her spirit was unbroken by failure resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one's ends. the resolution of pioneer women tenacity adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat. held to their beliefs with great tenacity

Examples of spirit in a Sentence

Noun the spirits of my ancestors Some religions believe that the same spirit is reincarnated many times in different bodies. Yoga is very healthy for both body and spirit. We will all miss her generous spirit. My father was a proud spirit. Verb The singer was spirited away in a limousine after the show. Some of the funds had been spirited away to other accounts. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun More examples of his business acumen. Show his pioneering spirit. Jonathan Dee, Harper’s Magazine , 25 May 2022 Although Earley is still in quite a bit of physical pain, his spirit remains unbroken, his mom said. Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune, 23 May 2022 But the turn of the last century was an era of rapid advancement in science, technology and medicine, and Holmes embodied its spirit. Roy Schwartz, CNN, 20 May 2022 Relationships of dependency often involve a trace of resentment; even as our spirit humbly bows with gratitude, our yearning for autonomy may shake a prideful fist. New York Times, 20 May 2022 Decades ago, one Halloween night, Windsor disappeared without a trace and ever since his cursed spirit is said to haunt the town each year on October 31 for one hour. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 20 May 2022 The Dirty Shirley is built in the same way as the fluorescent cherry soda drink giddily enjoyed by children, mixing grenadine with lemon-lime soda (like Sprite or 7Up) — known as the Shirley Temple — then spiked with your preferred spirit. Jillian Dara, Forbes, 18 May 2022 Her spirit will be there with you all, while training and on every race day. Frederick Dreier, Outside Online, 16 May 2022 Spring is a great time to allow your spirit to take flight. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 16 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Within days of the war erupting, Moldovan officials said, Moldovan gangs posted advertisements on Telegram, a popular messaging service in Eastern Europe, offering to arrange cars, even minibuses, to spirit out draft dodgers. New York Times, 10 Apr. 2022 Poland has established a logistics center to collect much of the assistance and spirit it over the border, two E.U. policymakers said. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 When the door burst open and several people rush in, grab her, and forcefully spirit her into their van. Erik Kain, Forbes, 18 Jan. 2022 Its operations stretch across Syria, including workshops that manufacture the pills, packing plants where they are concealed for export and smuggling networks to spirit them to markets abroad. New York Times, 5 Dec. 2021 Seems like those ghosts don’t get much of a chance to spirit away an everyday car. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 In that case, presumably, the thief that has broken into a self-driving car could try to verbally instruct the AI driving system to spirit away with the car. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 Investigators determined that an ill Pfeiffer had visited a doctor on the night of Thursday, February 6, then hired a carriage to spirit him away to his family’s sprawling Colonial farmhouse in Bedford. BostonGlobe.com, 14 Oct. 2021 Erik Prince, founder of the military contractor once known as Blackwater, offered to carry out a clandestine operation to spirit Mr. Khalili out of Afghanistan. Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of spirit


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spirit


Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, espirit, spirit, from Latin spiritus, literally, breath, from spirare to blow, breathe

Learn More About spirit

Time Traveler for spirit

Time Traveler

The first known use of spirit was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near spirit



Spirit baptism

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for spirit

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spirit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirit. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for spirit


spir·​it | \ ˈspir-ət How to pronounce spirit (audio) \

Kids Definition of spirit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : mood entry 1 I'm in good spirits today.
2 : a being (as a ghost) whose existence cannot be explained
3 : a lively or brisk quality They sang with spirit.
4 : a force within a human being thought to give the body life, energy, and power : soul
5 : an attitude or feeling It was said in a spirit of fun.
6 : person sense 1 She was a bold spirit.
7 : an alcoholic liquor usually used in pl.
8 capitalized : God in the form of a spirit in Christianity
9 spirits plural : a solution in alcohol spirits of camphor
10 : real meaning or intention the spirit of the law

Other Words from spirit

spiritless \ -​ləs \ adjective


spirited; spiriting

Kids Definition of spirit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to carry off secretly or mysteriously The jewels were spirited out of the country.


spir·​it | \ ˈspir-ət How to pronounce spirit (audio) \

Medical Definition of spirit

1a : distillate especially : the liquid containing ethyl alcohol and water that is distilled from an alcoholic liquid or mash often used in plural
b : a usually volatile organic solvent (as an alcohol, ester, or hydrocarbon)
2 : an alcoholic solution of a volatile substance spirit of camphor

More from Merriam-Webster on spirit

Nglish: Translation of spirit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spirit for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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