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

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Synonyms for spirit

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The epidemic’s outcome in the United States may hinge on whether the country can muster a spirit of public generosity and a trust in government transparency, neither of which has been conspicuously present. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, "This Time Really Is Different," 12 Mar. 2020 With Simmons out, that left Embiid to raise the spirits of maybe 15,000 fans at the Wells Fargo Center, a night after the NHL's Flyers hit 19,000 in the same arena. Dan Gelston, Detroit Free Press, "Pistons lose to 76ers, 124-106, in game before NBA suspends season over coronavirus," 12 Mar. 2020 Courtesy of Actors Theatre of Louisville) WHAT: Celebrate the warmth of the holidays with Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future in this delightful take on an old favorite. Savannah Eadens, The Courier-Journal, "Actors Theatre new 2020-21 season includes classics like 'Dracula' and 'Steel Magnolias'," 11 Mar. 2020 Besides, on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and poor and everybody celebrate the festival together with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Nick Jonas Celebrated His First Holi in India with Priyanka Chopra and the Pictures Are Gorgeous," 7 Mar. 2020 Members of the inaugural squad are sending funny GIFs back and forth, in the jovial spirit of the holiday, before (and OK, probably during) school. Danielle Campoamor, Teen Vogue, "The First All-Girls Varsity Wrestling Team in New York Isn't Focused on Making History," 6 Mar. 2020 Let's Encrypt's decision to rapidly revoke them all is in compliance with both the letter and spirit of security regulations. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Let’s Encrypt changes course on certificate revocation," 5 Mar. 2020 Arora, the event's founder, says the forum is about creating a spirit of sistership and erasing stereotypes and prejudices. Abigail Roberts, ABC News, "Women Economic Forum brings 1,500 women business leaders to Egypt," 5 Mar. 2020 North Korea demanded its return, saying the seizure violated the spirit of an agreement between Mr. Kim and President Trump in 2018 to improve relations. Alastair Gale, WSJ, "After Losing Cargo Ship to U.S., North Korea Found Another in Vietnam," 5 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Zharkova engaged in a spirited back-and-forth with Rice that generated more heat than light. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Paper that claimed the Sun caused global warming gets retracted," 6 Mar. 2020 But the forces of Heaven do the lifting, the heavy work, the spiriting away, the catching up of the body in the air. New York Times, "‘Something That May Shock and Discredit You,’ by Daniel Mallory Ortberg: An Excerpt," 11 Feb. 2020 Corrupt magistrates, viewing black people as property without rights, quickly spirited the accused off for sale into slavery. Graham Hodges, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "David Ruggles was a friend to Frederick Douglass, the first full-time black activist and a lead conductor on the Underground Railroad," 14 Feb. 2020 Guaidó two weeks ago defied a government imposed travel ban, spiriting out of Venezuela into Colombia. Washington Post, "Trump skips Miami rally, dashing hopes of Venezuelan opposition leader Guaidó," 1 Feb. 2020 After McDaniels signed off on him, Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis spirited off to Long Island to meet Villari and assess his skill level. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Meet Michigan football's next 'total package' QB, a diamond in the Long Island rough," 12 Jan. 2020 In countywide races the competition for the top cop job looks to be spirited. John Delapp, Houston Chronicle, "Republican primary race for Texas HD 25 a Battle royale," 13 Dec. 2019 The rippling finale came across as infectiously spirited but never breathless. New York Times, "Review: At the Philharmonic, a Major Return Played Safe," 31 Oct. 2019 Some of the comments were spirited as a few residents accused developers of acting only in their own interest. Anna Kim, chicagotribune.com, "After heated public comments, Glenview Plan Commission recommends green light for development at Willow and Pfingsten roads," 15 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of spirit


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1608, 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

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Time Traveler for spirit

Time Traveler

The first known use of spirit was in the 13th century

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Statistics for spirit

Last Updated

18 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spirit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirit. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for spirit


How to pronounce spirit (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spirit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power
: the inner quality or nature of a person
: a person



English Language Learners Definition of spirit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to carry (someone or something) away secretly


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on spirit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spirit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spirit

Spanish Central: Translation of spirit

Nglish: Translation of spirit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spirit for Arabic Speakers

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