spir·it | \ ˈspir-ət \

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

b : soul sense 2a

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for spirit

Synonyms: Noun

alcohol, drink, inebriant, intoxicant, liquor, moonshine

Antonyms: 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


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.


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

Set at 75%, this smooth drinking spirit is no laughing matter. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Liquor company slammed for releasing 'Novichok' vodka named after deadly nerve agent," 10 July 2018 And in that spirit, there's a spate of new time-release formulas fit for skin types prone to redness or breakouts. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "A Beginner's Guide to Retinol—Here's Everything You Need to Know," 12 July 2018 But their spirits were high, and the rescue team brought them nutritional gels to slowly build their strength. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "How 100 heroes came together to rescue 12 boys and their coach from the Thailand cave," 11 July 2018 Mud, the son, does an admirable job capturing that spirit. John Adamian, courant.com, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018 But where that spirit comes from is a story is wedged into the dark corners of South Africa’s recent history. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "South Africa's unlikely ultramarathoner helps others cross the finish line," 6 July 2018 That active spirit might actually come in handy with a new baby, though. Jen Juneau, PEOPLE.com, "Bachelor Nation's Chris and Peyton Lambton Expecting Second Child Naturally After IVF," 3 July 2018 In that spirit, a language may have identified a phenomenon which our own tongue has overlooked for some reason. Tim Lomas, BostonGlobe.com, "1,000 words for happiness," 1 July 2018 CovCath athletes and administrators plan to keep that spirit alive and not rest on their laurels after a school year that will live on in the record books and the banners in the gymnasium. James Weber, Cincinnati.com, "Covington Catholic athletic director reflects on historic year of 2 state titles,," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ariana Grande’s face has been spirited in from some anodyne TV interview. Michael Andor Brodeur, BostonGlobe.com, "The looming cloud of ‘deepfake’ videos, and the silver lining," 19 Apr. 2018 Finished in gilded strappy sandals, the new mom's stems skewed entirely toned, likely a result of running after her dog Finn or her baby girl with husband Thomas Sadoski, as well as Mamma Mia!'s spirited, smile-inducing choreography. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Amanda Seyfried Steps Out With a Dramatic Leg Reveal Worthy of a Dancing Queen," 12 July 2018 Children see their mom or dad suddenly subjected to force, shoved out of cars, handcuffed and then simply spirited away. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Another Glimpse of State Terror in Trump’s America," 8 June 2018 Human traffickers charge people $7,000 to spirit them from Honduras across the U.S. border.. The caravan was essentially free. Jim Wyss And Brenda Medina, miamiherald, "Honduran man separated from son at U.S. border 2 months ago fears he 'lost everything'," 5 July 2018 He and Delia hid from the police in a series of comradely households, moving frequently until Neruda was spirited to Patagonia. Benjamin Kunkel, The New Republic, "The partisan world of Pablo Neruda," 2 July 2018 Paramedics spirited her to a nearby hospital, where doctors determined that she was severely dehydrated; at 90/60, her blood pressure was worrisomely low. Sandra G. Boodman, Washington Post, "Her doctor said she had the flu. It took years to find the real, and strange, illness.," 23 June 2018 However, spiriting away large quantities of analog data that is not connected to the Internet would be far more difficult. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "In seconds, we faked our way into a political campaign, got unsecured voter data," 5 June 2018 Patriotic, inviting, and spirited, Boston is truly one-of-a-kind. Jessi Walker, Marie Claire, "Weekend Travel Guide: Where to Stay, Eat and Drink in Boston," 22 May 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spirit

Statistics for spirit

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spirit

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spirit



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 \

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spirit

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


a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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