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 Although the airlines did not reduce hourly pay rates, the senators argue that cutting the number of hours employees can be paid goes against the spirit of the bill. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Klobuchar being vetted by Biden as running mate," 21 May 2020 The awards honor and affirm the contributions of underrepresented members of the BW community as well as those who contribute to the overall spirit of inclusion. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "College students from Medina County graduate, earn honors," 21 May 2020 The 30-piece collection includes bedding, throw pillows, tableware, linens, barware, rugs, storage, and pet accessories––all inspired by the spirit of adventure. Sunset Magazine, "Airstream x Pottery Barn Are Inspiring Our Summer Road Trips," 20 May 2020 Everyone is encouraged to get into the spirit of the day with patriotic decorations and signs. Dallas News, "From flyovers to tribute bands, weekend events mark Memorial Day in North Texas," 20 May 2020 On Saturday and Sunday, the music will run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by virtual afterparties — in keeping with the spirit of festival tradition, where the action spills out of Hart Plaza into late-night events across Detroit. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "A Detroit tradition goes digital: Movement fest kicks off summer with online techno party," 19 May 2020 This year, in honor of Mother's Day, Italian heritage brand Ferragamo is honoring mothers in a way that is aligned with the spirit of quarantine: With an Instagram Live conversation series. Katie Attardo, Marie Claire, "Carolyn Murphy Is Hosting a Mother's Day Digital Event For Ferragamo," 6 May 2020 What could be more bottom-up, more infused with the spirit of the demos, than individual families making their own individual curricula without a lot of state intrusion? Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Attack on Homeschoolers Is an Attack on American Ideals," 23 Apr. 2020 In addition to fully complying with the spirit and terms of the MOU, TurboTax has donated millions of dollars to promote Free File and other free tax services and has published information about Free File to educate taxpayers. Kristen Doerer, ProPublica, "What Is the New Deadline to File Taxes? A Coronavirus Update.," 13 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But his father was Jewish, and the rise of Hitler put the family in jeopardy; in 1939 his grandmother arranged for him to be sent to England in the Kindertransport program, which spirited thousands of children out of Germany. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Wolf Kahn, Who Painted Vibrant Landscapes, Is Dead at 92," 24 Mar. 2020 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

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

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

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