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

Keep scrolling for more

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 And that volunteer spirit goes well beyond trail work! baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Mount Airy election: Mayoral, Town Council candidates offer answers," 29 Apr. 2021 Through it all, Shock G kept that spirit of intellectual hedonism and musical experimentation. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, "A Tribute to Shock G, Hip-Hop’s Freest Spirit," 23 Apr. 2021 That spirit of protest lives on today in that same space, although thankfully in a more peaceful form. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "With AT&T’s $100 million Discovery District, Dallas gets a mini Times Square," 21 Apr. 2021 After the legendary Adelson’s death at age 87 in January from complications related to treatment for lymphoma, Goldstein – now chairman and CEO — is now bringing that decisive spirit to the company himself. Russell Flannery, Forbes, "Las Vegas Sands Is Ready To Wager More On China," 16 Apr. 2021 That spirit of education helped the men’s rugby team collectively agree during a recent team meeting that vaccinations were an overall positive. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "'I'm definitely going to get that': Vaccines not required, most USOPC athletes still eager for shots," 14 Apr. 2021 But there is also an art to developing that spirit. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Move over Warriors, Stanford's got next when it comes to having fun on the court," 4 Apr. 2021 Robert Ashley, a guiding presence from 1969 to 1981, helped foster that spirit. New York Times, "Is the Music Over at Mills College?," 30 Mar. 2021 In keeping with that spirit, Our Country began as, quite literally, a dream. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Miko Marks is finally ready to be herself," 25 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to a federal indictment against Alzabarah, the engineer turned spy then frantically called Al Asaker, who, along with the Saudi consul general of Los Angeles, helped spirit Alzabarah to Saudi Arabia. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "Twitter Is Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Brutal Crackdown on Dissent," 9 Apr. 2021 Translate yourself to spirit; Be present on your journey. Jenna Ross, Star Tribune, "Attuned to the Earth's moods, revered Native writer N. Scott Momaday sounds an alarm," 12 Mar. 2021 To avoid being spotted by fishermen, the group used several small speedboats to spirit a dozen heavily armed Gambian Navy and fisheries officers out to the Sam Simon after dark. Ian Urbina, The New Yorker, "Fish Farming Is Feeding the Globe. What’s the Cost for Locals?," 1 Mar. 2021 The pirate could even be the copyist, who could clandestinely make another copy, spirit it out to another publisher, sometimes even before the legitimate one. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Bubble, Bubble, but No Trouble (Yet)," 29 Dec. 2020 The hashish extracted from the plant and sold to smugglers who spirit it out of the country has done more than any other crop to help the village residents edge out of abject poverty. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "‘If There Were No Hashish Here, You Wouldn’t See a Single House’," 19 Oct. 2020 In the new design, the cooling elements are integrated throughout by creating microchannels for fluid within semiconductors that spirit away the heat, save energy, and mitigate the environmental problems created by data centers. Jim Morrison, Smithsonian Magazine, "A New System for Cooling Down Computers Could Revolutionize the Pace of Innovation," 16 Sep. 2020 Thousands evacuated the area, and the county sent dozens of buses earlier this week to spirit away approximately 1,000 people to shelters in inland cities, mainly San Antonio. Washington Post, "Hurricane Laura’s ferocious winds, storm surge could be ‘unsurvivable’ along Texas, Louisiana coast," 27 Aug. 2020 Mark McGwire hit a pair of two-run homers off Stewart to give Southern California a 6-3 lead, but Henderson spirited a comeback for the Northern Californians, who pulled out a 7-6 victory at Angel Stadium. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "I-5 Series, Game 4: Rickey Henderson bails out Dave Stewart, NorCal wins 7-6," 30 May 2020

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


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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for spirit

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spirit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirit. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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

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 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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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