from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The spirit of a dead person, especially one that is believed to appear to the living in bodily form or to haunt specific locations.
  • noun A person's spirit or soul.
  • noun A returning or haunting memory or image.
  • noun A slight or faint trace.
  • noun The tiniest bit.
  • noun A faint, unwanted image, as.
  • noun An unwanted image on a television or radar screen caused by reflected waves.
  • noun A displaced image in a photograph caused by the optical system of the camera.
  • noun An unwanted spectral line caused by imperfections in a diffraction grating.
  • noun A displaced image in a mirror caused by reflection from the front of the glass.
  • noun Informal A ghostwriter.
  • noun A nonexistent publication listed in bibliographies.
  • noun A fictitious employee or business.
  • noun Physiology A red blood cell having no hemoglobin.
  • intransitive verb Informal To engage in ghostwriting.
  • intransitive verb To move noiselessly like a ghost.
  • intransitive verb To haunt.
  • intransitive verb Informal To ghostwrite.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One who does literary, legal, or artistic work for another, who gets all the credit; one who ‘devils’ for another.
  • noun A false line in a diffraction-spectrum caused by certain periodic irregularities in the ruling of the grating which produces the spectrum. Ghosts usually occur in pairs accompanying a conspicuous line on each side of it and near it. See grating.
  • noun A red blood-corpuscle from which the red coloring-matter or hemoglobin has escaped.
  • To appear to in the form of a ghost; haunt as a spirit or specter.
  • To give up the ghost; die; expire.
  • noun Breath; spirit; specifically, the breath; the spirit; the soul of man.
  • noun The soul of a dead person; the soul or spirit separate from the body; more especially, a disembodied spirit imagined as wandering among or haunting living persons; a human specter or apparition.
  • noun A spirit; a demon.
  • noun A spirit in general; an unearthly specter or apparition.
  • noun A dead body.
  • noun A mere shadow or semblance.
  • noun In optics, a spot of light or secondary image caused by a defect of the instrument, generally by reflections from the lenses.
  • noun Specifically In photography, a glint of light cast by the lens on the focusing-glass or on the plate during exposure, in the latter case producing a more or less defined opaque spot. It results usually from the presence of a too strongly illuminated surface or object in or near the field of the lens. Also called flare.
  • noun An order founded at Montpellier, France, about the end of the twelfth century, and united to the Order of St. Lazarus by Pope Clement XIII.
  • noun A Neapolitan order. See Order of the Knot, under knot
  • noun Synonyms Ghost, Shade, Apparition, Specter, Phantom, Phantasm. Ghost is the old word for the disembodied spirit, especially as appearing to man: as, the ghost of Hamlet's father; the ghost of Banquo. Shade is a soft and poetic word for ghost: as, the shade of Creüsa appeared to Æneas. An apparition is a ghost as appearing to sight, perhaps suddenly or unexpectedly; it may also be a fancied appearance, while a ghost is supposed to be real: as, Jupiter made a cloud into an apparition of Juno; Macbeth saw an apparition of a dagger; the witches showed him an apparition of a crowned child. A specter is an alarming or horrifying preternatural personal appearance, having less individuality, perhaps, than a ghost or shade, but more than an apparition necessarily has. A phantom has an apparent, not a real, existence; it differs from a phantasm in emphasizing the unreality simply and in representing a single object, while phantasm emphasizes the deception put upon the mind, and may include more than one object.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete The spirit; the soul of man.
  • noun The disembodied soul; the soul or spirit of a deceased person; a spirit appearing after death; an apparition; a specter.
  • noun Any faint shadowy semblance; an unsubstantial image; a phantom; a glimmering
  • noun A false image formed in a telescope by reflection from the surfaces of one or more lenses.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a large European moth (Hepialus humuli); so called from the white color of the male, and the peculiar hovering flight; -- called also great swift.
  • noun the Holy Spirit; the Paraclete; the Comforter; (Theol.) the third person in the Trinity.
  • noun to die; to expire.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To die; to expire.
  • transitive verb obsolete To appear to or haunt in the form of an apparition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun rare The spirit; the soul of man.
  • noun The disembodied soul; the soul or spirit of a deceased person; a spirit appearing after death; an apparition; a specter.
  • noun Any faint shadowy semblance; an unsubstantial image; a phantom; a glimmering.
  • noun A false image formed in a telescope, camera, or other optical device by reflection from the surfaces of one or more lenses.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English gost, from Old English gāst, breath, spirit.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English gost, gast, from Old English gāst ("breath, soul, spirit, ghost, being"), from Proto-Germanic *gaistaz (“ghost, spirit”), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰeizd-, *ǵʰizd- (“anger, agitation”), *ǵʰeysd-, *ǵʰisd- (“anger, agitation”). Cognate with Scots ghaist ("ghost"), West Frisian geast ("spirit"), Dutch geest ("spirit, mind, ghost"), German Geist ("spirit, mind, intellect"), Swedish gast ("ghost"), Sanskrit हेड (heḍa, "anger, hatred").


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  • "Great Caesar's ghost!" is a traditional exclamation of surprise.

    June 13, 2009

  • "It is asserted that the spelling of "ghost" with the silent letter h was adopted by Caxton due to the influence of Flemish spelling habits."


    April 7, 2017

  • A number of contacts said that they had been "ghosted," a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact.
    Federal Reserve Board Beige Book - Dec. 5, 2018

    National data on economic “ghosting” is lacking. The term, which usually applies to dating, first surfaced in 2016 on But companies across the country say silent exits are on the rise.

    . . .

    Some employees are simply young and restless, said James Cooper, former manager of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone Park, where he said people ghosted regularly.

    A few of his staffers were college students who lived in park dormitories for the summer.

    “My favorite,” he said, “was a kid who left a note on the floor in his dorm room that said ‘sorry bros, had to ghost.’ ”

    Danielle Paqquette, Workers Are Ghosting Their Employers Like Bad Dates, Wash. Post (Dec. 12, 2018)

    December 17, 2018