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

  • adj. Inspiring shock, revulsion, or horror by or as if by suggesting death; terrifying: a ghastly murder.
  • adj. Suggestive of or resembling ghosts.
  • adj. Extremely unpleasant or bad: "in the most abominable passage of his ghastly little book” ( Conor Cruise O'Brien).
  • adj. Very serious or great: a ghastly error.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Horrifyingly shocking.
  • adj. Extremely bad.
  • adv. In a ghastly manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Like a ghost in appearance; deathlike; pale; pallid; dismal.
  • adj. Horrible; shocking; dreadful; hideous.
  • adv. In a ghastly manner; hideously.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Dreadful or deathly in aspect or look; deathlike; haggard; shocking.
  • Deathly in import or suggestion; morally dreadful or shocking.
  • Synonyms Ghastly, Grim, Grisly, Haggard, Hideous; pale, wan, cadaverous, frightful. Hideous may apply to sound, as a hideous noise; the others not. All in modern use apply primarily to sight and secondarily to mental perception, except haggard, which connotes sight only. Ghastly, as it is most commonly used, means deathly pale, deathlike, referring to the countenance, but its signification has been extended to denote anything that is suggestive of death, or even repulsive and shocking, as Milton's “mangled with ghastly wounds” (P. L., vi. 368), “a ghastly smile” (Milton, P. L., ii. 846), a ghastly jest. Grim characterizes a rigid cast of countenance, indicating a severe, stern, or even ruthless disposition. Grisly refers to the whole form or aspect, especially when dark, forbidding, or such as to inspire terror. Haggard adds to the idea of paleness of countenance that of being wasted by famine or protracted mental agony. Hideous, used of looks, applies to the whole form or scene, and means simply repulsive, extremely unpleasant to see: as, hideous features; a hideous scene. See pale.
  • In a ghastly manner; dreadfully; hideously; with a deathlike aspect.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. shockingly repellent; inspiring horror
  • adj. gruesomely indicative of death or the dead


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

Alteration (influenced by ghost) of Middle English gastli, from gasten, to terrify; see aghast.


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  • Prince Charles is known to have a profound dislike for what he calls "ghastly TV weather-girl names", and is thought to dislike "Kate" almost as much "Di".

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  • The feeding of animal matter to protein-producing herds has been a catastrophe, resulting not only in ghastly pyres but in repulsive and sometimes lethally tainted food.

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  • The Yankees stumbled into the playoffs in ghastly fashion.

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  • Daughtry, to behold his captain, frayed and bleeding and breathing apoplectically, Michael raging in ghastly silence at the end of a mop, and a large Persian mother-cat writhing with a broken back.

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  • Even so, they were twice dragged backward by the weight of the sled, and slid and fell down the hill, the living and the dead, the haul-ropes and the sled, in ghastly entanglement.

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  • On stark forms upon the sward; green and red in ghastly heaps;

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  • A mania is upon me which, after thirty years of useless resistance and superhuman struggle, still draws me from bed and sleep to rehearse in ghastly fashion that deed of my early manhood.

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  • As I have already said, these half-buried pylons, this solitary obelisk, those giant heads rising in ghastly resurrection before the gates of the Temple, were magnificent still.

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  • The Idle Man and the Writer wreathed their countenances in ghastly smiles, and did likewise.

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