Definitions

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

  • adjective Causing shock, revulsion, or horror; terrifying.
  • adjective Resembling a ghost; pale or pallid.
  • adjective Extremely unpleasant or bad.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

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

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

  • adjective Horrifyingly shocking.
  • adjective Extremely bad.
  • adverb In a ghastly manner.

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

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

Etymologies

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.]

Examples

  • Rather, it reflects expectations that this week's run of what they termed ghastly U.S. data will prompt the Fed to plan further extraordinary measures to boost the economy.

    Dollar Slips Against Yen, Euro

  • 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".

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • 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.

    THE UNEXPECTED

  • 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.

    CHAPTER VI

  • 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.

    Political Animals

  • 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.

    Political Animals

  • The Yankees stumbled into the playoffs in ghastly fashion.

    Boss wisely banked on Yankee pride

  • 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.

    Chapter 6

  • 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.

    The Unexpected

  • 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.

    THE UNEXPECTED

Comments

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  • Citation on unctuous.

    June 28, 2008

  • Citation on revenge.

    April 14, 2010

  • Eclispe by Stephenie Meyer Page 81

    -"For one ghastly moment, I was reminded of our afternoon in Italy."

    November 1, 2010