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

  • n. The spirit of a dead person, especially one believed to appear in bodily likeness to living persons or to haunt former habitats.
  • n. The center of spiritual life; the soul.
  • n. A demon or spirit.
  • n. A returning or haunting memory or image.
  • n. A slight or faint trace: just a ghost of a smile.
  • n. The tiniest bit: not a ghost of a chance.
  • n. A faint, false image, as:
  • n. A secondary image on a television or radar screen caused by reflected waves.
  • n. A displaced image in a photograph caused by the optical system of the camera.
  • n. A false spectral line caused by imperfections in the diffraction grating.
  • n. A displaced image in a mirror caused by reflection from the front of the glass.
  • n. Informal A ghostwriter.
  • n. A nonexistent publication listed in bibliographies.
  • n. A fictitious employee or business.
  • n. Physiology A red blood cell having no hemoglobin.
  • intransitive v. Informal To engage in ghostwriting.
  • intransitive v. To move noiselessly like a ghost: "Two young deer ghosted out of the woods” ( Nancy M. Debevoise).
  • transitive v. To haunt.
  • transitive v. Informal To ghostwrite: was hired to ghost the memoirs of a famous executive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The spirit; the soul of man.
  • n. The disembodied soul; the soul or spirit of a deceased person; a spirit appearing after death; an apparition; a specter.
  • n. Any faint shadowy semblance; an unsubstantial image; a phantom; a glimmering.
  • n. A false image formed in a telescope, camera, or other optical device by reflection from the surfaces of one or more lenses.
  • n. An unwanted image similar to and overlapping or adjacent to the main one on a television screen, caused by the transmitted image being received both directly and via reflection.
  • n. A ghostwriter.
  • n. An unresponsive user on IRC, resulting from the user's client disconnecting without notifying the server.
  • n. an image of a file or hard disk.
  • n. An understudy.
  • n. A covert (and deniable) agent.
  • n. The faint image that remains after an attempt to remove graffiti.
  • v. To haunt; to appear to in the form of an apparition.
  • v. To ghostwrite.
  • v. to copy a file or hard drive image.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The spirit; the soul of man.
  • n. The disembodied soul; the soul or spirit of a deceased person; a spirit appearing after death; an apparition; a specter.
  • n. Any faint shadowy semblance; an unsubstantial image; a phantom; a glimmering
  • n. A false image formed in a telescope by reflection from the surfaces of one or more lenses.
  • intransitive v. To die; to expire.
  • transitive v. To appear to or haunt in the form of an apparition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To appear to in the form of a ghost; haunt as a spirit or specter.
  • To give up the ghost; die; expire.
  • n. Breath; spirit; specifically, the breath; the spirit; the soul of man.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A spirit; a demon.
  • n. A spirit in general; an unearthly specter or apparition.
  • n. A dead body.
  • n. A mere shadow or semblance.
  • n. In optics, a spot of light or secondary image caused by a defect of the instrument, generally by reflections from the lenses.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A Neapolitan order. See Order of the Knot, under knot
  • n. 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.
  • n. One who does literary, legal, or artistic work for another, who gets all the credit; one who ‘devils’ for another.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A red blood-corpuscle from which the red coloring-matter or hemoglobin has escaped.

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

  • v. haunt like a ghost; pursue
  • n. a writer who gives the credit of authorship to someone else
  • n. a suggestion of some quality
  • n. a mental representation of some haunting experience
  • v. move like a ghost
  • n. the visible disembodied soul of a dead person
  • v. write for someone else


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").


  • The term "ghost winery" refers to places that were started in the mid- to late 19th century, a time when the California wine industry was booming, but were abandoned in the early 20th century.

    The Seattle Times

  • “As God is my witness,” I growl, “if you say the word ghost again, I will find a way to drown you in my shot glass.”

    Soul Trapper

  • ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, well, you guys have used the term ghost town.

    CNN Transcript Sep 1, 2008

  • We told you what the term ghost riding - this is kind of drivers on a dare here.

    CNN Transcript Jan 6, 2007

  • It's almost as if you may have "cooties" by saying the word "ghost" and '"I saw" in the same sentence.

    Alexandra Holzer: Rich or Famous, Dead or Alive... Nothing Is Perfect

  • Gabriel and Michael Corrigan thought that their father was killed by the Tabula, but now there are signs that his ghost is alive.

    John Twelve Hawks - An interview with author

  • She was excited because Valentina had actually used the word ghost.

    Her Fearful Symmetry

  • Before the elections, I wanted to push the Afghan institutions -- and we were there to support Afghan institutions -- to eliminate what I call the ghost polling centers.

    CNN Transcript Oct 2, 2009

  • He was working on some experiments aimed at finding what he called the ghost particle.

    The Beautiful Miscellaneous

  • Many of these Iraqi ministries have what they call ghost employees, fictitious people on the payroll and that money just vanishes through corruption.

    CNN Transcript Feb 7, 2007


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  • 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

  • "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

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

    June 13, 2009