Definitions

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

  • noun A force or principle believed to animate living beings.
  • noun A force or principle believed to animate humans and often to endure after departing from the body of a person at death; the soul.
  • noun The Holy Spirit.
  • noun A supernatural being, as.
  • noun An angel or demon.
  • noun A being inhabiting or embodying a particular place, object, or natural phenomenon.
  • noun A fairy or sprite.
  • noun The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings.
  • noun The essential nature of a person or group.
  • noun A person as characterized by a stated quality.
  • noun An inclination or tendency of a specified kind.
  • noun A pervasive or essential attitude, quality, or principle.
  • noun An attitude marked by enthusiasm, energy, or courage.
  • noun A mood or emotional state.
  • noun Strong loyalty or dedication.
  • noun The actual though unstated sense or significance of something.
  • noun An alcohol solution of an essential or volatile substance.
  • noun An alcoholic beverage, especially distilled liquor.
  • transitive verb To carry off mysteriously or secretly.
  • transitive verb To impart courage, animation, or determination to; inspirit.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One of an officially recognized class of pharmaceutical preparations, formerly made by distilling with alcohol a crude drug containing some volatile and medicinally useful ingredient, but now frequently by direct solution in alcohol of this ingredient, such as a volatile oil or essence, previously obtained in separate form. Spirit of cinnamon is an example.
  • To animate; inspire; inspirit; excite; encourage; enliven; cheer: sometimes with up.
  • To convey away rapidly and secretly, as if by the agency of a spirit; kidnap: generally with off, away, or other adverb of direction.
  • To treat with spirits.
  • noun According to old and primitive modes of thought, an invisible corporeal thing of an airy nature, scarcely material, the principle of life, mediating between soul and body.
  • noun The principle of life conceived as a fragment of the divine essence breathed into man by God.
  • noun Metaphorically, animation; vivacity; exuberance of life; cheerfulness; courage; mettle; temper; humor; mood: usually in the plural.
  • noun A peculiar animating and inspiring principle; dominant influence; genius; that which pervades and tempers the conduct and thought of men, either singly or (especially) in bodies, and characterizes them or their works.
  • noun The essence, real meaning, or intent of any statement, command, or contract: opposed to letter.
  • noun Incorporeal, immaterial being or principle; personality, or a personality, unconnected or only associated with a body: in Biblical use applied to God, and specifically to the third person of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit); also to supernatural good and evil beings (angels).
  • noun A person considered with respect to his peculiar characteristics of mind or temper, especially as shown in action; a man of life, fire, energy, enterprise, courage, or the like, who influences or dominates: as, the leading spirits of the movement were arrested.
  • noun A disembodied soul, or a soul naturally destitute of an ordinary solid body; an apparition of such a being; a specter; a ghost.
  • noun A supernatural being; an angel, fairy, elf, sprite, demon, or the like.
  • noun A subtle fluid contained in a particular substance, and conferring upon it its peculiar properties.
  • noun In old chemistry, a liquor obtained by distillation; often in the plural.
  • noun A strong alcoholic liquor; in a restricted sense, such a liquor variously treated in the process of distillation, and used as a beverage or medicinally, as brandy, whisky, and gin; in the plural, any strong distilled liquor.
  • noun A solution of tin in an acid, used in dyeing.
  • noun An aspirate; a breathing, as the letter h.
  • noun The essence or active principle of anything.
  • noun In mod. German philos., the highest mode of existence; also, anything possessing such existence.
  • noun By inspiration; by or under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • noun Synonyms Life, Liveliness, etc. (see animation), force, resolution.
  • noun 4. Drift, gist, sense, significance, nature.
  • noun Soul, Intellect, etc. (see mind); inner self, vital essence.

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

  • transitive verb To animate with vigor; to excite; to encourage; to inspirit; ; -- sometimes followed by up.
  • transitive verb To convey rapidly and secretly, or mysteriously, as if by the agency of a spirit; to kidnap; -- often with away, or off.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French espirit, from Latin spīritus, breath, from spīrāre, to breathe.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English spirit, from Old French espirit ("spirit"), from Latin spīritus ("breath; spirit"), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)peys- (“to blow, breathe”). Compare inspire, respire, transpire, all ultimately from Latin spīrō ("I breathe, blow, respire"). Cognate with Old English fisting ("(silent) breaking of wind"). Displaced native Middle English gast ("spirit") (from Old English gāst ("breath, soul, spirit")). More at fist.

Examples

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  • See predation comments.

    March 25, 2012