View synonyms for ghastly


[ gast-lee ]


, ghast·li·er, ghast·li·est.
  1. shockingly frightful or dreadful; horrible:

    a ghastly murder.

  2. resembling a ghost, especially in being very pale:

    a ghastly look to his face.

    Synonyms: cadaverous, pallid, deathlike

  3. terrible; very bad:

    a ghastly error.


  1. Also ghast·li·ly [] ghast·i·ly []. in a ghastly manner; horribly; terribly.
  2. with a deathlike quality.


/ ˈɡɑːstlɪ /


  1. informal.
    very bad or unpleasant
  2. deathly pale; wan
  3. informal.
    extremely unwell; ill

    they felt ghastly after the party

  4. terrifying; horrible


  1. unhealthily; sickly

    ghastly pale

  2. archaic.
    in a horrible or hideous manner
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Derived Forms

  • ˈghastliness, noun
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Other Words From

  • ghast·li·ness noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of ghastly1

1275–1325; Middle English gastly; ghast, -ly
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Word History and Origins

Origin of ghastly1

Old English gāstlīc spiritual; see ghostly
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Example Sentences

Eventually overcome by his ghastly fascination, Leontius runs toward the corpses and wails, “Look, you damned wretches, take your fill of the fair sight!”

Lyrics on It’s Dark and Hell is Hot made many listeners squirm, especially the ghastly “X-Is Coming,” in which he adapts Freddie Krueger’s nursery rhyme from A Nightmare On Elm Street.

From Time

While touring China in 1986, he described parts of Beijing as “ghastly” and joked with a British student that he would end up “slitty-eyed” if he stayed too long.

Most of Washington’s seasons under Snyder blend together, a ghastly mush of failed quarterbacks, free agent busts and general ineptitude.

We have long known that the natural world is replete with grisly cases of predation, parasitism, a universe of ghastly horrors all generated by natural selection and unleavened by the slightest ethical qualms on the part of perpetrators.

The nation can either accept his ideas or risk ghastly consequences.

And so those closest to the ghastly virus remain deaf to hashtags, and silent.

Watching her drown her sorrows in hooch and then get beat up by Crazy Eyes in the showers was ghastly…but great television.

Like Carina, she remembers a ghastly scene once the American soldiers withdrew.

It was a ghastly tragedy that rattled a nation and became a byword for anti-Semitism in France.

The explanation of his mysterious earlier moods offered itself with a clarity that was ghastly.

In a paroxysm of rage and fear, he gave the final order, and the Well of Cawnpore thereby attained its ghastly immortality.

Native rumors had brought the news of the massacre at Cawnpore, though the ghastly tragedy of the Well was yet to come.

But the simulacra of certain ghastly events that took place under that roof in past days still continue.

He could not fail to note the different effects he and his cousin produced in her—the ghastly difference.


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More About Ghastly

What does ghastly mean?

Ghastly means dreadful, horrible, terrible, or shockingly frightful.

Ghastly is more common in everyday usage in the U.K. than in the U.S., but it is used in the same ways in both places. It can be applied in a range of serious and not-so-serious ways.

Ghastly can also mean resembling a ghost due to being very pale. Less commonly, it can be used as an adverb.

Example: Our dinner was positively ghastly—all the food was underseasoned and overcooked until it was nearly inedible.

Where does ghastly come from?

The first records of ghastly come from around the 1300s. Both ghastly and the related word aghast (meaning “filled with shock or horror”) derive from the Old English gǣstan, meaning “to frighten.” The word ghost is related, as is the geist in poltergeist.

Unsurprisingly, given its etymology, ghastly was first used to mean “terrifying” or “causing horror.” Today, it is still often used to describe things that are truly horrific, as in ghastly violence. But it is also commonly used in less serious situations in which we might otherwise use horrible, dreadful, or awful, especially relating to the quality of something or how it looks. When we say this coffee is ghastly, we mean it tastes very bad. When we call someone’s shoes ghastly, we’re saying they’re unfashionable to the point of being ugly, even hideous. When we wake up feeling ghastly, it means we’re feeling very unwell. In this case, we might also look ghastly—pale and sickly.

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What are some other forms related to ghastly?

  • ghastlier (adjective, comparative form)
  • ghastliest (adjective, superlative form)
  • ghastliness (noun)
  • ghastlily (adverb)
  • ghastily (adverb)

What are some synonyms for ghastly?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ghastly


What are some words that often get used in discussing ghastly?

What are some words ghastly may be commonly confused with?

How is ghastly used in real life?

English speakers in the U.K. are more likely to use ghastly than those in the U.S., where the word may sound somewhat formal.



Try using ghastly!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of ghastly?

A. dreadful
B. horrible
C. wonderful
D. terrifying