[ gast-lee, gahst- ]
/ ˈgæst li, ˈgɑst- /

adjective, ghast·li·er, ghast·li·est.

shockingly frightful or dreadful; horrible: a ghastly murder.
resembling a ghost, especially in being very pale: a ghastly look to his face.
terrible; very bad: a ghastly error.


Also ghast·li·ly, ghast·i·ly. in a ghastly manner; horribly; terribly.
with a deathlike quality.

Origin of ghastly

1275–1325; Middle English gastly; see ghast, -ly
Related formsghast·li·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ghastly

British Dictionary definitions for ghastly


/ (ˈɡɑːstlɪ) /

adjective -lier or -liest

informal very bad or unpleasant
deathly pale; wan
informal extremely unwell; illthey felt ghastly after the party
terrifying; horrible


unhealthily; sicklyghastly pale
archaic in a horrible or hideous manner
Derived Formsghastliness, noun

Word Origin for ghastly

Old English gāstlīc spiritual; see ghostly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ghastly



c.1300, gastlich, from gast (adj.), past participle of gasten "to frighten," from Old English gæstan "to torment, frighten" (see ghost) + -lich "-ly." Spelling with gh- developed 16c. from confusion with ghost. As an adverb, from 1580s. Related: Ghastliness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper