OTHER WORDS FROM ghastlyghast·li·ness, noun
Words nearby 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.
Did you know … ?
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.
Waiting for flight, ghastly food, ghastly coffee, even ghastlier people!
— Steve Wheeler (@SteveWheeler1) June 8, 2009
I removed a browser extension that converted my twitter to the old twitter and this twitter redesign is ghastly. Have you all been using this for months? No wonder people are so mean on here.
— Barbara Smith (@nanaslugdiva) March 5, 2020
This may surprise some, but I absolutely love bowling shoes. Yes, they may look positively ghastly on some, but obviously I make them work.
— Uncle Deadly (@unclebydeadly) August 5, 2018
Try using ghastly!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of ghastly?
How to use ghastly in a sentence
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.How DMX's It's Dark and Hell Is Hot Changed the Course of Hip-Hop Forever|Andrew R. Chow|April 9, 2021|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.Prince Philip, royal consort to Queen Elizabeth II, dies at 99|Adrian Higgins|April 9, 2021|Washington Post
Most of Washington’s seasons under Snyder blend together, a ghastly mush of failed quarterbacks, free agent busts and general ineptitude.Ranking Washington football seasons in the Daniel Snyder era from least to most fun|Scott Allen|January 14, 2021|Washington Post
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.Just Because It’s Natural Doesn’t Mean It’s Good - Issue 89: The Dark Side|David P. Barash|August 19, 2020|Nautilus
The nation can either accept his ideas or risk ghastly consequences.‘America in Retreat’: Why Neo-Isolationism Exploded Under Obama and What We Can Do About It|James Kirchick|December 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
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.Inside ‘Orange Is the New Black’ S2, Eps. 6-12: About That Shocking Incest Scene|Kevin Fallon, Marlow Stern|June 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Like Carina, she remembers a ghastly scene once the American soldiers withdrew.Remembering the Fall of Saigon and Vietnam’s Mass ‘Boat People’ Exodus|Katie Baker|April 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It was a ghastly tragedy that rattled a nation and became a byword for anti-Semitism in France.A Horror Story of True-Life Anti-Semitism in France|Tracy McNicoll|April 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
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.Three More John Silence Stories|Algernon Blackwood
He could not fail to note the different effects he and his cousin produced in her—the ghastly difference.