[ gohst ]
See synonyms for: ghostghostedghosterghostest on

  1. the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.

  2. a mere shadow or semblance; a trace: He's a ghost of his former self.

  1. a remote possibility: He hasn't a ghost of a chance.

  2. (sometimes initial capital letter) a spiritual being.

  3. the principle of life; soul; spirit.

  4. Informal. ghostwriter.

  5. a secondary image, especially one appearing on a television screen as a white shadow, caused by poor or double reception or by a defect in the receiver.

  6. Also called ghost im·age [gohst-im-ij] /ˈgoʊst ˌɪm ɪdʒ/ .Photography. a faint secondary or out-of-focus image in a photographic print or negative resulting from reflections within the camera lens.

  7. an oral word game in which each player in rotation adds a letter to those supplied by preceding players, the object being to avoid ending a word.

  8. Optics. a series of false spectral lines produced by a diffraction grating with unevenly spaced lines.

  9. Metalworking. a streak appearing on a freshly machined piece of steel containing impurities.

  10. a red blood cell having no hemoglobin.

  11. a fictitious employee, business, etc., fabricated especially for the purpose of manipulating funds or avoiding taxes: Investigation showed a payroll full of ghosts.

verb (used with object)
  1. to ghostwrite (a book, speech, etc.).

  2. to haunt.

  1. Engraving. to lighten the background of (a photograph) before engraving.

  2. Informal.

    • to suddenly end all contact with (a person) without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship:The guy I’ve been dating ghosted me.

    • to leave (a social event or gathering) suddenly without saying goodbye:My friend ghosted my birthday party.

  3. Digital Technology. to remove (comments, threads, or other digital content) from a website or online forum without informing the poster, keeping them hidden from the public but still visible to the poster.

verb (used without object)
  1. to ghostwrite.

  2. to go about or move like a ghost.

  1. (of a sailing vessel) to move when there is no perceptible wind.

  2. to pay people for work not performed, especially as a way of manipulating funds.

  3. Informal.

    • to suddenly end all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship:They dated for a month and then she ghosted.

    • to leave a social event or gathering suddenly without saying goodbye:I'm getting tired so I think I might just ghost.

  4. Digital Technology. to remove comments, threads, or other digital content from a website or online forum without informing the poster, keeping them hidden from the public but still visible to the poster.

  1. fabricated for purposes of deception or fraud: We were making contributions to a ghost company.

Idioms about ghost

  1. give up the ghost,

    • to die.

    • to cease to function or exist.

Origin of ghost

First recorded before 900; Middle English goost (noun), Old English gāst; cognate with German Geist spirit

synonym study For ghost

1. Ghost, specter, spirit all refer to the disembodied soul of a person. A ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person, which appears or otherwise makes its presence known to the living: the ghost of a drowned child. A specter is a ghost or apparition of more or less weird, unearthly, or terrifying aspect: a frightening specter. Spirit is often interchangeable with ghost but may mean a supernatural being, usually with an indication of good or malign intent toward human beings: the spirit of a friend; an evil spirit.

Other words for ghost

Other words from ghost

  • ghost·i·ly, adverb
  • ghost·like, adjective
  • de·ghost, verb (used with object)
  • un·ghost·like, adjective

Words Nearby ghost Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use ghost in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ghost


/ (ɡəʊst) /

  1. the disembodied spirit of a dead person, supposed to haunt the living as a pale or shadowy vision; phantom: Related adjective: spectral

  2. a haunting memory: the ghost of his former life rose up before him

  1. a faint trace or possibility of something; glimmer: a ghost of a smile

  2. the spirit; soul (archaic, except in the phrase the Holy Ghost)

  3. physics

    • a faint secondary image produced by an optical system

    • a similar image on a television screen, formed by reflection of the transmitting waves or by a defect in the receiver

  4. Also called: ghost edition an entry recorded in a bibliography of which no actual proof exists

  5. Another name for ghostwriter: See ghostwrite

  6. (modifier) falsely recorded as doing a particular job or fulfilling a particular function in order that some benefit, esp money, may be obtained: a ghost worker

  7. give up the ghost

    • to die

    • (of a machine) to stop working

  1. (tr) to haunt

  1. (intr) to move effortlessly and smoothly, esp unnoticed: he ghosted into the penalty area

Origin of ghost

Old English gāst; related to Old Frisian jēst, Old High German geist spirit, Sanskrit hēda fury, anger

Derived forms of ghost

  • ghostlike, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with ghost


In addition to the idiom beginning with ghost

  • ghost town

also see:

  • Chinaman's (ghost of a) chance
  • give up the ghost

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.