an evil demon, originally of Muslim legend, supposed to feed on human beings, and especially to rob graves, prey on corpses, etc.
a grave robber.
a person who revels in what is revolting.

Origin of ghoul

First recorded in 1780–90, ghoul is from the Arabic word ghūl Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ghoul

Contemporary Examples of ghoul

Historical Examples of ghoul

  • He was a sottish-looking fellow, and there was something of the glare of a ghoul in his eyes.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • It is a ghoul, it haunts his dreams, this image, with its hateful conclusions.

  • It was the physiognomy of what I should fancy a ghoul might be.

    A Stable for Nightmares

    J. Sheridan Le Fanu

  • But then he was such a worthless vagabond, a ghoul who had robbed a dead body.

    Five Tales

    John Galsworthy

  • We go to ashes at once, and leave no corpse for a ghoul to inhabit and make a vampire of.

    Robert Falconer

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for ghoul



a malevolent spirit or ghost
a person interested in morbid or disgusting things
a person who robs graves
(in Muslim legend) an evil demon thought to eat human bodies, either stolen corpses or children

Word Origin for ghoul

C18: from Arabic ghūl, from ghāla he seized
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 ghoul

1786, in the English translation of Beckford's "Vathek," from Arabic ghul, an evil spirit that robs graves and feeds on corpses, from ghala "he seized."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper