of, characteristic of, or for black Americans or their culture: soul newspapers.

Origin of soul

before 900; Middle English; Old English sāwl, sāwol; cognate with Dutch ziel, German Seele, Old Norse sāl, Gothic saiwala
Related formssoul·like, adjectiveun·der·soul, noun

Synonyms for soul

1. spirit. 4. heart. 7. essence, core, heart. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for soul

Contemporary Examples of soul

Historical Examples of soul

  • All pursuits that serve to connect the soul with the world whence it came are rejected.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • I have never seen the soul withdrawn without a struggle with the body.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • When the soul was again led into the body, it related all that had happened to it.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Then I heard a voice, saying, 'Lo, the soul seeketh to ascend!'


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The good bishop believed she had jeopardised her soul with divorce.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for soul



the spirit or immaterial part of man, the seat of human personality, intellect, will, and emotions, regarded as an entity that survives the body after deathRelated adjective: pneumatic
Christianity the spiritual part of a person, capable of redemption from the power of sin through divine grace
the essential part or fundamental nature of anything
a person's feelings or moral nature as distinct from other faculties
  1. Also called: soul musica type of Black music resulting from the addition of jazz, gospel, and pop elements to the urban blues style
  2. (as modifier)a soul singer
(modifier) of or relating to Black Americans and their culturesoul brother; soul food
nobility of spirit or temperamenta man of great soul and courage
an inspiring spirit or leading figure, as of a cause or movement
a person regarded as typifying some characteristic or qualitythe soul of discretion
a person; individualan honest soul
the life and soul See life (def. 28)
upon my soul! an exclamation of surprise
Derived Formssoul-like, adjective

Word Origin for soul

Old English sāwol; related to Old Frisian sēle, Old Saxon sēola, Old High German sēula soul



Christian Science another word for God
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 soul

"A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills" [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being," from Proto-Germanic *saiwalo (cf. Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea," because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as "from the lake," as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

Meaning "spirit of a deceased person" is attested in Old English from 971. As a synonym for "person, individual, human being" (e.g. every living soul) it dates from early 14c. Soul-searching (n.) is attested from 1871, from the phrase used as a past participle adjective (1610s). Distinguishing soul from spirit is a matter best left to theologians.


"instinctive quality felt by black persons as an attribute," 1946, jazz slang, from soul (n.1). Also from this sense are soul brother (1957), soul sister (1967), soul food (1957), etc. Soul music, essentially gospel music with "girl," etc., in place of "Jesus," first attested 1961; William James used the term in 1900, in a spiritual/romantic sense, but in reference to inner music.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with soul


In addition to the idiom beginning with soul

  • soul of, the

also see:

  • bare one's soul
  • heart and soul
  • keep body and soul together
  • kindred spirit (soul)
  • living soul
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.