[ spir-it ]
See synonyms for: spiritspiritedspiritingspirits on Thesaurus.com

  1. the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.

  2. the incorporeal part of humans: present in spirit though absent in body.

  1. the soul regarded as separating from the body at death.

  2. conscious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter: the world of spirit.

  3. a supernatural, incorporeal being, especially one inhabiting a place, object, etc., or having a particular character: evil spirits.

  4. a fairy, sprite, or elf.

  5. an angel or demon.

  6. an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action: the spirit of reform.

  7. (initial capital letter) the divine influence as an agency working in the human heart.

  8. a divine, inspiring, or animating being or influence. Numbers 11:25; Isaiah 32:15.

  9. (initial capital letter) the third person of the Trinity; Holy Spirit.

  10. the soul or heart as the seat of feelings or sentiments, or as prompting to action: a man of broken spirit.

  11. spirits, feelings or mood with regard to exaltation or depression: low spirits; good spirits.

  12. excellent disposition or attitude in terms of vigor, courage, firmness of intent, etc.; mettle: That's the spirit!

  13. temper or disposition: meek in spirit.

  14. an individual as characterized by a given attitude, disposition, character, action, etc.: A few brave spirits remained to face the danger.

  15. the dominant tendency or character of anything: the spirit of the age.

  16. vigorous sense of membership in a group: college spirit.

  17. the general meaning or intent of a statement, document, etc. (opposed to letter): the spirit of the law.

  18. Chemistry. the essence or active principle of a substance as extracted in liquid form, especially by distillation.

  19. Often spirits . a strong distilled alcoholic liquor.

  20. Chiefly British. alcohol.

  21. Pharmacology. a solution in alcohol of an essential or volatile principle; essence (def. 3).

  22. any of certain subtle fluids formerly supposed to permeate the body.

  23. the Spirit, God

  1. pertaining to something that works by burning alcoholic spirits: a spirit stove.

  2. of or relating to spiritualist bodies or activities.

verb (used with object)
  1. to animate with fresh ardor or courage; inspirit.

  2. to encourage; urge on or stir up, as to action.

  1. to carry off mysteriously or secretly (often followed by away or off): His captors spirited him away.

Idioms about spirit

  1. out of spirits, in low spirits; depressed: We were feeling out of spirits after so many days of rain.

Origin of spirit

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English (noun), from Latin spīritus originally, “a breathing,” equivalent to spīri-, combining form representing spīrāre “to breathe” + -tus suffix of verb action

synonym study For spirit

5. See ghost.

Other words for spirit

Other words from spirit

  • spir·it·like, adjective
  • non·spir·it, noun
  • outspirit, verb (used with object)
  • un·spir·it·ing, adjective

Words that may be confused with spirit

Words Nearby spirit

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use spirit in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spirit (1 of 3)


/ (ˈspɪrɪt) /

  1. the force or principle of life that animates the body of living things

  2. temperament or disposition: truculent in spirit

  1. liveliness; mettle: they set to it with spirit

  2. the fundamental, emotional, and activating principle of a person; will: the experience broke his spirit

  3. a sense of loyalty or dedication: team spirit

  4. the prevailing element; feeling: a spirit of joy pervaded the atmosphere

  5. state of mind or mood; attitude: he did it in the wrong spirit

  6. (plural) an emotional state, esp with regard to exaltation or dejection: in high spirits

  7. a person characterized by some activity, quality, or disposition: a leading spirit of the movement

  8. the deeper more significant meaning as opposed to a pedantic interpretation: the spirit of the law

  9. that which constitutes a person's intangible being as contrasted with his physical presence: I shall be with you in spirit

    • an incorporeal being, esp the soul of a dead person

    • (as modifier): spirit world

  1. (usually foll by away or off) to carry off mysteriously or secretly

  2. (often foll by up) to impart animation or determination to

Origin of spirit

C13: from Old French esperit, from Latin spīritus breath, spirit; related to spīrāre to breathe

British Dictionary definitions for spirit (2 of 3)


/ (ˈspɪrɪt) /

  1. (often plural) any distilled alcoholic liquor such as brandy, rum, whisky, or gin

  2. chem

    • an aqueous solution of ethanol, esp one obtained by distillation

    • the active principle or essence of a substance, extracted as a liquid, esp by distillation

  1. pharmacol

    • a solution of a volatile substance, esp a volatile oil, in alcohol

    • (as modifier): a spirit burner

  2. alchemy any of the four substances sulphur, mercury, sal ammoniac, or arsenic

Origin of spirit

C14: special use of spirit 1, name applied to alchemical substances (as in sense 4), hence extended to distilled liquids

British Dictionary definitions for Spirit (3 of 3)


/ (ˈspɪrɪt) /

nounthe Spirit
    • another name for the Holy Spirit

    • God, esp when regarded as transcending material limitations

  1. the influence of God or divine things upon the soul

  1. Christian Science God or divine substance

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 spirit


In addition to the idioms beginning with spirit

  • spirit away
  • spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, the

also see:

  • kindred spirit

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