Mysterious Ghost Words And How They Ended Up In The Dictionary

A ghost writes an essay

Antiquated words are one thing. Take "thee," "thou," "thy," and "thine," for example: you'll almost never see anyone use those over "you," "your," and "yours" these days. Yet the archaic terms were once regular fixtures in English and still have clear definitions (via ). Go to a dictionary and you'll likely find them, with examples. But what if you come upon a word in that dictionary that has never been used and doesn't really exist?

Meriam-Webster calls such words ghost words, "a word form never in established usage." The Cambridge Dictionary concurs, with slightly different wording, and offers an explanation for how such ghost terms came to be. The answer isn't spirits of words from other languages come back to haunt their English killers. Ghost words, by and large, come from mistakes. People making up lists may misread, mispronounce, or inappropriately combine or mangle words, resulting in phantom terms with no prior root and presumed definitions.

Walter William Skeat coined the phrase "ghost word" in 1886. Skeat was president of the London Philological Society , and his annual address that year looked at the challenge posed by ghost words through the example "abacot." An abacot was, according to Webster at the time, a former "cap of state" — meaning a hat — used by the English monarch (the correct term for such is bycocket). Skeat praised the work of the Society's editors, who realized there was no foundation for the word "abacot" and expunged it from the New English Dictionary that was being prepared.

There have been several infamous ghost words

Ghost words may not be technically real, and the London Philological Society may have zealously worked to catch and remove them from lists and dictionaries, but that hasn't stopped some of them from gaining a certain amount of currency. "Abacot" may have been such a ghost word; the man who took it off the list apparently felt the need to defend himself (per Walter William Skeat's address to the Society in 1886). Skeat also cited "kime" as an example in his address. "Kime" won some notoriety when it appeared in a notable publication, the Edinburgh Review, in an 1808 article by Sydney Smith. Writing about presumed customs within Hinduism , Smith claimed that "some [Hindus] run kimes through their hands." A critic of the critic extrapolated from the context some diabolic instrument of torture, but "kime" was just a misprint of the word "knife," as Smith explained in a subsequent edition.

A less dramatic example of a ghost word is "dord." Between 1934 and 1947 (per Merriam-Webster ), this word appeared between "Dorcopsis" and "doré," per Smithsonian , and was defined as a synonym of density used by physicists and chemists. But in 1939, an editor of the dictionary got suspicious and did a little digging. He found no examples of "dord" ever being used. The ghost word was traced to a 1931 paper that indicated upper and lower-case Ds could be used to abbreviate density: "D or d." Someone mashed the note into a new word.

Dictionaries use ghost words for copyright protection

The people who compile and edit dictionaries, one assumes, would be the least enthusiastic about ghost words. The job practically demands being a stickler for accuracy in definition, etymology, and usage. But some of those editors have found a use for these otherwise troublesome ghost words — though naturally, a new purpose brings with it a new word to describe said purpose.

According to World Wide Words , the personal blog of Oxford Dictionary contributor Michael Quinion, dictionary publishers will sometimes include deliberately false entries in their editions, a practice shared with mapmakers and guides to wine tasting. The term for such a word is nihilartikel, a combination of a Latin word ("nihil," or nothing) and a German one ("artikel," or article). Quinion still distinguished between a nihilartikel and a ghost word, calling the latter an example of error rather than deliberate falsehood, but both are examples of words that don't really exist (nihilartikel was proposed as such a word itself, but it has been traced back to the German language as an obscure but genuine term).

The reason nihilartikels are inserted into maps, dictionaries, and other lists is to catch copyright infringement. Unless you plan on reading the dictionary from beginning to end, you're almost certainly never going to encounter the false word and be led astray. But if a search turns up the nihilartikel in a competitor's work, the dictionary publisher who put it in knows they have a copycat on their hands.

What Are Ghost Words?

Marko Ticak

What is a dord?

Do you know what a dord is? No? Well, don’t try looking it up in the dictionary, unless the dictionary is Webster’s Second New International Dictionary of 1934. This strange little word appeared only in that one edition, and it spent a whole five years there, happily, before being discovered as a fake. You see, “dord” isn’t a real word, even though it appeared in a dictionary. It was the result of someone misreading a note written by Austin M. Paterson, Webster’s chemistry editor at the time. The note said “D or d, cont./density,” and it referred to the uppercase letter D (or lowercase d) being used as an abbreviation for density. “D or d” became “dord,” a word that meant “density,” and the best-known example of a ghost-word—a word that, in fact, isn’t a word at all.

A history of ghost words

The Oxford Dictionary defines ghost word as “a word recorded in a dictionary or other reference work which is not actually used.” Merriam-Webster says a ghost word is “a word form never in established usage.” The term was coined by Professor Walter William Skeat in 1886, well before dord came into existence. In a yearly address to the London Philological Society, Skeat took the opportunity to call out several erroneous words. These included abacot , the misspelling of “a bycoket” (a type of headwear); kimes , which came about as the misspelling of “knives”; and morse , which was a misspelling of “nurse.”

Ghost words existed even before Skeat pointed the phenomenon out. Phantomnation appeared in the 1864 Webster’s Dictionary . It was described as a rare word meaning “appearance of a phantom, illusion,” and it was attributed to the poet Alexander Pope. Pope did indeed have something to do with it, as his Odyssey contains the verse “all the phantom nations of the dead,” but it was a man named Richard Paul Jodrell who, in his practice of solidifying two-word phrases into one (he also coined the word “islandempress,” among many others), made “phantom nation” into a single word and published it in his 1820 book Philology of the English Language .

The 1755 Johnson’s Dictionary defined the word foupe as “to drive with a sudden impetuosity” and noted that the word was out of use. And it was out of use, because it never really existed—it was a product of misreading the word soupe , written with a long s . And soupe was a rare word indeed—it meant “swoop.” The same dictionary also had an entry for adventine , which was a misprint in a Francis Bacon work—the actual word was “adventive.”

Ghost words used intentionally

Sometimes, ghost words appear in dictionaries on purpose, even though in that case they are called by another name: nihilartikel. Esquivalence is such a word—it was a false entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary . The word was invented by Christine Lindberg, one of the NOAD editors, who defined it as “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities.” The whole thing was part of the dictionary’s strategy for copyright protection. And nihilartikel is a nihilartikel itself—the word originated in a false entry in the German-language Wikipedia. Talk about wordception.

was sind ghost words

was sind ghost words

What Is a Ghost Word?

A ghost word is a word that is invented, often mistakenly, but still becomes a part of the language. One of the most famous ghost words is “dord,” accidentally created by dictionary editors in the 1930s. As dictionaries are the standard authorities on language, such words can be accepted without question. Some ghost words and ghost phrases are the result of mistranslation of a work into English from its original language. Others were invented by writers and became part of the language through popular usage.

Words usually enter a language because of the need to name a thing or concept. In a language like English, they are often derived from words in earlier languages such as French, Latin, or Greek. Other times, a neologism, or new word, is created by altering or combining already existing words. A ghost word is different; it is generally not created by these processes, but is wholly invented, sometimes by accident. Despite this, it passes into common usage, becoming a “real” word.

Dictionaries are the standard authorities on language.

The most well-known example of a ghost word is “dord.” This word was created accidentally created by the editors of the Webster’s Dictionary in the 1930s. An editor submitted a note for the dictionary’s list of abbreviations, citing “D or d” as chemists’ shorthand for “density.” A proofreading error resulted in “dord” being listed as a synonym for density. Later editors removed the entry, but not before the word had been used elsewhere, whimsically or otherwise.

A ghost word is a word that is invented, often mistakenly, but still becomes a part of the language.

Another common form of the ghost word is a “ghost phrase,” such as the famed “glass slipper” from the fairy tale Cinderella . Despite the dangerous impracticality of such footwear, the glass slipper has become a key feature of the classic story. Scholars suspect this detail was created by mistaking the French word vair , or fur, for verre , glass, when the story was first rendered in English. The Bible has similar mistranslations, such as placing an apple, a fruit not native to the Middle East, in the Garden of Eden. This is probably the result of translating the Latin word malum , which means both “evil” and “apple.”

According to Robert Hendrickson’s Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins , a ghost word can result from a nonsense word invented by a writer. A prime example is “jabberwocky,” invented by Lewis Carroll for his poem of the same name. Several other nonsense words from Carroll’s poem have joined the English language as well, including “chortle,” a kind of laugh. Another example is “panjandrum,” coined by 18th-century writer Samuel Foote in a nonsense passage. Although Foote intended to make his passage impossible to memorize, the word panjandrum, meaning a pretentious official, became memorable nonetheless.

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In 1886, a lexicographer named Walter Skeat first used the phrase “ghost words” to describe words that he said had “no real existence.” In other words, ghost words are words that weren’t real to begin with—they made it into the dictionary because of an error or misunderstanding.

For example, it appears that “gravy” only became a word because a 14th-century translator misread a French cookbook. (1, 2) In Old French, the word was spelled with an N: “grane” (also sometimes spelled “grain”), and it was related to the word “grain,” which according to the Oxford English Dictionary meant “anything used in cooking” at the time.

But English cookbooks translated from French in the 14th century and later nearly always have a V or a U instead of the N, leading to the word “gravy” that sounds so right to us today. Researchers believe it was simply a transcription error. If the word had been transcribed properly, we’d be having “grany” on our mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.

In the 15th century, a misprint gave us another ghost word: “syllabus.”  The Roman philosopher Cicero died in 43 BC, but his work has been read ever since. Two of his “Letters to Atticus” ( one ,  two ) have the word “sittybas” (or possibly “sittubas”—sources disagree). Either way, it was a Greek word meaning “a label for a book or parchment” or “title-slip,” but one printing of this work mistakenly spelled the word as “syllabus.” (3, 4)

People apparently thought “syllabus” was Latin, and the spelling stuck so well that “syllabus” took on its new meaning in the mid-1600s and now even has a fake Latin plural: “syllabi” (although “syllabuses” is also listed as an option in all the dictionaries I checked.)

Here’s a more recent misunderstanding that gave us a new word. We got the word “tweed”—a type of wool—from a misunderstanding of the Scottish word “tweel,” which was how the Scots said “twill.” That mistake may have happened because there’s a Tweed river in Scotland, so when people heard or saw “tweel,” they thought of the Tweed River; but regardless of how it happened, “tweed” became an established word for the cloth in London in the mid-1800s. (3, 5, 6)

tweed cats

Here’s an even more recent ghost word you may not have heard of, but it has a quirky origin: “dord.” The story goes that the original dictionary entry was “D or d” (capital “d” or lowercase “d”)—as an abbreviation for “density in physics or chemistry”—but someone who worked on the entry misread it as a word spelled d-o-r-d instead of “D or d,” and thus, the word “dord” was born in the 1934 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary.

I like to imagine a bleary-eyed employee looking at it and thinking, “‘Dord.’ Sounds like a word to me!” but actually, when people working on entries typed out the spelling of a word, it was standard to leave a space between each letter, so it wasn’t so far fetched to think that whoever typed “D or  d” had meant “D  o  r  d” and simply forgot to put a space between the O and the R. (7)

“Dord” isn’t in dictionaries anymore though. A Merriam-Webster editor discovered the mistake, and the entry was corrected 13 years later, in 1947.


Not every non-word that ends up in a dictionary gets there by accident though. Some are intentional, such as the one that was invented by an editor at the New Oxford American Dictionary and was included in the 2001 edition to help the company track copyright violators who were lifting entries from the dictionary. If the made-up word Oxford had created appeared in another dictionary, it would be clear that it had been copied from them.

The word was “esquivalience,” which they defined as “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities.” They even gave it a made-up etymology, saying it arose in the late 19th century, perhaps from the French word “esquiver” meaning “dodge” or “slink away.” (8)

Names for Intentionally Deceptive Words

Some people don’t believe that words created on purpose are true ghost words. The  Merriam-Webster online dictionary definition  for “ghost word” would include such words, but the  entry link  would not.

And there are, in fact, two other words that language geeks use to describe intentionally deceptive non-words: “mountweazel” and “nihilartikel.”


Some encyclopedias also include fake entries to catch copyright infringers, and Henry Alford, the author of a 2005 New Yorker article about “esquivalience,” chose the entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia to coin a term intentional fakes. Amusingly, the encyclopedia described the fake Ms. Mountweazel as

“a fountain designer turned photographer who was celebrated for a collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes titled ‘Flags Up!’” She was said to have been born in Bangs, Ohio, in 1942, only to die “at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for ‘Combustibles’ magazine.” (8)

You can see why Alford chose “mounteweazel” as the term to use for a fake entry.

And yes, I checked: Henry Alford is the name of a real modern writer. I wondered if that was a ruse because Henry Alford is also the name of a well-known language writer from the 1800s.


The German term “nihilartikel” seems to predate “mountweazel” by at least a year or two though as a term to describe an intentionally fake dictionary entry. It’s combination of the Latin “nihil,” meaning “nothing” and the German “Artikel,” meaning “article. I say it predates “mountweazel” by at least a year or two because its origin is a bit in dispute.

Wikipedia and Wiktionary both say it is itself a fake, citing the origin as “a fictitious March 2004 English-language Wikipedia article.” However, the site World Wide Words , which I trust more than Wikipedia says that the word has had “half a dozen appearances in German sources since 2000, more than in English,” suggesting “that it is a real, [but] rare, native German word.”

As an aside, dictionaries and encyclopedias aren’t the only reference works that include fake entries. Maps also sometimes include made-up streets or even towns that publishers can use to track copyright infringement, and these also have multiple names such as “paper towns,” “ phantom settlements ,” and “ trap streets ” since they are used to trap plagiarists.


I’ll finish with one more ghost-y word that arose from a misunderstanding: “phantomnation.”

Reading about these intentionally deceptive words and entries can start to make you paranoid, so when I saw the word “phantomnation” in a   Click to check for reference video about ghost words, and I’d never seen it before, I started to wonder if I was being duped. But I wasn’t, and the story behind it is far more odd than it being merely a transcription error or an intentional ruse.

While trying to confirm that the Click to check for reference video was on the level, I found the word in Google Books from 1891 in a book titled “The Compounding of English Words: When and Why Joining or Separation is Preferable.” Yes, someone wrote a 223-page book about compound words. The author, Francis Horace Teall, seems to have strong feelings about compound words and believes that dictionaries are doing it wrong: they should be much more consistent in how they form compounds.

In one section of the book, Teall describes another author, a Mr. Jodrell, who thought that all compound words should be one continuous word, for example Jodrell wrote “marriagesettlement,” “stagegesture,” and “tapestryhanging” each as one word.  No space between “tapestry” and “hanging” for example. It’s all squished together as one word: “tapestryhangning.”

Teall complains that Jodrell even did this when quoting other authors, and this is where we get to “phantomnation.” When Jodrell was quoting a line from Alexander Pope’s translation of “The Odyssey”—“all the phantom nations of the dead”—he followed his “craze for solidifying” as Jodell called it and wrote “phantomnations” as one word instead of two.

Joseph Worcester’s 1860 Dictionary of the English Language then included the word, defining it as “illusion,” and Webster’s included the same entry in 1864. Teall says that even though it meant “a multitude of spectres” in the quotation, the dictionaries interpreted it as the word “phantom” with the suffix “-ation” and an N added in to make it sound better, instead of realizing that it just came from Jodrell’s odd habit of slamming two words together,

The Oxford English Dictionary still includes “phantomnation” today but without a definition. The entry simply notes that it is a misinterpretation of “phantom nation” and includes the citations from Jodrell, Worcester, and Webster’s.

Other words that arose from errors:

abacot. A misprint of “bycoket,” a kind of cap or head-dress. It appeared in reference books for approximately 300 years before the error was discovered by James Murray, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary . (9)

cherry. According to Merriam-Webster , “The Old North French word for ‘cherry’ is ‘cherise’. English speakers heard the ‘se’ at the end of the word and assumed it was plural, ‘cherries’, and that the singular form of the word must then be ‘cherry.'”

derring-do. Chaucer wrote “in durring don that longeth to a knight” meaning “in daring to do what is proper for a knight.” The phrase was misprinted in a later work by John Lydgate as “derrynge do,” and then taken by Edmund Spenser to mean “brave actions” or “manhood and chevalrie.” Sir Walter Scott used it in Ivanhoe in the manner of Spencer, using the spelling we use today, writing, “if there be two who can do a deed of such derring-do!” (10, 11, 12)

foupe. Multiple sources say that Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary had the word “foupe” when it should have been “soupe” (another word for “swoop”) because the archaic long “s” so closely resembled the letter “f.”

Imogene. The name of the character in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline is hypothesized to be a misspelling of the name Innogen.

Sane (Middle English). In Middle English, “sane” was a verb that meant “to cure” or “to heal.” A work titled Middle English Word Studies: A Word and Author Index lists a 1986 paper by Lister Matheson, and summarizes it as hypothesizing that “sane” was a misreading of the verb “save” (also spelled “saue”) that came from the Latin “sanare,” which meant “to cure” or “to heal.” (13)

  • Burridge, K.  Weeds in the Garden of Words . Cambridge University Press. 2005.  Click to check for reference (accessed October 17, 2019).
  • gravy.  Oxford English Dictionary , Online Version. September 2012.  Click to check for reference
  • Trask, R.L. (ed.)  Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics . Edinburgh University Press. 2000.  this link (accessed October 17, 2019).
  • syllabus.  Oxford English Dictionary , Online Version.  Click to check for reference
  • tweed.  Oxford English Dictionary , Online Version.  Click to check for reference
  • Harper, D. “tweed.”  Online Etymology Dictionary . Click to check for reference (accessed October 17, 2019).
  • Brewster, E. “Ghost Word.”  Merriam-Webster website . Click to check for reference  (accessed October 17, 2019).
  • Alford, H. “Not a Word.”  New Yorker . August 29, 2005. Click to check for reference (accessed October 17, 2019).
  • Quinion, M. “Abacot.”  World Wide Words .  Click to check for reference
  • Martin, G. “derring-do.”  The Phrase Finder .  Click to check for reference
  • derring-do.  Oxford English Dictionary , Online Version. September 2012.  Click to check for reference.
  • Bloomfield, L.  Language . Motilal Banarsidass: India. 2005.  Click to check for reference
  • Sylvester, L. and Roberts, J.  Middle English Word Studies: A Word and Author Index . D. S. Brewer: Cambridge. 2000.  Click to check for reference

Ghost image courtesy of opens in a new window Shutterstock.

Best friend cardi  image, AnaKika at Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Mignon Fogarty is Grammar Girl and the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips. Check out her New York Times bestseller, “ opens in a new window Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing .”

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Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller " Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing ." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular  LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better. Find her on Mastodon .

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What Are Ghost Words?

Have you ever come across a word in the dictionary that looks unfamiliar and strange, only to find out later that it doesn't actually exist?

These words are known as ghost words - non-existent or accidental entries that make their way into dictionaries due to various reasons.

In this article, we will explore what exactly ghost words are and how they came to be.

Quick Summary

  • Ghost words are non-existent words that appear in dictionaries due to errors or misunderstandings.
  • They are often created by typographical errors or misinterpretations of manuscripts.
  • Dictionaries are constantly updated to remove ghost words, but some still persist.
  • One famous example is dord , which appeared in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for 8 years before being removed.
  • Ghost words can be fascinating and provide insight into the history of language and lexicography.



Ghost Words: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

Have you ever encountered ghost words while writing or editing?

These sneaky errors refer to typos or mistakes in dictionaries that never actually existed as real words.

They take up space on the page but have no meaning whatsoever.

As someone who has been writing professionally for over 20 years, I can safely say encountering ghost words while editing work can be frustrating!

It's crucial to know which word sources constitute genuine vocabulary so your content not only avoids inaccuracies but also makes sense.

Why Understanding Ghost Words Matters

Here are some key reasons why understanding more about Ghost Words matters:

  • Identifying reliable dictionary sources ensures accurate language usage.
  • Avoiding confusion caused by using non-existent words improves communication clarity.
  • Enhancing credibility through precise terminology strengthens readers' trust in written material.

For instance, imagine reading a medical article where the author uses 'abdominoplastyphobia.' This term may seem legitimate at first glance because it follows typical compound-word conventions (combining abdominoplasty + phobia).

However, 'abdominoplastyphobia' doesn't exist anywhere except within one erroneous source from 1934!

Don't fall prey to ghostly grammar gaffes! Always double-check unfamiliar terms against multiple reputable resources before including them in any piece of writing – whether academic papers or casual emails alike – to ensure accuracy and precision every time!

Analogy To Help You Understand

The origins of ghost words.

the origins of ghost words

The Intriguing World of Ghost Words

As a linguistics enthusiast, I find ghost words to be an intriguing topic.

These enigmatic terms have puzzled lexicographers for centuries and their origins are equally fascinating.

What are Ghost Words?

Ghost words first emerged from printing errors in early printed books.

The meticulous process involved compositors setting up metal frames with individual letters that were then combined to form pages.

Mistakes often occurred during this complex procedure, resulting in the creation of new non-existent words - commonly referred to as 'ghost' words .

It's important not to confuse them with typographical errors; they aren't misspellings or punctuation mistakes but completely made-up terms without any meaning at all.

5 Interesting Points about Ghost Words

While seemingly insignificant on their own merit-ghosts hold valuable insights into our past linguistic practices and offer us glimpses into how languages evolve over time through human error!

Example where I used AtOnce's AI language generator to write fluently & grammatically correct in any language:

AtOnce AI language generator

This word was supposed to mean density but it turned out that it was just a mistake where someone had written D or d on a slip of paper indicating whether the term should be capitalized or not.

  • Another well-known instance is “abacot,” which appears only once—in Samuel Johnson’s dictionary—and whose definition reads simply “a kind of cap.”
  • Some ghost words can even become part of everyday language usage over time due to repeated use by people who assume they're real
  • In some cases, these fictitious terms may also reveal something about societal norms and values prevalent at the time when they originated
  • With modern technology making publishing easier than ever before, we might see fewer instances of ghost words appearing today compared with earlier times when manual typesetting processes were used extensively

Ghost words hold valuable insights into our past linguistic practices and offer us glimpses into how languages evolve over time through human error!

Some Interesting Opinions

1. Ghost words are a hoax perpetuated by lazy writers.

2. The use of ghost words is a sign of intellectual laziness.

3. Ghost words are a symptom of a larger problem in education.

4. The use of ghost words is a form of cultural appropriation.

5. The overuse of ghost words is a form of linguistic pollution.

Famous Examples Of Ghost Words In History

famous examples of ghost words in history

Ghost Words: A Cautionary Tale

Ghost words have fascinated people throughout history.

One famous example is the word dord, which appeared in Webster's New International Dictionary in 1934 as a noun meaning density.

However, it was later discovered to be a typographical error for D or d, which meant either density or denser.

This mistake went unnoticed until an editor caught it five years later.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is known for its exhaustive research and detailed definitions.

Despite this reputation, they included a completely bogus entry - ESQUIVALIENCE : “The willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities.” It wasn't discovered until years later that the term never actually existed outside their dictionary.

While embarrassing, we can learn from this experience how much work goes into compiling such extensive resources.

“These examples highlight the importance of thorough editing and fact-checking when creating any type of content. Even reputable sources like dictionaries are not immune to errors slipping through the cracks. As writers and editors, we must take responsibility for ensuring our work is accurate before publishing it.”

Ghost words serve as cautionary tales about mistakes that can happen even with careful attention paid to detail.

By learning from these experiences and taking steps to prevent similar errors in our own writing processes, we can create high-quality content that accurately reflects our expertise while avoiding unnecessary confusion or embarrassment down the line.

How Ghost Words Are Created

how ghost words are created

What are Ghost Words and Why Do They Happen?

Ghost words are typographical errors that occur when a word is accidentally added to the dictionary.

But, it's crucial to understand how these mistakes happen and why they're so common.

Reasons for Ghost Word Creation

One reason for their creation is poorly developed software programs used by editors or proofreaders.

These tools often suggest non-existent words or jargon from specific fields, leading to ghost words if accepted without verification against credible sources.

Additionally, human error in transcribing printed texts into digital form also contributes significantly towards creating such mistakes.

Here are five insightful points on what causes ghostwords:

  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology lacks accuracy
  • Online plagiarism tools can mistakenly identify duplicated terms as new entries
  • Dictionary attacks in cyberattacks add fake terminologies within systems using brute-forcing techniques
  • Newer generations tend to adopt language quickly and may create new slang terms unknowingly
Understanding the root cause of ghostword creation helps prevent them from occurring frequently.

Preventing Ghost Words

It's essential always to verify suggestions made by editing software with reliable sources before accepting them blindly - this will help avoid adding unnecessary terminology into dictionaries inadvertently.

By being mindful of potential pitfalls like online plagiarism detection algorithms and brute-force hacking attempts targeting your system’s vocabulary database – you'll be better equipped at preventing future occurrences while keeping up-to-date with evolving languages trends!

My Experience: The Real Problems

The role of dictionaries in perpetuating ghost words.

the role of dictionaries in perpetuating ghost words

The Impact of Dictionaries on Ghost Words

As a language expert, I know that dictionaries play a significant role in perpetuating ghost words.

While their primary purpose is to provide accurate definitions of existing words and meanings, they can unintentionally include imaginary or obsolete terms.

Dictionaries have the power to create new words by adding them to their list of entries.

These newly invented or borrowed expressions become part of our vocabulary without having any real meaning or usage.

Additionally, some obscure phrases from old texts may make their way into modern-day dictionaries due to historical importance, even though we no longer use them today.

It's essential for us as linguists and writers alike always be aware when using certain terminology so that we do not inadvertently propagate these 'ghost' concepts further through continued usage over time!

Five Important Things You Need to Know

  • New invented/borrowed expressions get added every year
  • Some obsolete forms survive due to historical significance
  • Dictionaries may add unused words which people don't actually use
  • Ghost Words exist in all languages - not just English
  • The role played by dictionary makers changes as technology advances
Remember, as language evolves, so do dictionaries. It's up to us to be mindful of the words we use and the impact they have on perpetuating ghost words.

Detecting And Correcting Ghost Words In Modern Times

detecting and correcting ghost words in modern times

Eliminating Ghost Words in Your Writing

As a writer, encountering ghost words in your writing can be frustrating.

Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier to detect and correct these unwanted words.

Tools for Identifying and Correcting Ghost Words

Various tools are available for identifying and correcting ghost words.

Two popular options include:

  • Grammarly: an online grammar checking tool that not only detects ghost words but also suggests corrections.
  • Hemingway Editor: a useful tool that highlights unnecessary or vague phrases that may contain potential ghosts.

While these automated tools are helpful, there's no substitute for good old-fashioned proofreading when removing pesky ghosts from our writing.

Even after utilizing such software programs, it's still important to read through your work line by line looking for any remaining errors.

Quick Tips for Detecting and Correcting Ghost Words

Here are five quick tips on detecting and correcting ghost words:

  • Read your work out loud. This can help you catch any awkward phrasing or missing words.
  • Use different colored highlighters. Highlighting different types of errors can help you stay organized and focused.
  • Take breaks between editing sessions. Giving your brain a break can help you come back to your work with fresh eyes.
  • Ask someone else to review your content with fresh eyes. A second set of eyes can often catch mistakes that you may have missed.
By following these simple steps along with leveraging helpful technologies like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor, you can eliminate those sneaky little mistakes hiding within your text!

My Personal Insights

Usage and impact of ghost words on language learners.

usage and impact of ghost words on language learners

The Challenge of Ghost Words in Language Learning

Learning a new language can be challenging, and ghost words only add to the difficulty.

These words can cause confusion and hinder comprehension, making it crucial for students to understand their usage and impact.

Ghost words can appear while reading or listening, leaving students perplexed.

Using ghost words in communication can also hinder clarity between speakers of different languages due to cultural differences.

This can lead to one party not fully grasping certain unspoken phrases' meaning.

Here are five key points about the usage and impact of ghost words:
  • Usage varies within regions even in the same country
  • They influence accent/pronunciation
  • Non-native speakers might get misled by slang expressions
  • Has its own unique lexicon requiring special instruction
  • Can make it difficult for non-native speakers who want fluency but struggle with colloquialisms

It's important for language learners to be aware of ghost words and their impact on comprehension.

By understanding their usage and meaning, students can improve their language skills and achieve fluency.

How Scientific Advances Have Contributed To The Creation And Dissemination Of Ghosts Vocabularies

how scientific advances have contributed to the creation and dissemination of ghosts vocabularies

The Impact of Scientific Advancements on Language

Scientific advancements have led to the creation of new words.

With technology becoming more prevalent in our lives, it's necessary to invent terms for these innovations.

Who would've thought smartphones and emojis would be part of daily vocabularies?

As knowledge expands into specialized areas like medicine and engineering, obscure terms emerge.

Ghost vocabularies can arise when experts introduce technical jargon or acronyms without explanation. This leaves outsiders struggling to understand their meaning. Academics compound this problem by using terminology that impresses peers but doesn't communicate effectively with non-experts.

Factors Contributing to Ghost Vocabulary Creation

  • New technologies such as AI
  • Specialized fields leading to obscure terms
  • Lack of clear explanations behind technical jargon
  • Academic use of impressive yet ineffective terminology
  • Rapidly evolving industries requiring constant term invention

For example, cloud computing was once an unfamiliar concept now commonly used due to its relevance in modern society.

As language experts, it's our responsibility to ensure that technical terms are explained in a clear and concise manner. By doing so, we can prevent the creation of ghost vocabularies and promote effective communication across all fields.

Analysis: Is It Ethical To Include Fictional Lexicon In A Dictionary

analysis  is it ethical to include fictional lexicon in a dictionary

Incorporating Fictional Terms in Dictionaries: Ethical or Not?

Adding ghost words and fictional terms to a dictionary is a contentious issue.

Some critics argue that it undermines language's integrity, while others believe it to be an exercise in futility.

Personally, I find such additions both valid and fascinating.

Including them within the dictionary can enhance our understanding of how we use language over time.

It also helps readers comprehend references from literature or pop culture with ease, making communication more effective without fear of being misunderstood.

Including fictional terms within the dictionary can enhance our understanding of how we use language over time.

Is it Ethical to Include Fictional Lexicon in a Dictionary?

Here are five key takeaways on whether inclusion of fictional lexicon in a dictionary is ethical:

  • Expands awareness: Fictional terms expand one's knowledge base around different cultures' linguistic expressions.
  • Encourages creativity: Fictional lexicons encourage creatives like writers to push against traditional boundaries when creating new works.
  • Bridges social gaps: An inclusive approach towards incorporating diverse languages promotes cultural exchange by bridging social divides between communities.
  • Reflects societal changes: The addition of modern slang reflects current trends and evolving attitudes among younger generations who shape society’s future direction through their vernacular usage patterns.
  • Enhances learning experience: Incorporation of these types of lexical items makes reading material more engaging which enhances overall learning experiences.

Fictional lexicons encourage creatives like writers to push against traditional boundaries when creating new works.

Overall, the inclusion of fictional terms in a dictionary is a positive development.

It expands our understanding of language and culture, encourages creativity, and bridges social gaps.

It also reflects societal changes and enhances the learning experience.


As a seasoned writer, I'm fascinated by how small errors can impact our understanding of language.

One such example that often goes unnoticed is ghost words.

These phantom words arise from printing or transcription mistakes and offer us a glimpse into the evolution of English.

Ghost words reveal much about their era and demonstrate how languages remain fluid and adaptable.

Ghost words are words that have been created due to a misprint or transcription error.

They are not real words, but they have made their way into dictionaries and other written works.

These words are often the result of a typographical error or a misreading of a manuscript.

What Do Ghost Words Tell Us?

Ghost words provide insight into the development of language over time.

Although they don't serve any purpose in communication today, they reveal much about their era.

Even minor blunders demonstrate how languages remain fluid and adaptable.

By recognizing them, we gain a deeper appreciation for subtleties within written texts.

Ghost words are a fascinating reminder of how language is constantly evolving.

Examples of Ghost Words

One example of a ghost word is dord, which appeared in the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary.

It was supposed to be an abbreviation for density, but it was actually a misprint.

Final Takeaways

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Affordable and easy to use - get started today, what are ghost words.

Ghost words are words that have been created due to errors in transcription, misinterpretation, or mispronunciation, and have no actual meaning or historical usage.

How are ghost words created?

Ghost words are created when a word is mistakenly transcribed, misinterpreted, or mispronounced, and then published in a dictionary or other reference material, leading to its widespread usage despite having no actual meaning or historical usage.

Can ghost words be removed from dictionaries?

Yes, ghost words can be removed from dictionaries once they are identified as having no actual meaning or historical usage. However, they may continue to be used in popular culture or literature even after their removal from dictionaries.

Asim Akhtar

Asim Akhtar

Asim is the CEO & founder of AtOnce. After 5 years of marketing & customer service experience, he's now using Artificial Intelligence to save people time.

Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of ghost word in English

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  • There are scores of ghost words in dictionaries .
  • Wherever words are arranged in lists , ghost words may occasionally appear .
  • Ghost words may be misprints or mispronunciations.
  • abbreviated form
  • accommodation
  • Americanism
  • productively
  • receptively

Examples of ghost word

Translations of ghost word.

Get a quick, free translation!


Word of the Day

something that someone who is taking a photograph of you tells you to say so that your mouth makes the shape of a smile

Going the extra mile and elbow grease (Idioms for making an effort)

Going the extra mile and elbow grease (Idioms for making an effort)

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Ghost Words: 5 Fake Words Once Haunting Our Dictionaries

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Does your writing bring ghost words back from the dead?

Don’t be spooked. Ghost words have haunted our publications for centuries, lurking in dark corners of our dictionaries until skilled wordsmiths—think linguistic Ghost Busters—zap them from official documentation.

Except, of course, the Internet.

We often say or write words that aren’t actually words . But when these fake words receive false backing from published dictionaries, it can be difficult for even professionals to detect what’s a real word and what’s, well, dead.

So, what are ghost words? And what fake words have skulked the pages of our books?

What are Ghost Words?

Professor Walter W. Skeat, a well-respected lexicographer, was the first to coin the phrase. As delivered in his Philological Society presidential address in 1886 ( start at page 350 ), Skeat states that ghost words are “words which have no real existence.”

Like ghosts, we may seem to see them, or may fancy that they exist; but they have no real entity. We cannot grasp them; when we would do so, they disappear. Professor Walter W. Skeat

In short, a ghost word is a fake term that was once published in dictionaries due to an error or a misunderstanding, be it a misinterpretation, mispronunciation, misreading or a typo. While ghost words are accidentally published in dictionaries and authoritative reference works, they tend to be used rarely (if ever) in actual conversation or written communication.

Ghost Words Once in Our Dictionaries

Ghost words creep across the globe, infiltrating languages from every continent. While a ghost word can speak in many tongues, the focus of this blog post is to capture ghost words in the English language.

In turn, ghost words often appeared in literary works over the years but never as defined words in dictionaries and/or authoritative reference books. These ghost words are not included in this list for that reason.

As the most commonly referenced ghost word, dord was once believed to mean “density,” according to the 1934 second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary.

Except that it doesn’t. Dictionary editor Philip Babcock Gove caught the mistake five years later, noticing that dord lacked etymology.

After checking the files, he found a note from Chemistry editor Austin M. Patterson that read “D or d, cont./density.” Patterson’s intention was to add the word “density” to the existing list of words that the letter D (either capitalized or lowercase) can abbreviate.

Instead, “D or d” became its own accidental word as “dord” with the definition of “cont./density,” bypassing printers and proofreaders as a real word.

While Merriam-Webster stopped publishing “dord” as a word by 1940, this ghost word kept popping up in textbooks and other publications until 1947. It wasn’t until May 1954 that Gove set the record straight in American Speech .

This ghost word has haunted us for hundreds of years, debuting in the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles in 1587. This comprehensive history of England, Scotland and Ireland claimed that a “ high cap of estate, called Abacot ” was made like a double crown and worn anciently by the Kings of England.

This lordly ghost word ascended the linguistical throne with its later publication in Spelman’s Glossarium (first English dictionary for law terms) and every prominent dictionary after that. James Murray, primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, ended its reign in 1882 when he made the case that abacot was actually a misprint of “bycocket” (a hat shaped like a bird’s beak).

Like any infamous word, abacot is dying a slow death. Authors and students of heraldry mistakenly include the ghost word within their papers and publications since it can be referenced in older, revered publications.

Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, with editions between 1755 and 1785, is known for being flawed. After all, his publication did claim that no word began with the letter X .

Then again, Johnson did have the courage to publish the word “arse” for the first time .

It shouldn’t be a surprise that his dictionary holds a ghost word or two. Johnson defines adventine as “adventitious; that which is extrinsically added.” He notes that adventine is a “word scarcely in use” with Francis Bacon’s Historia Naturalis a s his source :

As for the peregrine heat, it is thus far true, that, if proportion of the adventine heat be greatly predominant to the natural heat and spirits of the body, it tendeth to dissolution or notable alteration. Historia Naturalis

However, on closer inspection, Bacon’s work actually intended the word to be “adventive.” Coincidentally enough, this word is also in Johnson’s dictionary with Bacon again as his source, as are hundreds of words within the 1755 edition .

Johnson wasn’t the only one fooled. In fact, multiple US newspapers published “adventine” as a word within their articles as late as 1920.


Talk about a ghostly ghost word! Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language in 1864 defined phantomnation as the “appearance as of a phantom; illusion.”

Dictionaries often listed Alexander Pope’s 1725 translation of The Odyssey as their example ( which has since been corrected ):

These solemn vows and holy offerings paid To all the phantomnations of the dead.

Thing is, phantomnation actually derives from the phrase “phantom nation” or “phantom-nation.” In fact, it first appeared in Richard Paul Jodrell’s The Philology of English Language. Since he dropped hyphens from compound words, phantom-nation appeared in print as phantomnation.


Your guess on the meaning of this ghost word is close to its fictitious definition: “muttering talk.” That’s what was printed in the Oxford English Dictionary for momblishness which closely resembles the word “mumble.”

Turns out, this ghost word came to be from a scribal error, as detected by our dear friend Professor Skeat. As discussed at a Philological Society meeting in 1896 , the misspelling first appeared in William Thynne’s publication The Workes of Geffray Chaucer in 1532 within the ninth stanza of the poem “The Assembly of Ladies”:

And howe they [the daisies] were acompanyed with mo Ne momblysnesse and souenesse also ; The poure penses were not disloged there ;

Because the poetry is referencing flowers here, “ne momblysnesse” is supposed to be “ne-m’oublie-mies” (plural for forget-me-nots). Just as “sounesse” is supposed to be “sovenez” (remember mes) and “penses” is supposed to be “pansies.”

The spelling of these words has since been corrected in Chaucer’s poem , thanks to Skeat. How momblishness crept into dictionaries isn’t certain, but it evaporated from reference book pages soon after Skeat’s discovery.

Did I miss any important ghost words? Share your spotted ghost words in the comments section below.

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This article is a fascinating exploration of ghost words, which are fake terms that have found their way into dictionaries due to errors or misunderstandings. It’s intriguing to learn about these ghostly words that have haunted our dictionaries for centuries, and how they have been eventually debunked by diligent lexicographers like linguistic Ghost Busters.

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Old English gast "breath; good or bad spirit, angel, demon; person, man, human being," in Biblical use "soul, spirit, life," from Proto-West Germanic *gaistaz (source also of Old Saxon gest , Old Frisian jest , Middle Dutch gheest , Dutch geest , German Geist "spirit, ghost"). This is conjectured to be from a PIE root *gheis- , used in forming words involving the notions of excitement, amazement, or fear (source also of Sanskrit hedah "wrath;" Avestan zaesha- "horrible, frightful;" Gothic usgaisjan , Old English gæstan "to frighten").

Ghost is the English representative of the usual West Germanic word for "supernatural being." In Christian writing in Old English it is used to render Latin spiritus (see spirit (n.)), a sense preserved in Holy Ghost . Sense of "disembodied spirit of a dead person," especially imagined as wandering among the living or haunting them, is attested from late 14c. and returns the word toward its likely prehistoric sense.

Most Indo-European words for "soul, spirit" also double with reference to supernatural spirits. Many have a base sense of "appearance" (such as Greek phantasma ; French spectre ; Polish widmo , from Old Church Slavonic videti "to see;" Old English scin , Old High German giskin , originally "appearance, apparition," related to Old English scinan , Old High German skinan "to shine"). Other concepts are in French revenant , literally "returning" (from the other world), Old Norse aptr-ganga , literally "back-comer." Breton bugelnoz is literally "night-child." Latin manes probably is a euphemism.

The gh- spelling appeared early 15c. in Caxton, influenced by Flemish and Middle Dutch gheest , but was rare in English before mid-16c. Sense of "slight suggestion, mere shadow or semblance" (in ghost image , ghost of a chance , etc.) is first recorded 1610s; sense of "one who secretly does work for another" is from 1884. Ghost town is from 1908. Ghost story is by 1811. Ghost-word "apparent word or false form in a manuscript due to a blunder" is from 1886 (Skeat). Ghost in the machine was British philosopher Gilbert Ryle's term (1949) for "the mind viewed as separate from the body." The American Indian ghost dance is from 1890. To give up the ghost "die" was in Old English.

"to ghost-write," 1922, back-formation from ghost-writing (1919) "article written by one man upon material supplied in interview or otherwise by a second and which appears in print over the signature of such second party" ["The Ghost Writer and His Story" [Graves Glenwood Clark, in "The Editor," Feb. 25, 1920], from ghost (n.) "one who secretly does work for another (1884). Related: Ghost-written . Ghost-writing also was used from c. 1902 for secret writing using lemon juice, etc. A late 19c. term for "one whose work is credited to another" was gooseberry-picker .

Entries linking to ghost

in Roman religion, "spirits of the dead considered as tutelary divinities of their families," from Latin manes "departed spirit, ghost, shade of the dead, deified spirits of the underworld," usually said to be related to Latin m ā nus "good," thus properly "the good gods," a euphemistic word. De Vaan cites cognates Old Irish maith , Welsh mad , Breton mat "good." The ultimate etymology is uncertain (compare mature ).

Three times a year a pit called the mundus was officially opened in the comitium of the Roman Forum, to permit the manes to come forth. The manes were also honored at certain festivals, as the Parentalia and Feralia; oblations were made to them, and the flame maintained on the altar of the household was a homage to them. [In this sense often written with a capital.] [Century Dictionary]

Origin and meaning of spirit

mid-13c., "life, the animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Anglo-French spirit , Old French espirit "spirit, soul" (12c., Modern French esprit ) and directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (of respiration, also of the wind), breath;" also "breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence life itself.

The Latin word also could mean "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance." It is a derivative of spirare "to breathe," and formerly was said to be perhaps from a PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (source also of Old Church Slavonic pisto "to play on the flute"). But de Vaan says the Latin verb is "Possibly an onomatopoeic formation imitating the sound of breathing. There are no direct cognates." Compare conspire , expire , inspire .

In English it is attested from late 14c. as "divine substance, divine mind, God;" also "Christ" or His divine nature; also "the Holy Ghost; divine power." Also by late 14c. as "the soul as the seat of morality in man," and "extension of divine power to man; inspiration, a charismatic state; charismatic power," especially in reference to prophecy.

The meaning "supernatural immaterial creature; angel, demon; an apparition, invisible corporeal being of an airy nature" is attested from mid-14c. The word is attested by late 14c. as "ghost, disembodied soul of a person" (compare ghost (n.)). Spirit-rapping , colloquial for spiritualism in the supernatural sense, is from 1852. Spirit-world "world of disembodied spirits" is by 1829.

It is attested from late 14c. as "essential nature, essential quality." The non-theological sense of "essential principle of something" (as in Spirit of St. Louis ) is attested from 1680s and was common after 1800. The Spirit of '76 in reference to the qualities that sparked and sustained the American Revolution of 1776 is attested by 1797 in William Cobbett's "Porcupine's Gazette and Daily Advertiser."

It also is attested from mid-14c. in English as "character, disposition; way of thinking and feeling, state of mind; source of a human desire;" in Middle English freedom of spirit meant "freedom of choice." It is attested from 1580s in the metaphoric sense of "animation, vitality," and by c. 1600 as "frame of mind with which something is done," also "mettle, vigor of mind, courage."

From late 14c. in alchemy as "volatile substance; distillate" (and from c. 1500 as "substance capable of uniting the fixed and the volatile elements of the philosopher's stone"). Hence spirits "volatile substance;" the sense of which narrowed to "strong alcoholic liquor" by 1670s. This also is the sense in spirit level (1768), so called for the liquid in the clear tube.

According to Barnhart and OED, the earliest use of the word in English mainly is from passages in the Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah . A distinction between soul and spirit (as "seat of emotions") became current in Christian terminology (such as Greek psykhē and pneuma , Latin anima and spiritus ) but "is without significance for earlier periods" [Buck]. Latin spiritus , usually in classical Latin "breath," replaced animus in the sense "spirit" in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Greek pneuma .

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9 Fun Words for Ghosts and Goblins


: a ghost or goblin believed to portend misfortune and sometimes appearing in the shape of a large dog

Is a barghest ’s bark worse than its bite? Listen, we are but humble lexicographers and not particularly keen to find out, so we’ll stick to etymology (but if you want to go toe-to-paw with one, be our barguest: barguest is a spelling variant). Barghest is thought perhaps to have formed as a combination of the English word bar (sometimes spelled bargh ), meaning “ridge,” and ghest , an alteration of ghost .

There is a vague legend floating about the parish concerning a man who was killed somewhere near the Rushpit, and whose restless spirit “walks” in Kint’s Lane at midnight. And a barghest has been encountered, it is said, in the Green Way. For the benefit of those whose education in these matters has been neglected, it may be explained that a “barghest” is the spectre of a dog, and its appearance is a fore-runner of disaster. But let no one be alarmed. Ghosts do not hurt people in the twentieth century. — F. G. Slater, A Cheshire Parish: Being a Short History of Ince, Drawn from the Parish Records and Other Sources (G. R. Griffith Ltd., 1919)


: a specter or ghost especially in the form of an animal

Even if you’ve never heard the word before, we’re sure you’re likely familiar with the concept behind guytrash . No, we don’t mean piles of empty pizza boxes and energy drink bottles ( rim shot ) but rather a ghostly, supernatural animal. Like the ominous barghest, a guytrash can take the form of a spooky doggo, but it can assume other animal forms as well. The earliest known use of guytrash in print (spelled gytrash ) is from 1847, when none other than Charlotte Brontë included it in Jane Eyre .

There is a certain type of phantom that has a definite leaning toward the north of England. It is called a ‘ Guytrash ’, and takes the form of either a large dog or a riderless horse. — Peggy Hewitt, These Lonely Mountains: A Biography of the Brontë Moors (Springfield Books, 1985)



: a noisy usually mischievous ghost held to be responsible for unexplained noises (such as rappings)

Ghosts throughout the centuries have not only assumed various human and non-human forms, but have had different temperaments, quirks, pet peeves and pet pleasures. Poltergeists , by and large, have gotten a reputation as things that go bump in the night, clattering and clanging and, as our entry suggests, rapping (that is, knocking on something with one’s spectral knuckles, not reciting “Award Tour,” which would be pretty great). So it comes as no surprise that poltergeist translates literally from German as “knocking spirit.” The German verb poltern means "to knock,” and Geist is the German word for “spirit.”

When I get no letter from her I lift an astral letter from the pile and pretend to read it. When I walk alone in the evening she walks beside me, her ectoplasm , her poltergeist walks beside me. I've got to exorcise her somehow. — Maxwell Anderson, The Eve of St. Mark: A Play in Two Acts (Anderson House, 1942)



: the ghost of a man killed in a mine

Get a lode of this: like its fellow the poltergeist, the tommy-knocker is a noisy ghost, though one who haunts a very specific locale: mines . The term was first recorded in the late 1800s in the western United States, and is thought to have arisen from the belief that ole Tommy was responsible for the creaking of timbers late at night in the mines.

When I die (said the mining engineer) do not bury me at all; Cache me on the bottom level, with a pick beside my pall ; Leave a candlestick and matches, then cave the stopes and drifts, And I’ll be a tommy-knocker for a hundred thousand shifts. — Samuel B. Ellis, The Canadian Mining Journal , 8 Oct. 1920


: a ghost or phantom

Ghost stories are full of shades and shadows, so why not umbras? After all, the Latin word umbra literally means “shade or shadow,” and has given English a range of words. An umbrella can provide us with shade from the sun. So can an umbrageous tree. (In this case, umbrageous means “affording shade.”) Umbra itself has also been used for centuries, and today refers to dark or shady spots, such as the central dark spot of a sunspot. But umbra ’s oldest sense in English is as a synonym of ghost or phantom .

It was in many parts of Greece custom: try to place a coin in the mouth of the corpse, so that the umbra might have the means of paying the ferryman, and thus avoid becoming forever a wanderer in the marshes on the murky shores of the Acheron. After crossing the river, the umbra came to the gates of Persephone’s kingdom, where stood the triple-headed watch-dog Kerberos, who never prevented any one from going in, but never let any one out. — Daniel Quinn, Harper’s , November 1901


Lubber fiend

: a helpful goblin that does household chores at night

If your house has to be haunted, let it be so by a lubber fiend . It may be worth being creeped out in the middle of the night once in a while to wake up to clean dishes drying on the rack, fresh laundry folded nice and neat. We suppose if you leave a note asking nicely, a lubber fiend might also throw out your guytrash !

Lob Lie-by-the-fire, the Lubber-fiend, as Milton calls him—is a rough kind of Brownie or House Elf, supposed to haunt some north-country homesteads, where he does the work of the farm laborers, for no grander wages than “—to earn his cream-bowl duly set.”— Juliana Horatia Ewing, Stories by Juliana Horatia Ewing (Duffield and Company, 1920)


: a mischievous or malicious specter, goblin, or ghost

You may familiar with the word boggart from a certain children’s fantasy book (and film) series , referring to ghostly beings that take the form of someone’s deepest fear. Such boggarts are perhaps a subclass of the original boggart, with the word boggart originating in the 1500s to refer to a particularly gloomy sort of ghost. Boggart also appears to be related to the Middle English word for a scarecrow.

For an instant he heard the thread of a laugh, from the thing in the boat that he could not see. A very ancient, mischievous thing, solitary and sly, born of a magic as old as the rocks and the waves. A thing that had lived in Castle Keep for all the centuries of the MacDevon clan, and longer. The Boggart had come shopping too. — Susan Cooper The Boggart , (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1993)


: a mischievous or malignant goblin or specter held in Irish folklore to appear in the form of a horse and to haunt bogs and marshes

Pooka comes from the Irish Gaelic word pūca , and may also be related to the English word Puck , also known as Robin Goodfellow , a mischievous sprite of English folklore who influenced the character of Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream .

It being a November spirit, however, tells in favour of the Pooka, for November-day is sacred to the Pooka. … He has many shapes—is now a horse, now an ass, now a bull, now a goat, now an eagle. Like all spirits, he is only half in the world of form. — W. B. Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (Walter Scott, 1888)


: a friendly goblin or brownie of Scandinavian folklore that frequents farm buildings

Like the lubber fiend , the nisse loves tidying up and, according to the respective quotations for both goblins in this article, cream. Unlike the lubber fiend, however, the nisse prefers hanging out in farm buildings. To each their own! The important thing is that the chores are done, so you can put your feet up. Interestingly, nisse is an alteration of Nils , aka Saint Nicholas.

Only the tiny manikin called nisse still makes his home in the barns throughout Norway. He is a harmless creature, dressed in red blouse and pantaloons and wearing a red cap. A mischievous fellow loving horseplay, he upsets the milk pails in the cow barn and causes other troubles on the farm unless he is well fed. Consequently, the farmer must share his Christmas Eve dinner with this manikin, placing cream porridge out in the barn. The next morning the bowl is empty proof of the presence of these manikins unless one should happen to quiz the cat or dog! — Axel H. Oxholm, National Geographic , April 1939

one owl cleaning up another owl

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Ghost Words That Are Haunting The Dictionary

was sind ghost words

Boo! It's a ghost ... word

Have you ever heard of the term ghost word ? It doesn’t have a direct connection to Halloween . . . although that’s a good guess. No, a ghost word is a word that “has come into existence by error rather than by normal linguistic transmission, as through the mistaken reading of a manuscript, a scribal error, or a misprint.” And, we’ve collected our favorite ghost words that scare us daily …

WATCH: What Scares A Dictionary? Ghost Words!

Dord  is a truly great ghost word if there ever was one. The original Webster’s New International Dictionary listing was like this: D or d . This was an abbreviation for “density in physics or chemistry.” Then, it seems that in 1931, a chemistry editor sent in a slip that read D or d, cont./density . The point was to add density to the list of words that the letter D can abbreviate.

And, it seems these slips used hyphens to separate letters. So, it read D-or-d . Whoever was inputting this entry viewed it as a word ( dord) rather than seeing it as a choice, D or d . It made it into the dictionary in 1934 and the error was discovered five years later … yet it continues to appear.

We all know what the word tweed  means—”a coarse wool cloth in a variety of weaves and colors.” My, that’s a spiffy tweed jacket you’re wearing today!

But, the word may have come from a misuse of the Scottish word tweel , which was how they pronounced the word twill  (“a fabric constructed of twill weave”). Eventually, tweed  and  twill  became synonymous as it gained the meaning we all know today.

This one goes way back—even farther back than the usual “back in the day.”

It seems there was a Roman philosopher by the name of Cicero, who died in 43 BC. He wrote two “Letters to Atticus,” and they contained the word sittybas  (or maybe sittubas) . There’s some debate on that, it seems. This was a Greek word meaning a “ label  for   a   papyrus   roll.”

However, it’s suspected that one printing of this work misspelled it as syllabus . The spelling stuck, and so it began to also mean “a label for a papyrus roll” as well. This morphed into its current meaning: (“an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum, etc.”) in the mid-1600s.

Cairbow slipped into an early 20th-century proof of the Oxford English Dictionary in an example sentence for the word glare : “It (the Cairbow) then suddenly squats upon its haunches, and slides along the glare-ice.” But, what is a Cairbow ? Some rare creature that lives in the caves of the North Pole? Sounds fierce!

Nope, just a mistake—they meant to say caribou , as in “a really big deer.”

Somehow, someway, back in 1587, abacot made it into the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles , a book on British history. About 300 years later, the word was discovered by the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary as a typo of the word bycoket , which is “a cap or head-dress.”

That’s a really big typo . . . .


You might expect this one has to do with your mom. Did she do something silly, like send you a Halloween card for your birthday? Oh, that’s just some momblishness .

Nope, nothing to do with dear old mom. The Oxford English Dictionary cites this as “explained as: muttering talk.” It does sound like mumble , too.

The OED puts it down to “scribal error” of “the plural of ‘ne-moubliemie,’ French for the forget-me-not flower.”


Sometimes, words aren’t the only fictional things that show up in historical and educational works of information. In 1975, the New Columbia Encyclopedia included an entry on one Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, supposedly an American fountain designer who did a photo book about rural American mailboxes. The encyclopedia wrote that sadly, she died in an explosion while working on a piece for Combustibles magazine. (This should have been a tip-off to some.)

Miss Lillian was a totally fictional creation, yet she may show up in other encyclopedias and reference books. This was proof that others “borrowed” from New Columbia. Ahem.

This word appeared (or mistakenly appeared, perhaps?) in the Edinburgh Review , in the context of a sentence referring to Hindus stabbing their hands with kimes . Hm, is that going to leave a mark?

While the natural assumption would be that a kime is some sinister torture device, it was just a typo for the word knives .

There is such a thing as morse code , of course. And, we define morse   itself as “a clasp or brooch used to fasten a cape in the front.” However, in this instance, morse  was a misinterpretation of the common word nurse .

Sir Walter Scott’s 1821 book The Monastery  contained the sentence, “‘Dost thou so soon morse thoughts of slaughter?'” It was supposed to say nurse , as in “to nurture” or “to care for.”


Phantomnation  appeared in the 1864 edition of Webster’s. They called it a rare word meaning “‘the appearance of a phantom, illusion,” and attributed it to the poet Alexander Pope in his translation of The Odyssey , which contained the line “all the phantom nations of the dead.”

A man named Richard Paul Jodrell made a habit of consolidating two-word phrases, and he did it to “phantom nation” for his 1820 title Philology of the English Language , which then caused it to appear in the dictionary in that form.

Can you guess the definition?

[ d uh ri- gur ]

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ghost noun & adjective

  • Show all quotations

In other dictionaries

  • gāst, gǣst in Dictionary of Old English
  • gōst, n. in Middle English Dictionary

What does the word ghost mean?

There are 33 meanings listed in OED's entry for the word ghost , eight of which are labelled obsolete. See ‘Meaning & use’ for definitions, usage, and quotation evidence.

ghost has developed meanings and uses in subjects including

How common is the word ghost ?

How is the word ghost pronounced, british english, u.s. english, where does the word ghost come from.

Earliest known use

Old English

The earliest known use of the word ghost is in the Old English period (pre-1150).

ghost is a word inherited from Germanic.

Nearby entries

  • ghillie, v. 1886–
  • ghillieing, n. 1877–
  • ghillie suit, n. 1980–
  • Ghilzai, n. 1826–
  • Ghiordes, n. 1900–
  • gho, n. 1980–
  • ghoema, n. 1934–
  • ghoen, n. 1913–
  • ghoonghat, n. 1902–
  • ghoont, n. a1613–
  • ghost, n. & adj. Old English–
  • ghost, v. a1616–
  • ghost account, n. 1933–
  • ghost band, n. 1962–
  • ghost bat, n. 1914–
  • ghost bike, n. 2004–
  • ghost bird, n. 1851–
  • ghostbuster, n. 1930–
  • ghostbusting, n. & adj. 1929–
  • ghost candle, n. 1885
  • ghost car, n. 1931–

Meaning & use

Neque enim est spiritus in ore ipsorum : ne ne soðlice is gast on muðe heora.
Þa æt nehstan wæs geþuht, þæt fram him eallinga se liflica gast ut eode, & se lichama þær wunode orsawle.
God sylf ȝyfæð alle monnum lif & gast .
Ha ȝeide to godd & walde aȝeouen hire gast in to his honden.
His gast bigan to quiken egain.
He gird to the ground & the gost past.
But when indeede she found his ghost was gone, then Sorrowe lost the witte of vtterance.
They suffer hunger, and cold, needs and necessities, the tormenting diseases, and anguishes of the body: and at last yield up the Ghost to Death it self.
I should have poured out tears of friendship at the footstones of his cross, while he was yielding up the ghost .
He gasped up the ghost .
He lay there for many minutes, and in one of those many minutes, his ghost left his body.
  • blood Old English– Blood regarded as the fluid which sustains life, lifeblood; (hence) the vital principle, that upon which life depends; (metonymically) life…
  • ghost Old English– The animating or vital principle in humans and animals; that which gives life to the body, in contrast to its purely material being; the life…
  • life Old English– In extended use: something which represents the cause or source of living or of vitality; a vivifying or animating principle; a person who or that…
  • life and soul Old English– life and soul . Cf. body , n. I.1b and heart and soul , n.
  • soul Old English–1697 The condition or attribute of life in humans or animals; animate existence; this viewed as a possession of which one is deprived by death. Obsolete .
  • spiritus Old English– The animating or vital principle in living things; spirit, soul, or life force.
  • quickship ?c1225 = quickness , n.
  • quickness c1230– The quality or fact of being alive or living; life, vitality, vital principle. Now literary .
  • breath a1300– The faculty or action of breathing; respiration. Hence: existence, life.
  • spirit a1325– The animating or vital principle in humans and animals; that which gives life to the body, in contrast to its purely material being; the life…
  • spark 1382– The vital or animating principle in man; a trace of life or vitality. Frequently in vital spark , spark of life .
  • nature c1385–1836 The power or force which is fundamental to the physical and mental functioning of a human being. Obsolete .
  • sparkle 1388– A vital or animating principle. rare .
  • liveliness a1398– Vivacity, animation; (also) †vitality ( obsolete ).
  • rational soul a1398– Of a person, a person's soul, mind, etc. Having the faculty of reasoning; endowed with reason. Esp. in rational being , rational creature , rational …
  • spiracle 1398–1654 Breath, spirit. Obsolete .
  • animal spirit ?a1425– Medicine and Physiology . The (supposed) agent responsible for sensation and movement, originating in the brain and passing to and from the periphery…
  • vital spirit c1450–1715 Maintaining, supporting, or sustaining life. vital spirit , vital spirits . Cf. spirit , n. VI.21. Obsolete .
  • soul of the world 1525– The animating principle of the world; = anima mundi , n. Cf. world-soul , n.
  • candle 1535–1768 figurative . The ‘light’ of life.
  • fire 1576– The animating or vital principle in living things; life force; vital spirit. Also in plural in same sense. Cf. spirit , n. I.i.1a.
  • three souls 1587– Applied to various divisions of the soul into three elements, esp. those distinguished in Platonic philosophy as rational, sensitive, and…
  • vitality ?1592– Vital force, power, or principle as possessed or manifested by living things (cf. vital , adj. A.I.1); the principle of life; animation.
  • candlelight 1596 figurative . ‘Light’ of life. Cf. candle , n. 3b. Obsolete .
  • substance 1605 The vital, principal, or most necessary part of something. Obsolete .
  • vivacity 1611–1747 Vital force or power; vitality. Obsolete .
  • animality 1615– The state or fact of being an animal; animal nature or life; vital power. Now rare .
  • vividity 1616 Living force, vitality. Obsolete . rare .
  • animals 1628–75 In plural , with the . Short for animal spirits : see animal spirit , n. Obsolete . rare .
  • life spring 1649– The spring or source of life; frequently in extended use.
  • archeus 1651– The immaterial principle supposed by the Paracelsians to produce and preside over the activities of the animal and vegetable economy; vital force…
  • vital 1670 The vital spirit or principle. Obsolete . rare .
  • spirituosity 1677 Animating force, energy, or spirit; vital nature or quality. Cf. spirituose , adj. Obsolete . rare .
  • springs of life 1681– figurative and in figurative contexts. springs of life : that which gives, motivates, or inspires liveliness or an enthusiasm for life.
  • microcosmetor 1684– In the terminology of J. Dolaeus: the (supposed) ruler or ruling principle of the animal spirits (and of the body as a whole), located in the brain.
  • vital force 1702– An immaterial force or principle viewed as present in and animating living things and sustaining their… In singular .
  • vital spark (also flame) 1704– vital spark (†also flame) . Cf. spark , n.¹ 3.
  • stamen 1718–25 The supposed germinal principle or impulse in which the future characteristics of any nascent existence are implicit.
  • vis vitae 1752– In special collocations with other Latin words. vis vitae , vital force.
  • prana 1785– Breathing, respiration; the breath as the sign of life; the life principle inhabiting all animate things. In meditation: a breath, a single…
  • Purusha 1785– Universal spirit, soul; spec. (in Sankhya philosophy) the animating principle which, with prakriti and guna, gives rise to the material, sentient…
  • jiva 1807– Life, the soul, the self; the vital principle.
  • vital force 1822– An immaterial force or principle viewed as present in and animating living things and sustaining their… In plural .
  • heartbeat 1828– figurative and in extended use. The life force, heart, or essence of something; an animating or vital energy. Cf. pulse , n.² 2.
  • world-soul 1828– The animating principle which informs the physical world; cf. soul of the world n. at soul , n. phrases P.5.
  • world-spirit 1828– (a) The spirit of worldliness; the spirit of the secular world; (b) the immanent principle underlying or shaping the world, esp. (in Hegelian…
  • life energy 1838– Vital energy; = life force , n.
  • life force 1848– (a) Vital energy; a force that gives something its vitality or strength; cf. élan vital , n. , will to live , n. ; (b) the spirit which animates living…
  • ghost soul 1869– (In the context of spiritualism and shamanism) the soul of a human or animal that animates the body but can exist and travel separately from it, as…
  • will to live 1871– (a) Philosophy the drive within a being to promote its own existence; a drive to produce and continue the species; (b) the enjoyment of living, the…
  • biogen 1882–93 A hypothetical vital principle animating living matter, conceived as a tenuous or immaterial substance of which the soul or spirit is composed…
  • ki 1893– Vital energy; circulating physical life-force, the existence and properties of which are fundamental to the theory and practice of many forms of…
  • mauri 1897– A life force or essence, an animating principle; the inherent quality of something.
  • élan vital 1907– In the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859–1941), a vital impulse or life force, of which we are aware intuitively; spec. , an original impetus of…
  • orgone 1942– In the psychoanalytical theory of Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957): a supposed excess sexual energy or life force distributed throughout the universe which…
Witudlice se gast is hræd [Latin spiritus quidem promptus est ] & þæt flæsc ys untrum.
Ðe lichame winneð toȝenes þe gost .
I mene ðe stedefast, In riȝte leue mid fles & gast .
Quils his licam lai vnder stan, In gast es he til hell gan.
Deuoydit was his spritis and his gost .
Whose faire immortall beame, Hath darted fyre into my feeble ghost .
It will be a good step towards the knowledg of what the world ought to be to us, who are body and ghost together.
Descend, and touch..That in this blindness of the frame My Ghost may feel that thine is near.
Mr James accepted the invitation of the Indians to indulge in a sweat-bath (which they believe to be efficacious in purifying both body and ghost ).
There are many philosophical moments, particularly about the meaning of a person's ‘ ghost ’ or soul.
  • ghost Old English– The spiritual or abstract part of a person, as distinct from the physical part; a person's emotional, mental, and moral nature. Also: (esp. in a…
  • heart Old English– The seat or repository of a person's inmost thoughts, feelings, inclinations, etc.; a person's inmost being; the depths of the soul; the soul, the…
  • inner man Old English– inner man . The inner or spiritual part of man; the soul or mind. Also, inner woman .
  • mood Old English–1540 Mind, thought, will. Also: heart, feeling. Obsolete .
  • soul Old English– With possessive adjective or genitive.
  • womb Old English–1382 In biblical use: the stomach as the seat of the feelings and affections; the heart, the soul. Obsolete .
  • sprite 1340–1928 The non-physical aspect of a person, esp. considered as the seat of the character, emotions, will, etc. (cf. spirit , n. I.ii); (also) the soul of a…
  • inwit 1382–84 (Rendering Latin animus .) Heart, soul, mind; cheer, courage.
  • conscience c1384– A person's inmost thought or feelings; a person's mind or heart. Now rare .
  • spirit c1384– As a mass noun. Incorporeal, immaterial, or abstract being, as opposed to body or matter ; being or intelligence conceived as distinct from, or…
  • mind a1387 The faculty of memory. Obsolete .
  • spirt c1415–1782 Spirit or a spirit (in various senses of spirit , n. ).
  • esperite 1477–81 = spirit , n.
  • inward man 1526 Applied to the mind, thoughts, and mental faculties as located within the body; hence to mental or spiritual conditions and actions, as…
  • pneuma 1559– Spirit, soul, or life force; ( Theology ) the spirit of God; ( History of Science ) the invisible fluid or spirit permeating the body and forming the…
  • esprite 1591 Mind, spirit , n.
  • internal a1594– A faculty or quality of the mind or soul; (also) the inner nature or character of a person, etc.; the spirit.
  • interior 1600– Inner nature or being; inward mind; soul, character. Now chiefly with of .
  • entelechy 1603– In Aristotle's use: The realization or complete expression of some function; the condition in which a potentiality has become an actuality.
  • inside 1615– figurative . Inward nature, mind, thought, or meaning. (Sometimes with humorous suggestion of sense A.1b)
  • psyche 1648– The mind, soul, or spirit, as distinguished from the body.
  • sprit 1653– General attributive (in sense 3b), as sprit mast , sprit rig , etc. Cf. spritsail , n. 2a.
  • citta 1853– The mind as the seat of both thoughts and feelings; a person's cognitive and emotional faculties considered collectively. Cf. heart-mind , n. , bodh …
  • undersoul 1868– ( under- , prefix¹ affix 3a.ii.)
  • Geist 1871– Spirit; spirituality; intellectuality; intelligence.
  • heart-mind 1959– (Chiefly in Eastern religions) the mind as the seat of both thoughts and feelings; a person's cognitive and emotional faculties considered…
  • soul Old English– The seat of a person's emotions, feelings, or thoughts; the moral or emotional part of a person's nature; the central or inmost part of a person's…
  • stead c1200–1412 In various rare or occasional uses. Abiding-place (of hope, passions, etc.).
Þær bið ceole wen sliþre sæcce, gif hine sæ byreð on þa grimman tid, gæsta fulne. biuoren þe keiser & keneliche cleopede ‘..ich am her þu hatele gast mid alle mine hirdmen.’
Þe kyng..brohte from alemayne mony sori gost to store Wyndesore.
Aigolandus was a lewed goost , and lewedliche i-meved as þe devel hym tauȝte.
Graceles gostis , gylours of hem-self..sawe no manere siȝth saff solas and ese.
No knight so rude, I weene, As to doen outrage to a sleeping ghost .
  • ghost Old English–1590 A person; an individual. Cf. soul , n. III.9a, spirit , n. I.ii.4b. Obsolete .
  • had Old English–1225 Person (in various senses).
  • life Old English– In concrete applications relating to living beings. A person or other being endowed with life; a living being, a person. In later use Scottish ( Orkney …
  • lifesman Old English–1663 A living person.
  • man Old English–1597 A human being. As a designation applied equally to particular individuals of either sex. Obsolete .
  • son of man Old English– A male human being; (also) a mortal. Also in plural as sons of men . Now rare ( poetic or archaic in later use).
  • world-man Old English– A person of this world, a human being. In later quots.: a person regarded as a type of humankind; one whose interests transcend nationality.
  • wye Old English–1568 A noble, vigorous man; hence gen. , a man, a person.
  • wight c1175– A human being, man or woman, person. Now archaic or dialect (often implying some contempt or commiseration).
  • soul c1180– A person; an individual. In early use also: a living thing. Chiefly with preceding number or quantifier, as every .
  • earthman c1225–1848 A person who lives on earth as opposed to heaven. Obsolete .
  • food c1225–1607 A child regarded as one who is fed or nurtured. Also in wider sense: a person, a creature. Obsolete .
  • person ?c1225– An individual human being; a man, woman, or child.
  • creature c1300– A human being; a person, an individual. With modifying word indicating the type of person, and esp. expressing admiration, affection, compassion…
  • mother child c1300–1400 A person. Cf. mother's child , n. , mother's son , n.
  • body c1325– An individual; a person, typically one of a specified type or character. Now regional and colloquial .
  • beer a1382–1602 One who is or exists; sometimes spec. the Self-existent, the great I Am .
  • poppet c1390– A small or dainty person. In later use frequently as a term of endearment, esp. for a child or young woman: darling, pet. In early use occasionally derogatory , with overtones of senses 2 and 3: cf. puppet , n.
  • flipper a1400 A flippant and unreliable person.
  • wat 1399–1534 A person; esp. a great wat .
  • corse c1400–40 transferred . Person; a man's self. Obsolete .
  • mortal ?a1425– colloquial . A person. Frequently in negative contexts as an emphatic equivalent for ‘(any) one’, ‘(no) one’.
  • deadly ?c1450–1685 absol. A mortal; usually as plural . Mortals, human beings. Obsolete .
  • he c1450– A man (in the generic sense, or with maleness as a secondary consideration); a person, a personage. † any he : any person whatever ( obsolete ). Chiefly…
  • personage c1485– In weakened sense: a person; an individual (without the implication of status or importance).
  • wretch a1500– A person or little creature. (Used as a term of playful depreciation, or to denote slight commiseration or pity.)
  • human 1509– A human being, a person; a member of the species Homo sapiens or other (extinct) species of the genus Homo .
  • mundane 1509–56 A dweller in the earthly world. Obsolete .
  • member 1525– colloquial in later use. Short for ‘member of the community’; a person, a citizen.
  • worm a1556–1631 figurative . With qualification expressing tenderness, playfulness, or commiseration: A human being, ‘creature’. Obsolete . (In 16th cent. esp. loving …
  • homo 1561–1886 A human being; humankind. Obsolete .
  • piece of flesh 1567– A living person, a human being.
  • sconce 1567– A jocular term for: The head; esp. the crown or top of the head; hence, ‘head’, ability, sense, wit. †Also put for the person himself or herself.
  • squirrel ?1567– Applied to other animals or to persons, usually with contemptuous force.
  • fellow creature 1572– A person or thing regarded as sharing, with another specified person or thing, the fact of being a product of divine creation; (in a more secular…
  • Adamite 1581– A person who is descended from the biblical Adam, esp. a member of a specific branch of humanity derived from the biblical Adam rather than some…
  • bloat herring a1586– A smoked half-dried herring, cured by the process described in bloat , v.¹ ; a bloated herring, a bloater. Also a term of contempt for a human being. ?…
  • earthling 1593– An inhabitant of the earth as opposed to heaven.
  • mother's child 1594– A person (with general application). Chiefly in every mother's child . Cf. mother's son , n. 1.
  • stuff 1598– transferred and figurative in non-physical senses. Applied to a person: chiefly with qualifying word. See also hot stuff , n. & adj.
  • a piece of flesh 1600 That which has corporeal life. all flesh , †each flesh ( omnis caro , Vulgate = Hebraistic Greek πᾶσα σάρξ ): all animals; in narrower sense, all…
  • wagtail 1607–1783 transferred . A familiar or contemptuous epithet or form of address applied to a man or young woman. Obsolete .
  • bosom 1608–1756 Transferred to a person. (Cf. the similar use of hand , heart , head , etc. for their possessor.)
  • fragment 1609–16 Applied to a person as a term of contempt.
  • boots 1623– In various combinations (humorous or colloquial) = ‘Fellow, person’: as clumsy-boots , lazy-boots ; see also sly-boots , n. , smooth-boots , n.
  • tick 1631– Applied in contempt or insult to a person. Frequently as little tick . colloquial .
  • worthy 1649– Used humorously or ironically without the implication of distinction or eminence: a person, an individual.
  • earthlies 1651– In plural . Earthly beings; earthlings. rare .
  • snap 1653–1703 Applied to persons in somewhat slighting use, but without implication of bad qualities.
  • pippin 1665– A person. Originally derogatory : a young, foolish, or naive person. In later use chiefly as a term of endearment: a dear; a darling; a pet. Now rare .
  • being 1666– A living creature, either corporeal or spiritual; esp. a human being, a person (frequently used with either contemptuous or idealistic…
  • personal 1678 A person. Obsolete . rare .
  • personality 1678– A person, esp. one considered as the possessor of individual characteristics or qualities. Also: a being resembling or having the nature of a person…
  • sooterkin 1680– transferred . Chiefly applied to persons in allusive senses; sometimes = Dutchman. Also attributive .
  • party 1686– With a . A person. (In early quots., a particular use of sense II.6a.)
  • worldling 1687– An inhabitant of the world. Cf. earthling , n.² 1a.
  • human being 1694– A person, a member of the human race; a man, woman, or child.
  • water-wagtail 1694– figurative . A person likened to a water-wagtail, esp. in being flighty, appealing, or delicate. Cf. wagtail , n. 3. Now rare .
  • noddle 1705– colloquial . A person, spec. a foolish person. Now rare .
  • human subject 1712– The human being, regarded as a matter for study or observation.
  • piece of work 1713– colloquial (frequently derogatory ). A person, esp. one notable for having a strong (usually unpleasant) character. Usually with modifying word; cf…
  • terrestrial 1726 A terrestrial being; esp. a human being, a mortal; in quot. 1602, a man of secular estate, a layman.
  • anybody 1733– A person of any sort, an ordinary person; esp. (somewhat depreciative ) a person of no distinction or importance (opposed to somebody , n. 2a). Cf. n …
  • individual 1742– In contexts where a group is not specified or implied: a human being, a person. In later use also (somewhat colloquial and frequently depreciative …
  • character 1773– Without premodifying adjective or noun. A person, an individual, a personage. Now colloquial and frequently mildly derogatory .
  • cuss 1775– Originally U.S. Originally: a contemptible or worthless person, a good-for-nothing. Later more generally, usually with modifying word: a person of a…
  • jig 1781 Applied ludicrously to a horse, a person, etc. colloquial .
  • thingy 1787– Originally and chiefly Scottish . A little thing. Also more generally: a thing (usually with some suggestion of small size).
  • bod 1788– = body , n. in various senses; (esp.) a person. (In Scottish quots. 1788, 1813, perhaps shortened from bodach , n. )
  • curse 1790– = cuss , n. 2.
  • his nabs 1790– Only with possessive adjective, as his nabs , etc.: a self-important or superior person; (in weakened sense) a person. Now rare except in my nabs n. …
  • article 1796– colloquial (frequently derogatory ). A person. Formerly also ( U.S. ): †a slave regarded as an item of merchandise ( obsolete ).
  • Earthite 1814– A native or inhabitant of earth.
  • critter 1815– An animal, a beast; spec. an ox or cow; a horse; a chicken; a person (usually disparaging).
  • potato 1815– colloquial (chiefly humorous ). A person or character, esp. of a specified sort (usually with negative or derogatory connotations).
  • personeity c1816– That which constitutes a person or (esp.) God; personal or divine essence; (in weaker sense) personality. Also concrete : a being (esp. God) having…
  • nibs 1821– Originally: the person in question, the person being (implicitly) alluded to. Now chiefly: the person in authority, as an employer, superior, etc…
  • somebody 1826– Caribbean and U.S. regional ( southern ) in African American usage in the areas of South Carolina and Georgia where Gullah is spoken. Also s'mady , s …
  • tellurian 1828– An inhabitant of the planet earth; an earthling. Chiefly Science Fiction in later use.
  • case 1832– slang . In extended uses of senses 7, 8. Originally U.S. With preceding modifying word: used (usually disparagingly) to denote a person of the sort…
  • tangata 1840– In Māori parlance: a person, a human being.
  • prawn 1845– figurative and in extended use. A person likened to a prawn in appearance or character, esp. in being foolish or foolish-looking.
  • nigger 1848– This word is one of the most controversial in English, and is liable to be considered offensive or taboo in almost all contexts (even when used as a self-description). Now chiefly in African American usage: a person, a fellow (regardless of skin colour).
  • nut 1856– slang (chiefly U.S. ). Chiefly with modifying word: a person. Usually somewhat depreciative . Now rare .
  • Snooks 1860– A proper name or familiar appellation applied to a hypothetical person in a particular case (see quots.); (also) any individual person. Cf. Joe Bloggs …
  • mug 1865– A person, fellow, chap (now archaic ); spec. (a) a rough or ugly person; a criminal; (b) Criminals' slang a person who is not part of the…
  • outfit 1867– slang (chiefly U.S. ). An individual, a person. Now somewhat depreciative.
  • earth people 1868– People, regarded as the inhabitants of this world, as opposed to the spiritual or supernatural realm; human beings. Cf. earth , n.¹ II.9a.
  • to deliver the goods 1870– colloquial (originally U.S. ). to deliver (also come up with, produce) the goods : to do what one has promised to do or what is necessary to meet…
  • hairpin 1879– A jocular word for: a person. Also: a thin person. slang (originally U.S. ).
  • baby 1880– colloquial . Originally and chiefly U.S. A person (of either sex). this baby : the speaker himself or herself. Cf. babe , n. 4a.
  • possum 1894– Australian colloquial . Used as a mildly depreciative term for a person: a creature. Also as a playful or affectionate mode of address.
  • hot tamale 1895– U.S. slang . Chiefly in hot tamale . A person, esp. one characterized as being eager, popular, or otherwise ‘hot’ (in various senses). Now rare …
  • babe 1900– colloquial (originally U.S. ). A person (of either sex). Frequently as a form of address. Cf. baby , n. A.6d.
  • jobbie 1902– U.S. A person. Cf. job , n.² 8. Now rare .
  • virile 1903– Of persons. absol. as n. A virile person.
  • cup of tea 1908– Used of a person.
  • skin 1914– Originally and chiefly Irish English colloquial . As a term of friendship: a person, esp. a man; a ‘chap’, a ‘sort’. Usually with a positive…
  • pisser 1918– Originally U.S. Originally: a particularly fine or impressive person or thing. Later more generally: something remarkable or formidable.
  • number 1919– colloquial . A person or thing. A person, esp. a girl or young woman. Frequently with modifying word. Also: spec. a sexual partner.
  • job 1927– colloquial (originally U.S. ). Chiefly with modifying word. A person, esp. a young woman, of a kind specified or evident from the context.
  • apple 1928– colloquial (chiefly U.S. ). A person; a fellow, a guy. Usually with preceding adjective.
  • finger 1930– slang (now rare ). British (chiefly London ). A person; a fellow; a ‘bloke’.
  • mush 1936– A man, a fellow, a ‘bloke’. Frequently as a form of address.
  • face 1944– slang . Originally U.S. An individual, a person.
  • jong 1956– Originally: a (young male) slave. Later also: a young black or Coloured ( coloured , adj. A.I.3d) male servant, esp. a houseboy. Also as a form of…
  • naked ape 1965– A human being, esp. as viewed from a biological perspective. Usually with the .
  • oke 1970– = okie , n.² Also (more generally): a fellow, a person (of either sex).
  • punter 1975– Scottish colloquial . Simply: a person. Sometimes depreciative .
Se haliga frofre gast þe fæder sent on minum naman [Latin paracletus autem Spiritus Sanctus quem mittet Pater in nomine meo ] eow lærð ealle þing.
On þam dæge [ sc. Sunday] Godes gast com to mancynne.
& godess gast iss kariteþ & soþfasst lufe nemmnedd.
Þe uerste libbeþ be þe ulesse..Þe zixte be þe goste and be þe loue of god.
He schall giffe baptyme more entire in fire and gaste .
He saw y e heavens departed, and y e ghoost to come down lijk a doov on him.
God's Spirit is no private empty shade But that great Ghost that fills both earth and sky.
I was baptized with the Ghost that is Holy, which is the Ghost of God.
'Tis man himself, the temple of thy Ghost .
When the folk went into the wilderness Driven by the ghost of God, I guess, They heard a voice and they saw a face.
To the blasphemously disposed, the trio of Father, Son and Ghost sounded like one of those species-crossing families in the movies, Tarzan, Jane and Cheetah, say.
  • ghost Old English– Theology . The divine nature or essential power of God, regarded as a creative, animating, or inspiring influence. In later use: spec. the Third…
  • Holy Ghost Old English– Chiefly with the and capital initials. The Third Person ( person , n. III.6a) of the Trinity, God as spiritually active in the world; = Holy Spirit , n. …
  • Holy Spirit c1350– Chiefly with the and capital initials. The Third Person ( person , n. III.6a) of the Trinity, God as spiritually active in the world; = Holy Ghost , n. …
  • spirit c1384– Theology . The divine nature or essential power of God, regarded as a creative, animating, or inspiring… With the and (usually) capital initial.
  • Spirit of Truth (formerly also Verity, Soothness) c1384– Spirit of Truth (formerly also †Verity, †Soothness) : the Holy Spirit.
  • dove 1707– figurative and transferred . Applied to the Holy Spirit.
Se Godes wer þurh witedomes gast [Latin per prophetiae spiritum ] þone storm toweardne foreseah.
Nu weron summe dwolmen mid deofles gaste ifulled þe nolden ilyfæn [etc.] .
Ah is an heouenlich gast in hire swa aȝein us þet we ne cunnen..warpen na word aȝein.
Þe gost of wysdome and of onderstondinge, þe gost of strengþe and of uirtue, þe gost of wytte and of pite, þe gost of godes drede..byeþ þe graces huer-of he wes al uol.
Thow seyst nat soth quod he þou sorceresse, with al þi fals gost of prophesie.
The gast of god in hym [ sc. Samuel] dyscend, wher by he cowth tell talys trew.
  • ghost Old English–1450 A quality, virtue, or insight; esp. one regarded as divine in origin. Also: a quality or insight which is regarded as coming from the Devil…
  • grace c1300– Theology . An individual virtue or excellence which is regarded as divine in origin. Cf. sense I.4b.
  • cherub a1340–1650 In early use: ( cherubin , -yn , -ym ). A reproduction of the Latin form, apparently treated as singular… Explained as ‘fullness of knowledge’, or ‘a…
[Mercian dialect] Os meum aperui et adtraxi spiritum : muð minne ic ontynde & togeteh gast .
Sumum wordlaþe wise sendeð on his modes gemynd þurh his muþes gæst , æðele ondgiet.
Heofonas synd gefæstnode þurh þæt halige Godes word, & þurh his muðes gast heora miht is getrymmed.
Þe boke says, alswa, þat he, Thurgh þe gast of Goddes mouthe slayn sal be.
  • blead Old English–1175 Blowing, breath, inspiration.
  • breath Old English–1540 An odour, a smell. Obsolete .
  • ethem Old English–1225 Breath; vapour. Also: a blast of air, fire, or smoke.
  • fnast Old English–1250 Breath.
  • ghost Old English–1425 The breath of God or a god. Occasionally also more generally: breath. Obsolete .
  • wind Old English– Air inhaled and exhaled by the lungs: = breath , n. 3 Obsolete except as coloured by II.11d below.
  • blas ?c1225–1380 A blast, breath.
  • aynd a1300– Breath. Also in to take one's aynd : to catch one's breath ( literal and figurative ).
  • blast a1325– A puff or blowing of air through the mouth or nostrils; a breath. Obsolete or archaic .
  • respiration ?a1425– A single act of breathing.
  • breast 1535–1625 The voice in singing; a person's singing voice. Obsolete .
  • air 1567–1710 Breath; also figurative . Obsolete .
  • respire a1657–1821 An act of respiration; a breath. Also as a mass noun: breathing, respiration.
  • puff 1827– colloquial (originally British ). Breath; available breath, the ability to breathe effectively; (in extended use) energy, stamina. out of puff : out…
[Mercian dialect] Pluet super peccatores laqueos ignis et sulphur et spiritus procellarum pars calicis eorum : rineð ofer ða synfullan giren fyres & swefelrec & gast ysta dael calices heara.
He his word sendeð þuruh windes gast ; blaweð beorhtlice.
Þe gost of tempestes ys partener of her wyckednesse.
He sall rayn on synful.. gast of stormes.
  • blast Old English– A blowing or strong gust of wind.
  • ghost Old English–1500 A blast of strong wind, a gust; the blowing of a storm. Obsolete .
  • rage c1405 In extended use (of a natural force or agent). A fierce blast of wind. Obsolete . rare .
  • blore c1440– A violent blowing, a blast or gust; also figurative stormy breath, bluster.
  • flaw 1513– A sudden burst or squall of wind; a sudden blast or gust, usually of short duration.
  • thud 1513– A blast of wind or tempest; a gust; a squall. (In later quots. including the notion of sound.) Scottish .
  • flag a1522–35 A blast or gust (of wind); a squall. flag of fire : a flash of lightning.
  • fudder a1522– A storm or squall; a sudden violent gust of wind. Also figurative : a sudden noisy or powerful rush; a bustle, a hurry; a disturbance or commotion.
  • flake 1555– A (loose) sheet of ice; a floe.
  • flan 1572– A sudden gust or puff of wind.
  • whid ?1590–1 A squall, blast of wind. Obsolete .
  • flirt a1592– A jerk; a sudden, quick movement; a darting motion; a flick. Also: a gust of wind.
  • gust 1594– A sudden violent rush or blast of wind; †formerly often in less restricted sense, a wind-storm, a whirlwind.
  • berry 1598–1611 A gust or blast (of wind).
  • wind-catch 1610–65 A squall of wind.
  • snuff 1613–42 A puff, blast. Obsolete .
  • stress 1625–1700 A period of stormy or windy weather; a storm, a gale. Also figurative . Cf. sense phrases P.1d. Obsolete .
  • flash 1654–1808 transferred . A sudden burst of rain, wind, steam, etc.; a fit of activity, a spurt. Obsolete .
  • blow 1655– A blowing; a blast. Of the wind. Also, a breath of fresh air; a ‘breather’ (sense 3); to get a blow : to expose oneself to the action of a fresh…
  • fresh 1662– A sudden increase of wind; a gust, squall. Now rare .
  • scud 1694– A sudden gust of wind.
  • flurry 1698– A sudden agitation of the air, a gust or squall.
  • gush 1704– transferred and figurative . A sudden and violent outbreak; a ‘burst’. Of physical phenomena: A gust or rush of wind (now dialect ); a burst (of…
  • flam 1711– = flan , n.¹
  • waff 1727 A puff, passing gust, sudden blast (of wind or air). literal and figurative .
  • flawer 1737 = flaw , n.²
  • Roger's Blast a1825– A sudden small, localized whirlwind. Also Sir Roger's blast . Cf. rodges-blast , n. , Roger , n.² 5.
  • flaff 1827– A flutter or flapping of the wings; also, a puff, gust.
  • slat 1840– A sudden gust or blast of wind.
  • scart 1861– A gust, puff (of wind); a strip (of cloud).
  • rodges-blast 1879– A sudden small, localized whirlwind; = Roger's Blast , n.
  • cannon blast 1885– The destructive physical force of cannon fire; an instance of a cannon or cannons being fired; the sound of this; also in extended use.
  • huffle 1889– A sudden gust of wind, or the sound made by this.
  • slap 1890– A gust of wind.
  • slammer 1891– A violent gust (of wind).
  • Sir Roger 1893– English regional ( East Anglian ). Also Sir Roger . A sudden small, localized whirlwind. Cf. Roger's Blast , n. , rodges-blast , n.
Sume sindon ungesewenlice gastas butan lichoman swa swa synd ænglas on heofonum.
Þe clerkes sede..Þat þer beþ in þe eyr an hey, ver fram þe grounde, As a maner gostes ..Þat men clupeþ eluene.
He þat alle gastes , god and ill, Has for to weld all at his will!
That affable familiar ghost Which nightly gulls him with intelligence.
They need not be concerned for such Trifles as their Souls, nor stand in fear of Angels, or Devils, or any other Ghost , or Power Invisible.
For thousands of years it was believed that ghosts , good and bad, benevolent and malignant, weak and powerful, in some mysterious way, produced all phenomena.
He believed in ghosts good and bad, yet could tell you exactly how electricity was generated and fed into a light bulb.
  • ghost Old English– An incorporeal, supernatural, rational being, of a type usually regarded as imperceptible to humans but capable of becoming visible at will; a…
  • spirit c1350– An incorporeal, supernatural, rational being, of a type usually regarded as imperceptible to humans but capable of becoming visible at will, and…
  • mind a1398– Frequently in theistic (esp. Christian) contexts: transcendent intelligence, rationality, or being, esp. that seen as initiating or controlling…
  • sprite ?1440– An incorporeal or immaterial being; a disembodied spirit or soul; (now usually) spec. a supernatural creature or spirit, typically portrayed as…
  • intelligence a1456– An intelligent or rational being, esp. a spiritual one, or one alien to humankind.
  • intelligency 1582– = intelligence , n. 5a.
  • genio 1590– A supernatural being or spirit; = genius , n. A.I.3. historical and rare after 17th cent.
  • genius a1592– Any supernatural being or spirit. In later use also: spec. = genie , n. 3a.
  • ethereal 1610– An ethereal being, a spirit, an immortal.
  • spirituality 1628–1860 An incorporeal, intangible, or spiritual substance, essence, or entity; a spirit. Cf. spiritual , adj. A.II.10a. Obsolete .
  • supernatural 1660– A supernatural being.
  • jynx 1662– Name of an order of spiritual intelligences in ancient ‘Chaldaic’ philosophy.
  • duende 1691– In the folklore of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines: a supernatural being or spirit, typically short in stature and resembling…
  • atua 1769– A Polynesian name for a supernatural being, god, or demon.
  • nat 1819– In the Indigenous religion of Burma (Myanmar): a spirit, demon, or supernatural being.
  • demon 1822– Esp. in non-Christian contexts: any spirit or supernatural being (not regarded as intrinsically evil).
Þa heo þa heora word..geendedon, & swelce eft mid þæm engelicum gastum to heofonum hwurfen.
Englæs beoð þeiniendlice gastes .
Ich biseh to þe engles..iblescede gastes þe beoð a biuore godd.
I am þe gost of goodnesse þat so wold ȝe gydde.
Ghost ! Angel! Goddesse! Nimph! Speake, daine a word to tell me what thou art, That thus appearst in such a glorious shape To intercept my death?
Some say he was..half God and half man, or the offspring of an heavenly ghost and an earthly virgin.
They puffed their pipes In honour of Waconda, Heaven's Ghost .
I saw several illuminated spirits dressed in white robes walk through the wall of the tabernacle. I knew they were special ghosts from heaven because I could feel a sense of adoration and reverence.
  • angel Old English– In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: a member of a class of celestial beings considered intermediate between God and humanity and typically…
  • ghost Old English– A good spirit; an angel.
  • Son of God a1382– An angel; a divine being. Somewhat rare after 18th cent.
  • saint 1382– In biblical use applied to angels.
  • angel (also spirit) of light c1384– angel (also spirit) of light : an angel or spirit inhabiting Heaven.
  • watcher 1535– One who watches or keeps watch. As the title of a class of angels or of angels generally; tr. Aramaic ʿīr , one who is wakeful.
  • watchman 1552–1613 Applied to angels. Cf. watcher , n. f. Obsolete .
  • angel power 1714– (Frequently in plural ) a powerful celestial being or spirit.
Se ðe wile geornlice ðone Godes cwide singan.., he mæg ðone laðan gæst , feohtende feond, fleonde gebrengan.
Þonne se unclæna gast utfærþ fram menn, he gæð geond drige stowa secende reste.
Herode king maȝȝ swiþe wel. Þe laþe gast bitacnenn.
Swiche hertes fondeð þe fule gost deies and nihtes.
Þou luþere gost and doumb..Ich hote þe þat þov wende hasteliche fram þe childe.
How iesus quen he lang had fast Was fondid wit þe wik gast .
Oure wrestling is..agaynst the spyrituall wycked ghostes of the ayre.
They are filled with the wicked ghost , or spirit full of Satan.
Pointing to him, the foul and ugly Ghosts Of Hell, shall say, ‘ That was an Englishman ’.
I heard a wild scream, and started down the street with all the ghosts of hell at my back.
My mom believed I was possessed by ghosts and that if I didn't have an exorcism then the evil spirits would stay with me.
  • angel Old English– Christian Church . Any of a number of celestial beings believed to have rebelled against God and been cast out of heaven (see Revelation 12:7-9); a…
  • devil Old English– An evil spirit; a demon, a fiend. Any of a number of malignant beings of superhuman nature and powers; an associate or subordinate of Satan; a fallen…
  • ghost Old English– An evil spirit; a demon. Also in the loath (also foul, wicked) ghost : the Devil. rare after 17th cent.
  • hell-devil Old English– A devil from hell; a person likened to such a creature.
  • shuck Old English–1275 A devil, fiend. Obsolete .
  • warlock Old English–1440 A devil, demon, spirit of hell. Obsolete . rare .
  • unwight a1200–75 An evil being or spirit; a fiend or monster; spec. the devil.
  • beast c1225– A devil, a demon, an evil spirit.
  • hell-fiend c1330– A fiend or devil; a fiendish or fiendlike person.
  • ragman c1400–1568 The Devil, or any devil. Cf. ragamuffin , n. A.1, ragged , adj.¹ I.1a. Obsolete . rare .
  • Satanas c1426–1500 A (lesser) devil; = Satan , n. 1b. Obsolete .
  • diabolic 1502– An agent or follower of the Devil; a wicked person.
  • ruffy 1502–1871 (The name of) a devil or fiend. Also in Ruffy Ragman , Ruffy Tasker . Cf. Ruffin , n.¹ , ruffian , n.
  • Satan ?1545– In generalized sense: a devil, an evil spirit, a demon.
  • Avernal ?1548– An inhabitant of Avernus, a devil.
  • fallen angel ?1587– In Christian, Jewish, and Islamic theology: an angel who rebelled against God and was cast down from heaven. Cf. rebel angel , n.
  • rebel angel 1623– In Christian, Jewish, and Islamic theology: an angel who rebelled against God and was cast down from heaven. Cf. fallen angel , n. 1.
  • deedle 1653 = devil , n.
  • blackamoor 1663– Now archaic and offensive . figurative . A devil. rare .
  • man's enemy a1800 The Devil.
  • ne'er 1802– Scottish . euphemistic . The Devil. Only in imprecations.
  • Earl of Hell 1817– (A name for) a fearsome or malevolent person or being, spec. the Devil; also in similative use, esp. in as black (also filthy) as the Earl of Hell's …
  • dickens 1830–1909 With the . The devil. Obsolete .
  • Lucifer 1886– Misused for: A devil.
  • demon Old English– Any evil spirit or malevolent supernatural being; a devil.
  • devilshine Old English– Illusion or delusion caused by or attributed to the Devil; the power or influence of a devil; diabolical works; devilish behaviour. Cf. devilry , n. …
  • evil angel, spirit Old English– Uses partaking of senses A.I.1, A.I.2. evil angel, spirit , etc. Also, the evil one (†Sc. the evil man) : the Devil.
  • unclean Old English– Of a demon, devil, etc.: wicked, evil. Chiefly in unclean spirit n. a demon. Also in extended use.
  • gro a1225 An evil spirit.
  • deblerie a1325 properly . Demoniacal possession: but in quot. 1325 transl. a Latin word meaning ‘demon’.
  • devilness a1400–48 A devil, a demon, a false god; (also) the presence or activity of the Devil or a devil. Cf. devilry , n. 2. Obsolete . rare .
  • devilry c1400–1602 A devil, an evil spirit, esp. one possessing a person. Also: (an instance of) demonic possession. Obsolete .
  • sprat ?a1475–1549 An evil spirit.
  • nicker 1481 A demon, a devil. Obsolete . rare .
  • fiend of hell 1509 An evil spirit generally; a demon, devil, or diabolical being; more fully fiend of hell .
  • imp 1526– spec. A ‘child’ of the devil, or of hell. With parentage expressed: Applied to wicked men, and to petty fiends or evil spirits.
  • virtue 1584 Usually in plural (with singular or plural agreement). In medieval angelology: one of the orders of angels (the fifth in the ninefold celestial…
  • elf 1587–1689 Mythology . Sometimes distinguished from a ‘fairy’: (a) as an inferior or subject species; (b) as a more malignant being, an ‘imp’, ‘demon’; also figur …
  • succubus 1601– transferred . A demon, evil spirit; occasionally a familiar spirit.
  • blue devil c1616– A harmful or malignant demon, esp. one that causes melancholy (cf. sense 2a). Cf. blue , adj. A.II.7a. Now rare .
  • black man 1656– regional and colloquial . An evil spirit; the devil. Also: a bogeyman invoked to frighten children.
  • woolsaw 1757– Among people of African descent in Central America, an evil spirit or demon.
  • buggane 1775– An imaginary evil spirit or creature; a bogeyman.
  • bhut 1785– In India, a spirit; a demon or goblin.
  • demonic 1785– With the . That which is demonic, the nature or qualities of a demon; demons collectively.
  • pishachi 1807– In South Asia: a female demon or devil; (hence) a spring whirlwind. Cf. devil , n. 12.
  • devil-devil 1831– (a) (In Australian Aboriginal belief) an evil spirit; a manifestation of evil; (b) slang very uneven ground which is difficult to traverse…
  • skookum 1838– An evil spirit; a disease. Obsolete exc. Historical .
  • taipo 1840– In Māori tradition: an evil spirit that brings disease or death; a demon, a bogeyman.
  • lightning bird 1870– South African Mythology . A malevolent shape-shifting spirit that most frequently assumes the form of a bird. Also: (a name for) any of various…
  • demonry 1883– Demons collectively.
  • pisaca 1885– A demon, a malignant spirit.
  • mafufunyanas 1963– In plural . The evil spirits which are believed to possess a person suffering from this disorder.
  • mare 1981– British colloquial . A nightmare; an unpleasant, frightening, or frustrating experience; an occasion when everything goes wrong. See nightmare , n. …
[Northumbrian dialect] To ymbhycggannae..huaet his gastae godaes aeththa yflaes aefter deothdaege doemid uueorthae.
Witeð ȝie awariede gostes in to eche fur.
His bodi here, his gast was þar, His goddhede wanted noþer-quar.
He did sacrifice to his Wiues Ghost .
To take full Vengeance for the loss of Rainsborough, to whose Ghost he design'd an ample sacrifice.
When the ghost has been developed into a being of that higher grade [ i.e. a deity] , the food offered does not of necessity involve the shedding of blood of animals or men, but may consist of corn, fruits, or cakes.
Two fir trees under a thatched roof..guard a drinking trough which serves as a memorial to the ghost of a dog. It is inscribed ‘in memory of Jake. 1935’.
When burning spirit money, silver spirit money is for ghosts , whereas gold spirit money for gods.
  • ghost Old English– The soul of a deceased person or animal, conceived of as continuing to exist in an afterlife, apart from the physical world. In later use: esp. the…
  • spirit c1384– The disembodied soul of a deceased person, regarded as a separate entity and invested with some degree of personality and form; = soul , n. II.8. Cf…
  • lemur c1580– In Roman mythology: plural . The spirits of the departed.
  • shade 1616– The visible but impalpable form of a dead person, a ghost. Also, a disembodied spirit, an inhabitant of Hades (= Latin umbra ); chiefly with…
  • idolon 1619– An incorporeal spirit; (sometimes spec. ) an aspect of a person's sensual or physical being considered as persisting after death; (more generally) a…
  • angel 1787– A dead person envisaged as having become an angel; the spirit of a person who has died considered as having passed into heaven. Cf. angel baby , n.
  • shen 1847– In Chinese philosophy: a god, person of supernatural power, or the spirit of a dead person.
  • dybbuk 1877– In Jewish folklore: the malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls the body of a living person until exorcized.
Hire ætywde on nihtlicre gesyhðe hire swyster gast .
Heo i-seiȝe on-ouewarde..A wrechche gost , naked and bar.
This nyght myn faderys gost Hath in myn slep so sore me tormentid.
Fadir, thi drery gost Sa oft apperand, maid me seik this cost.
I'le bury some money before I die that my ghost may hant thee afterward.
Now you would persuade me, you have seen a ghost !
Each hour, at one or the other of certain corners, the lonely copper and the ghost of the dog stop, while the former gazes away into the darkness as if expecting to meet someone.
In front of us a spear's ghost used to fly across the path about that time in the afternoon.
He was in the position of a man who does not believe in ghosts , but does not rest easy in a haunted house.
The foppish ghost of the legendary poet, Hellenophile and all-round hedonist, George Gordon Byron, is said to haunt the halls of Newstead Abbey in Nottingham.
  • ghost Old English– The soul or spirit of a dead person or animal, conceived of as appearing in visible form or otherwise manifesting in the physical world, typically…
  • hue Old English–1603 concrete . An apparition, a phantasm. Obsolete .
  • soul Old English– The disembodied spirit of a deceased person (or occasionally an animal) regarded as a separate entity and invested with some degree of…
  • fantasy c1325–1583 A spectral apparition, phantom; an illusory appearance. Obs.
  • phantom c1384– A thing (usually with human form) that appears to the sight or other sense, but has no material substance; an apparition, a spectre, a ghost. Also…
  • phantasm c1430– An apparition, spirit, or ghost; a visible but incorporeal being. Now archaic and rare .
  • haunter c1440– One who or that which haunts, in various senses; a frequenter.
  • shadow a1464– A spectral form, phantom; = shade , n. II.6.
  • appearance 1488– That which appears without being material; a phantom or apparition.
  • wraith 1513– An apparition or spectre of a dead person; a phantom or ghost.
  • hag 1538–1637 A frightening apparition or creature, esp. a ghost. Obsolete .
  • spoorn 1584–1790 A special kind of spectre or phantom.
  • vizard a1591 A phantasm or spectre. Obsolete . rare .
  • life-in-death 1593– A condition of being or seeming to be neither alive nor dead, a phantom state between life and death; (in extended use) something having the form or…
  • phantasma 1598– = phantasm , n. (in various senses).
  • umbra 1601– The shade of a deceased person; a phantom or ghost. Also figurative .
  • larve 1603– = larva , n. 1.
  • spectre 1605– An apparition, phantom, or ghost, esp. one of a terrifying nature or aspect.
  • spectrum 1611– An apparition or phantom; a spectre.
  • idolon 1612– A non-material image of a person or thing; esp. a mental image, visualization, or conception.
  • apparition a1616– spec. An immaterial appearance as of a real being; a spectre, phantom, or ghost. (The ordinary current sense.)
  • shade a1616– A spectre, phantom. rare .
  • shape a1616– concrete . An imaginary, spectral, or ethereal form; a phantom. Now rare .
  • show a1616–1841 A phantom, a vision, an apparition. Obsolete .
  • larva 1651– A disembodied spirit; a ghost, hobgoblin, spectre. Obsolete exc. Historical .
  • white hat ?1693 Newfoundland . The name of a spirit or ghost. Obsolete . rare .
  • zumbi 1704– Chiefly in West and South-west African (esp. Angolan) contexts: the ghost or spirit of a dead person, esp. a malevolent one. Occasionally also Car …
  • jumbie 1764– The ghost or spirit of a dead person, esp. a malevolent one. Cf. duppy , n. , zombie , n. I.1.
  • duppy 1774– A name among black West Indians for a ghost or spirit.
  • waff 1777– An apparition, wraith. = waft , n.¹ 7.
  • zombie 1788– In parts of the Caribbean (esp. Haiti) and the southern United States: the ghost or spirit of a dead person, esp. a malevolent one. Cf. zumbi , n. , j …
  • Wild Huntsman 1796– A phantom huntsman of Teutonic legend, fabled to ride at night through the fields and woods with shouts and baying of hounds.
  • spook 1801– A spectre, apparition, ghost. Often somewhat jocular or colloquial .
  • ghostie 1810– A ghost.
  • hantu a1811– An evil spirit, a ghost.
  • preta 1811– The disembodied soul of a dead person, esp. before the completion of funeral rites and ceremonies allowing it to leave the world of humans as an…
  • bodach 1814– A peasant, churl; also ( Scottish ) a spectre.
  • revenant 1823– A person who returns from the dead; a reanimated corpse; a ghost. Also figurative .
  • death-fetch 1826– (a) An apparition or double of a living person that is superstitiously believed to portend the person's death; (b) a spirit supposed to come and…
  • sowlth 1829– A formless, luminous spectre. Chiefly in the writings of W. B. Yeats.
  • kehua 1839– The spirit of a dead person; a ghost.
  • haunt 1843– U.S. regional and English regional . A spirit supposed to haunt a place; a ghost. Also (occasionally) in wider use.
  • night-bat 1847– (a) Caribbean ( Barbados and Guyana ) a bat; (b) now literary a ghost, a bogey; (c) chiefly Jamaican , a large night-flying moth.
  • spectrality 1850– A phantasm; ghostliness.
  • thivish 1852– A ghost, apparition, or spectre.
  • beastie 1867– Originally Scottish . A frightening supernatural creature or spirit; a ghost, hobgoblin, or bogey; a monster.
  • barrow-wight 1891– A mound of earth or stones erected in early times over a grave; a grave-mound, a tumulus. Also attributive as barrow-wight n. (see quot. 1891); so…
  • resurrect 1892 A person who has risen from the dead.
  • waft 1897– An apparition, wraith. Cf. waff , n. 5.
  • churel 1901– In India, the ghost of a woman who has died in child-birth, believed to haunt lonely places malevolently and to spread disease.
  • comeback 1908– A person who has returned; (also) a ghost. rare .
Hatefull diuorce of loue, (thus chides she death) Grim-grinning ghost , earths-worme.
A Ghost , or other Idol or Phantasme of the Imagination.
An Apparition is vulgarly call'd by us a Ghost .
A person..may consciously know beforehand what his life is going to be, and a thought or wish in connection with that knowledge may be strong enough to raise a brain image of the past that sufficiently truly pictures the substance of this thought. This is one kind of true ghost or vision.
We saw that first mesa rising out of the plain, with another ghost or mirage mesa hovering over it in the great heat of the dry aromatic air.
  • vision c1290– Something which is apparently seen otherwise than by ordinary sight; esp. an appearance of a prophetic or mystical character, or having the nature of…
  • figure 1340–1616 An insubstantial or imagined form; an apparition, a vision. Obsolete .
  • image c1350– A visible appearance; a manifestation of a figure; an apparition.
  • idol ?a1425– A visible but intangible image such as is produced by an optical illusion, reflection, etc. Sometimes also: an image that only exists in the…
  • beholding c1440– The thing beheld: †(a) an image, a spectre ( obsolete ); (b) a vision ( archaic ).
  • semblance 1489– An apparition or vision ( of a person, etc.).
  • ghost 1593– A thing that merely resembles some other thing in form or appearance, esp. a mirage, reflection, hallucination, etc. Also as a modifier. Now rare .
  • fancy 1609–56 A spectral apparition; an illusion of the senses. Cf. fantasy , n. 2. Obs.
  • species 1639–61 A thing seen; a spectacle; esp. an unreal or imaginary object of sight; a phantom or illusion. Obsolete .
  • spectral a1656 An apparition; a spectre.
  • eidolon 1763– An insubstantial manifestation of a person or (occasionally) thing; a spirit, a phantom; an apparition. Also in extended use.
  • spectre 1801– An image or phantom produced by reflection or other natural cause.
Bot we ne fynde nouȝth þai mowe arere þe ded to lyue. Bot in-to cursed gostes fendes willeþ go.
Kissyng every parte of hys senceles ghoste .
Oft haue I seene a timely parted ghost , Of ashie semblance, pale and bloodlesse.
  • bones Old English– In plural . The skeleton or its constituent parts considered as representative of the body after death; the mortal remains of a person or animal.
  • dust Old English– transferred and figurative (from 1.) That to which anything is reduced by disintegration or decay; spec. the ‘ashes’, or mouldered remains of a dead…
  • hold Old English–1200 A carcass, dead body, corpse.
  • lich Old English– = body , n. A dead body; a corpse.
  • stiff one a1200– Rigid in death. stiff and stark : see stark , adj. A.5b. stiff one , stiff 'un , (a) a corpse ( slang ); (b) slang a racehorse certain to lose or not to run…
  • body c1225– A corpse.
  • carrion ?c1225–1763 A dead body; a corpse or carcass. Obsolete .
  • licham ?c1225–1488 A dead body; a corpse.
  • worms' food or ware ?c1225– worm's (also worms') meat , said of a man's dead body, or of man as mortal. Also †worms' food or ware ; meat for (or †to) worms (cf. to be food for …
  • corse c1250– A dead body; = corpse , n. 2. Now chiefly poetic or archaic . simply .
  • ash c1275– From the ancient custom of burning the bodies of the dead: That which remains of a human body after cremation or ( transferred ) total decomposition…
  • corpse c1315– esp. The dead body of a person (or formerly any animal). simply . (The ordinary current sense.)
  • carcass 1340– The dead body of a person or animal; but no longer (since 1750) used, in ordinary language, of the human corpse, except in contempt (see 3). With…
  • murrain a1382–1632 The flesh of animals that have died of disease (also flesh of murrain ). More generally: dead flesh, carrion. Obsolete .
  • relics a1398– In plural . The remains of a person; the body, or part of the body, of a deceased person (sometimes implying sense 1).
  • ghost c1400–1594 A corpse. Obsolete .
  • wormes ware c1400–50 Food for worms.
  • corpus c1440– The body of a person or animal. (Cf. corpse , n. 1.)
  • scad c1440 A corpse.
  • relief c1449 The body, or part of the body, of a dead person, esp. a saint; a relic. rare .
  • mart c1480 In extended use, of a person. A corpse. Obsolete . rare .
  • cadaver c1500– A dead body, esp. of man; a corpse. (Now chiefly in technical language.)
  • mort c1500–1888 A corpse, a dead body. Also in figurative context. Obsolete .
  • tramort ?a1513–35 A putrefying carcass; a corpse.
  • hearse 1530–1633 A dead body, a corpse. Obsolete .
  • bulk 1575–1637 A dead body, carcass. Obsolete .
  • offal 1581– The parts of a slaughtered or dead animal considered unfit for human consumption; decomposing flesh, carrion. Also (in extended use): slain…
  • trunk 1594–1709 A dead body, a corpse; also, the body considered apart from the soul or life. Obsolete .
  • cadaverie 1600 = cadaver , n.
  • relicts 1607– In plural . The remains of a deceased person; = relic , n. 3. Now rare .
  • remains 1610– In plural . A part or the parts of a person's body after death; a corpse. Also in singular : a piece or fragment of a dead body.
  • mummy a1616–89 Flesh; esp. the flesh of a carcass, dead flesh. Obsolete .
  • relic 1636– In singular in the same sense. rare .
  • cold meat 1788– slang . A corpse; corpses. Chiefly attributive , as cold-meat box (coffin), cold-meat cart (hearse), cold-meat party (funeral or wake), cold-meat train …
  • mortality 1827–71 The mortal part of man; mortal remains. Obsolete .
  • death bone 1834– (a) (In plural ) the bones of a dead person or dead people, or (in quot. 1933) of someone about to die; (b) among Australian Aboriginal people, a…
  • deader 1853– A dead person, a corpse.
  • stiff 1859– slang . A corpse (= stiff 'un at sense A.I.2b).
Great numbers of miserable and pitiful ghosts , or rather shadowes of men.
By their unmerciful bleeding him; insomuch that he seemed to have little more left than would suffice to make him a walking Ghost .
He was a meer Anatomy or perfect Ghost , with so little Breath.
She was..talking to a child of about her own years—a pale, thin ghost of a thing, whose uncared-for locks, ragged frock, and broken, trodden-down shoes formed a striking contrast to her own trim gracefulness.
When Pru returns to him asking to go she is dead pale, a ghost with the lipstick on her face like movie blood.
The ancient cities of Yemen become ruins filled with starving ghosts .
  • staff c1405– As the type of something long, thin, straight, or stiff, esp. in similes or comparisons.
  • rake a1529– In extended use: a very thin person. Cf. as thin as a rake at phrases.
  • crag 1542 A lean scraggy person.
  • scrag 1542– A lean person or animal. (In depreciatory use.) Cf. crag , n.³ (which occurs only in Udall).
  • sneakbill 1546–1653 A mean or paltry fellow; a starved or thin-faced person. Also attributive .
  • starveling 1546– A starved person or animal; a person who is habitually underfed or hungry; a person who is emaciated for lack of nourishment.
  • notomy ?a1549– A skeleton; (hence) a thin or emaciated person. Formerly also: †a body for dissection; a representation or model of the skeleton ( obsolete ).
  • slim 1548–1611 A lanky, lazy, worthless, or despicable person. Obsolete .
  • ghost 1590– A very pale or emaciated person; a person who is not at full strength. Cf. the ghost of a person's (or thing's) former self at phrases P.2b.
  • bald-rib 1598– A joint of pork cut from nearer the rump than the spare rib, so called ‘because the bones thereof are made bald and bare of flesh’ (Minsheu)…
  • bare-bone 1598– A lean, skinny person.
  • bow-case 1599 A case in which a bow is kept. In 16–17th centuries applied humorously to a lean starveling, a ‘bag of bones’.
  • atomy 1600– In extended use and figurative . An emaciated or withered living body, a walking skeleton. Cf. anatomy , n. I.6. Now English regional .
  • sneaksbill 1602–43 = sneakbill , n.
  • thin-gut 1602– A thin-bellied, lean, or starved-looking person; a starveling. Also as adj. : = thin-gutted , adj.
  • anatomy a1616– A living being reduced to ‘skin and bone’; a withered or emaciated creature, a ‘walking skeleton’.
  • sharg 1623–1832 A weak, sickly, or emaciated person. Cf. shargar , n.
  • skeleton 1630– transferred . A very thin, lean, or emaciated person or animal.
  • raw-bone 1635– A very thin or gaunt person or animal, a mere skeleton. Also in plural : Death personified. Now rare .
  • living skeleton 1650– An individual with an extremely emaciated frame.
  • strammel 1706– ‘A lean, gaunt, ill-favoured person or animal’ (G. F. Jackson Shropshire Word-bk. ).
  • scarecrow 1711 A person whose appearance causes ridicule; a lean, gaunt figure; one who resembles a scarecrow in his or her dress, ‘a guy’.
  • rickle of bones 1729– Chiefly in rickle of bones . A very lean person or animal; a skeleton.
  • shargar 1754– A weak or emaciated person or animal; (also) a short bow-legged person.
  • squeeze-crab 1785–
  • rack of bones 1804– A skeleton. Now chiefly in extended use: an emaciated person or animal (esp. a horse).
  • thread-paper 1824– figurative . A person of slender or thin figure.
  • bag of bones 1838– bag of bones : an emaciated living being. the whole bag of tricks : every expedient, everything (in allusion to the fable of ‘the Fox and the Cat’)…
  • dry-bones 1845– A contemptuous or familiar term for a thin or withered person, who has little flesh on his or her bones.
  • skinnymalink 1870– A (humorously) depreciative name for: a skinny person or occasionally animal.
  • slim jim 1889– A very slim or thin person.
  • skinny 1907– colloquial . A skinny person.
  • underweight 1910– An underweight person.
  • asthenic 1925– One who is asthenic.
  • ectomorph 1940– A person with the lean body-build in which the physical structures developed from the ectodermal layer of the embryo, i.e. the skin and the nervous…
  • skinny-malinky 1957– Scottish . = skinnymalink , n.
  • matchstick 1959– In extended use. slang . A thin person.
Even supposing the absence of ‘ ghost ’ voters and other frauds.
The late Mr. A. A. Wilkins, who at one time was a citizen of this county, and who died in New Orleans about two years ago, is reported by the Picayune as having voted in New Orleans, at the recent election. According the account given several other ghosts voted also.
The short-gang gimmick (hire sixteen men for the work of twenty-two and pad the payroll with ghosts ).
I could give my rent book to one of them and get the Welfare ghosts to send my rent money to them so they could pay it for me like Lorraine used to do.
These are often the most sophisticated fraud schemes. The shell company is ‘a ghost ,’ Bares says. ‘It's a web site and a phone line. They don't exist as real companies.’
Did ghosts register in the state? After all, the millions of ghost workers on federal and state payrolls collect billions of Naira monthly.
The question of how to deal with ‘ ghost students’, who never even show their faces at schools, and a number of other riddles in connection with the new immigration law remain to be cleared up.
If even Harvard has ‘ ghosts ’ (admitted applicants who do not show up on registration day), the smaller colleges must expect to be roundly haunted, and they are.
These ghosts are people still on a GP surgery's books despite them no longer existing as patients of the practice.
Last week came news of tax ghosts in the Revenue's report. These are people, wealthy people, who somehow have managed not to join the club. Until picked up by one of the Revenue's special offices there is no file on them at a tax office.
The ‘ ghosts ’ not exist on taxmen's books.
The Revenue computer can instantly confirm whether any named individual has a tax record. So the first break in a ‘ ghost ’ case is finding someone engaged in trade who has no record.
Detroit's income tax division sent mailings in April through June 2016 to 7,142 suspected ‘ ghosts ’.
  • tax-evader 1927–
  • ghost 1982– A person who evades official registration for tax.
  • skimmer 1970– One who conceals or diverts some of his or her earnings or takings in order to avoid paying tax on them. U.S. slang . Cf. skim , v. I.2d.
They have never been introduced to a ‘ ghost ’—that is to say, a person employed by incompetent artists secretly to do up their work and make it artistic.
In the opinion of some, his most successful compositions were written by the ghost who was least successful in mimicking his rather cumbersome style.
These buildings..were designed rapidly, often by anonymous young ‘ ghosts ’ in the offices of knighted architects.
A good ghost , for instance, supplies his or her own memories, because the famous person may have been too busy being successful to recall anything.
  • hack writer 1711– A person who hires himself or herself out to do any kind of literary work; (hence) a writer producing dull, unoriginal work, esp. to order.
  • garreteer 1720 One who lives in a garret; esp. an impecunious author or literary hack.
  • hack author a1734– In sense 4a, as hack author , hack reviewer , hack journalist , etc.
  • hack 1798 Originally: a person who may be hired to do any kind of work as required; a drudge, a lackey (cf. hackney , n. A.2). In later use: spec. a person who…
  • truckster 1843– A base trafficker; cf. truck , v.¹ 3.
  • hodman 1849– figurative . A mechanical worker in literature, a literary hack.
  • ghost 1881– A person who does work on behalf of another person who is publicly credited; esp. a ghostwriter. Cf. ghostwriter , n.
  • devil 1888–91 A person employed by an author or writer to do subordinate parts of his or her literary work under direction. More generally: any person who does…
  • deviller 1893– Originally Law slang . A person employed to carry out research or other professional work for someone else, esp. a lawyer or author; = devil , n. 8.
  • ghostwriter 1908– A person who writes an article, book, etc., for another person, under whose name it is then published. Cf. ghost , n. A.IV.12.
Besides this living entity, or solid embodiment of cavalry and guns, there is a skeleton army under Major-General E. C. Bethune, of four cavalry brigades (nominal).., which are likewise ‘ ghosts ’.
The day's work..will culminate in a running battle, in which the ‘ ghosts ’ will once more be the enemy.
That Berosus, which we now have, is not so much as the ghost , or carkasse..of that famous Chaldean Author.
Things, without Wit, or Meaning, and which are not so much, as the Ghosts of good Poetry.
There, Dick, what a breakfast!—oh, not like your ghost Of a breakfast in England.
Her breath rested for a second on his cheek like the ghost of a kiss.
He hadn't a ghost of an idea whether we could get through the Boche wire.
The ghost of a smile may be glimpsed on his face.
  • sign a1382– A trace of something that is disappearing or no longer there; a vestige; a remnant. Frequently (now chiefly) in negative phrases, as no sign of , not a …
  • step a1382–1578 figurative . A trace, vestige; mark or indication left by anything material or immaterial. Obsolete . (Cf. footstep , n. 2.)
  • ficching c1384 In quot. 1384 concrete the place where anything is fixed, the ‘print’.
  • mark a1400–1662 A vestige, a trace. Obsolete .
  • traces c1400– plural . Vestiges or marks remaining and indicating the former presence, existence, or action of something; singular a vestige, an indication. Also t …
  • scent c1422– The characteristic odour of a person or animal by which hunting dogs or other animals are able to detect and track their quarry; (hence) a track or…
  • footstep ?a1425– figurative . A mark, impression, or indication left by someone or something; a vestige, a trace; = step , n.¹ I.9b. Cf. footstepping , n.
  • tiding a1440 figurative . Indications, traces. Obsolete . rare .
  • relic c1475– A surviving trace of some practice, fact, idea, quality, etc. In early use usually in plural ; now usually in singular .
  • smell ?a1505– figurative . A trace, suggestion, or tinge of something. Also without article, or with adjective. Hence, the special, indefinable, or subtle…
  • stead 1513–1896 Scottish . A mark, imprint, vestige. Chiefly plural .
  • vestigy 1545–1644 A vestige or trace.
  • print 1548–1715 A vestige, a trace; an indication. Obsolete .
  • token 1555–1610 Something remaining as evidence of what formerly existed; a vestige, trace, ‘sign’. Obsolete .
  • remnant 1560– A remaining trace or survival of some quality, belief, condition, or state of things.
  • show 1561– An indication or sign of a fact, quality, etc.; a trace or vestige of something. Chiefly with of . Later only in negative contexts. Now rare except as…
  • mention 1564– British regional in later use. Indication, evidence; a vestige, trace, remnant.
  • signification 1576–1607 An indication or trace of a physical thing. Obsolete .
  • footing ?1580–1841 figurative . An example or precedent set by someone or something; a vestige, trace, or indication. Cf. footstep , n. 2. Obsolete .
  • tract 1583–1698 A mark remaining where something has been; an indication, vestige ( literal or figurative ): = trace , n.¹ 6. Obsolete .
  • remainder 1585– A remaining trace of a quality, feeling, or pattern of behaviour. Now rare .
  • vestige 1602– A mark, trace, or visible sign of something, esp. a building or other material structure, which no longer exists or is present; a piece of material…
  • wrack 1602– That which remains after the operation of any destructive action or agency; a vestige or trace left by some subversive cause. Also figurative .
  • engravement 1604–1727 The action of engraving; that which is engraved, an incised figure or inscription; also figurative an imprint, record, trace.
  • footstepping 1610–70 A vestige or trace of something; = footstep , n. 2.
  • resent 1610 A savour; a trace. rare .
  • ghost 1613– A faint appearance or insubstantial semblance; a slight trace or vestige of a thing. Cf. shadow , n. II.6h.
  • impression 1613–58 A mark, trace, indication. Obsolete .
  • remark 1624–1864 A mark or indication of a quality; a remaining trace of something. Obsolete .
  • footprint 1625– figurative and in figurative contexts. An impression or trace of something.
  • studdle 1635 A mark or impression left by something; = staddle , n. 6. Obsolete . rare .
  • vestigium 1644– Const. of .
  • relict 1646– A thing or (occasionally) a person that has survived or is left over from an earlier period; a relic or trace of some era, system, belief, etc.
  • perception 1650 A perceptible trace or vestige. Obsolete . rare .
  • vestigiary 1651 A vestige or trace.
  • track 1657–94 figurative . = trace , n.¹ 6, 7 Obsolete .
  • symptom 1722– With negative expressed or implied: A slight, or the least, sign of something; a trace, vestige.
  • signacle 1768–90 Scottish . A trace, a vestige; (also) a small quantity. Cf. sign , n. II.11.
  • ray 1773– A trace of something.
  • vestigia 1789 Error for vestigium , n.
  • footmark 1800– figurative . An impression or indication left by someone or something; a vestige, a trace.
  • souvenir 1844–93 A slight trace or vestige of something. Obsolete . rare .
  • latent 1920– In forensic science: a latent impression (see sense A.7b); esp. a latent fingerprint.
  • shadow ?c1225– figurative . An unreal appearance; a delusive semblance or image; a vain and unsubstantial object of pursuit. Often contrasted with substance .
  • shade 1297– figurative . An unsubstantial image of something real; an unreal appearance; something that has only a fleeting existence, or that has become reduced…
  • moonshine 1468– Appearance without substance; something unsubstantial or unreal; (now) esp. foolish or fanciful talk, ideas, plans, etc. Originally †moonshine in the …
  • fume 1531– Something comparable to smoke or vapour as being unsubstantial, transient, imaginary, etc.
  • show 1547– A false, misleading, or illusory appearance of a quality, emotion, etc.; a semblance. Also as a mass noun: mere semblance. Frequently in to have (als …
  • eggs in moonshine ?1558–1660 Cookery . A dish consisting of egg yolks on a sweet base, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries; also used allusively with reference to sense A.2a…
  • smoke 1559– In proverbial, figurative, or allusive uses. Used to designate anything having no real value or substance, or a mere shadow of something.
  • sign 1597–1796 With of . A mere semblance; an imperfect or inferior version. Obsolete .
  • umbra 1635– A mere shadow of something. In quot. 1635 figurative .
  • parhelion 1636– figurative . Something resembling or reminiscent of a parhelion.
  • bogle 1793– figurative and transferred . A thing unsubstantial, a mere phantom.
  • simulacrum 1805– Something having merely the form or appearance of a certain thing, without possessing its substance or proper qualities.
  • phantasmagoria 1822 A phantasmagoric figure. Obsolete . rare .
  • spectre 1849– A faint shadow or imitation of something.
  • spece c1330–1548 A part, portion, or share; a touch or trace.
  • taste 1390–1897 figurative . A slight experience, received or given; a slight show or sample of any condition or quality.
  • lisoun c1400 ? Glimpse; trace.
  • savour c1400– Character, type; a characteristic quality, esp. a slight admixture of such a quality; a hint, trace, or tinge of something.
  • smatch a1500– A slight indication, suggestion, or tincture of some quality, etc.
  • spice 1531– A slight touch, trace, or share, a dash or flavour, of some thing or quality.
  • smack 1539– transferred . A trace, tinge, or suggestion of something specified.
  • shadow 1586– figurative . A slight or faint appearance, a small insignificant portion, a trace.
  • surmise 1586–1837 A ‘suspicion’, slight trace ( of something).
  • relish 1590–1852 Trace or tinge of some quality; a seasoning; a small quantity. Obsolete .
  • tang 1593– figurative . A slight ‘smack’ of some quality, opinion, habit, form of speech, etc.; a ‘suspicion’, a suggestion; a trace, a touch of something.
  • touch 1597– A small amount of some quality, attribute, or ingredient; a dash or trace of something.
  • stain 1609–16 figurative . A slight trace or tinge of . Obsolete .
  • tincture 1612–1858 A slight infusion ( of some element or quality; a tinge, a shade, a flavour, a trace; a smattering ( of knowledge, etc.).
  • dash a1616– A small quantity ( of something) thrown into or mingled as a qualifying admixture with something else; an infusion, touch, tinge. Usually figurative .
  • soul a1616– Applied to a thing. An element, principle, or trace of something.
  • twang a1640– figurative . A trace or suggestion of some specified origin, quality, or the like; a ‘smack’, touch, tinge; a taint; = tang , n.¹ II.6.
  • whiff 1644– transferred and figurative . A ‘breath’, ‘blast’, ‘burst’.
  • haut-goût 1650–1710 figurative . ‘Flavour’, ‘spice’.
  • cast a1661– A ‘dash’ of some ingredient or quality.
  • stricture a1672–95 A touch, slight trace. Obsolete .
  • tinge 1736– figurative . A trace of a feeling or quality.
  • tinct 1752– figurative . A touch, trace, tinge ( of something): = tincture , n. 4.
  • vestige 1756– A very small or slight trace, indication, or amount ( of something); a particle, a scrap.
  • smattering 1764 A slight trace or symptom. Obsolete . rare .
  • soupçon 1766– A suspicion, a suggestion, a very small quantity or slight trace, of something.
  • smutch 1776– A slight mark or indication; semblance; also, a slight or light touch.
  • shade 1791– A tinge, a minute qualifying infusion (of some quality); colloquially, a minute quantity or portion added or removed.
  • suspicion 1809– A slight or faint trace, very small amount, ‘hint’, ‘suggestion’ ( of something).
  • lineament 1811 A minute portion, a trace; plural elements, rudiments. Obsolete .
  • trait 1815– A ‘touch’ of some quality. Now rare .
  • tint 1817– figurative in various senses; esp. Quality, character, kind; a slight imparted or modifying character, a ‘tinge’ of something.
  • trace 1827– An indication of the presence of a minute amount of some constituent in a compound; a quantity so minute as to be inferred but not actually…
  • skiff 1839– A slight sketch, trace, touch, etc., of something.
  • spicing 1844–
  • smudge a1871– A slight sign or indication ( of laughter, etc.).
  • ghost 1887– A faint appearance or insubstantial semblance; a slight trace or vestige of a thing. Cf. shadow , n. II.6h.
I fear yet this iron yoke of outward conformity hath left a slavish print upon our necks; the ghost of a linnen decency yet haunts us.
If I go to the bar, the ghost of this curs'd comedy will follow, and hunt me in Westminster-hall.
The ‘coalition’, the ghost of which he supposed had haunted the gentleman's..imagination.
There was a rival kind of Modernism that professed a desire to destroy the monuments, to destroy the past. But the ghost of canonicity haunts even these iconoclasts.
The ghost of memory always hovers, betraying people too young for nostalgia and rewiring the future so that it looks an awful lot like the past.
The dauch always left a large guest ; whereas the coal burnt into a fine white ash.
Mr R. sat by the side of the expiring fire, seemingly contemplating the gaists and cinders which lay scattered over the hearth.
‘G'wa', stapp some gase atween yer taes’, said an old pit-woman to a lad who complained that the skin between his toes had got broken through working among water, ‘and that'll soon heal them’.
  • coal Old English– A burnt or partially burnt piece of carbonized fuel which is not now glowing or burning; esp. a partially consumed piece of fuel that retains…
  • cinder 1530– The residue of a combustible substance, esp. coal, after it has ceased to flame, and so also, after… esp. A small piece of coal from which the…
  • ghost 1807–1912 Scottish . A piece of dead coal that is white instead of glowing or burning (cf. dead coal ). Also: the white cinders left after coal has burnt. Obs …
  • ghost-coal 1824 A piece of dead coal that is white instead of glowing or burning; = ghost , n. A.V.16.
No light is lost, as in the usual construction, by inner reflections, and there is no formation of the false image or ‘ ghost ’ of planets and the brighter stars.
You will perceive one, two, three, etc., illuminated circles move across the field of vision over the picture—these are ghosts .
A prism or first-surface mirror eliminates mirror ghosts .
The HRMA [ sc. high resolution mirror assembly] baffles are designed to reject non-reflected ghost rays, and to prevent single reflection ghosts from hitting within the central 14′ of the focal plane.
A ghost can be an image of the object, an image of the aperture stop, i.e. a pupil, or an image of the light sensor.
  • ghost 1851– Optics . A spot, shape, or duplicate image appearing at the focal plane of an optical device, produced by spurious reflections resulting from…
  • solarization 1853– Photography . The injurious effect produced by over-exposing a negative to the action of light, resulting in the reversal of the image; a similar…
  • flare 1867– Photography . (See quot. 1968). Also, a similar appearance in the object-glass of a telescope.
  • bronzing 1868– (See quots.)
  • ghost image 1872– A faint, transient, secondary, or spurious image caused by reflection, equipment defect, etc. (cf. ghost , n. A.V.17).
  • shine 1880– Painting and Photography . Shininess; a shiny patch.
  • orthochromatism 1889– The condition of being orthochromatic ( orthochromatic , adj. 1).
  • false image 1892– Counterfeit, simulated, sham. An extra image made on the plate by a defective lens at the same time as the image proper.
  • flare-spot 1893– = flare , n.¹ 3).
  • halo 1941– A more or less circular bright or dark area formed in various photographic processes (see quots.).
  • acutance 1952– The sharpness of a photographic or printed image; a numerical measure of this.
On the ghosts in Rutherfurd's diffraction-spectra.
Prof. Rowland's plates..were free from ‘ ghosts ’ caused by periodicity in the ruling.
This reduced considerably the stray light which caused so much noise with the original cell, and was also responsible, incidentally, for the two ‘ ghost ’ bands erroneously assigned to ozone.
The spectrum produced has numerous ghosts spaced at multiples of \(\displaystyle \frac{λ}{md}\) and of various intensities.
In order that the shutter cut as small a percentage of the light as is practical without developing a ‘ travel ghost ’ (white streaks shooting up or down from white objects in the picture or from letters in a title), the shutter is made narrow.
Ghost , vertical streaks on high-lights in a projected picture, arising from incorrect phasing of the rotary shutter with respect to the moving film.
When, as happens on rare occasions, this timing gets off, or out of exact synchrony, what will be the visible result on the film image? It will be what is known among cine technicians as a ‘ shutter ghost ’, or ‘ghost image’.
Shutter ghost ( travel ghost ) is the streak or blur that occurs to an image resulting from any vertical motion of film in the gate as the projector shutter opens.
Ghosts below the white square indicate the shutter is opening too soon; ghosts above the white square indicate the shutter is closing too late.
When marked fading occurred, the normally clear [television] reproduction was accompanied by ‘ ghosts ’ or additional images which faded in and out.
The ‘ ghosts ’ represented energy which had traveled from the transmitter upward to the Heaviside..whence it was reflected to the receiver.
After a rain storm of static and a flutter of television ‘ ghosts ’ we were able to recognise LBJ.
They [ sc. digital transmissions] maintain an image as sharp as the one originally passed to the transmitter, and they don't suffer from ghosts .
  • multiple image 1863– A composite image comprising two or more superimposed or adjacent images originally distinct (e.g. resulting from the repeated reflection of…
  • ghosting 1919– The appearance of a secondary or ghost image, esp. on a television or display screen (cf. ghost , n. A.V.17d, ghost image , n. ).
  • ghost 1927– Television . A displaced duplicate image on a television screen produced by an additional copy of an analogue signal, resulting from reflection or…
  • flicker 1933– Cinematography and Television . A succession of sudden, abrupt changes in a picture, such as occurs when the number of frames per second is too…
  • ion spot 1936– (a) A small area struck by a beam of ions; (b) a dark spot in the middle of the screen of a cathode ray tube where the phosphor is damaged as a…
  • halation 1937– An effect consisting of a series of halos of diminishing brightness surrounding the edges of a bright image on the screen of a cathode ray tube…
  • blooming 1940– Television . (See quots.)
  • shading 1940– A spurious variation in brightness over parts of a televised image. Frequently attributive .
  • misregistration 1942– Wrong or imperfect registration; esp. misalignment of colours in relation to one another, in printed matter (cf. misregister , n. ) or in the…
  • snow 1946– Applied to various things or substances having the colour or appearance of snow. Spots that appear as a flickering mass filling a television or…
  • snowstorm 1948– figurative . An appearance of dense snow on a television or radar screen. Cf. snow , n.¹ II.5f.
  • ringing 1949– Electronics . The phenomenon of transient damped oscillation occurring in a circuit at its resonant frequency as a result of a sudden change in…
  • streaking 1956– Television . A picture condition in which the trailing edges of areas of a particular colour are extended by streaks of the complementary colour.
  • strobing 1961– Television . An irregular movement and loss of continuity sometimes seen in lines and stripes in a television picture.
  • flickering 1968– The action of flicker , v. in various senses.
Ghost signals , signals appearing on the screen of the RADAR indicator, the cause of which cannot be readily determined.
Another distortion is called a ‘ ghost ’ or ‘phantom echo’. Its images do not follow the characteristics of normal echoes and for which definite targets cannot be found.
Common examples are ambiguities in range and Doppler measurements..and the ghosts produced by scanning with two fan beams which are oriented at right angles to each other.
Algorithmic procedures were established to allow such ghosts to be removed.
  • range mark 1942– Radar . = range marker , n. 4.
  • ghost 1943– A spurious signal on a radar screen that does not correspond to an object at the indicated location.
  • pip 1944– A sharp, narrow, usually small spike or deflection on a line displayed on an oscilloscope or radar screen.
  • range marker 1944– Radar . A visual indication of distance on a radar screen. Cf. range ring , n.
  • blip 1945– A small elongated mark projected on a radar screen.
  • clutter 1945– Unwanted images on a radar screen.
  • sea return 1945– Unwanted radar images due to reflection from a rough sea.
  • sea clutter 1946– = sea return , n. ( s ) below.
  • angel 1947– An unexplained radar echo; also angel echo . Chiefly in plural .
The first defect appeared when basic solvents were used on Whatman No. 1 or No. 4 papers. ‘ Ghost ’ spots of the esters remained on the ‘starting line’, and more or less serious trails were left behind the moving spots.
The additional artifact structures ( ghost echoes) were caused by multiple reflections of the sound beam.
When we shoot below the surface on land, we sometimes have a significant ghost problem from seismic waves from the shot traveling upward and being reflected back downward either at the base of weathering or from the surface.
Ghost artifact, also called double-image artifact and split-image artifact, is a common artifact in pelvic examinations in women.
The ghost cells recently described at the meeting of the British Medical Association in Cork, are also to be demonstrated by this method in blood a month sealed.
The parenchymatous tissue of the endosperm completely disintegrated, the cell-walls either entirely disappearing or remaining in a much swollen and altered form as mere ‘ ghosts ’.
Whether this increase of permeability persists when the corpuscles have been reduced to ghosts by the escape of hæmoglobin I am unable to say.
The ghosts have a host range specificity similar to that of the virus from which they were derived. [ Note ] The word ‘ghost’ has been used because of its obvious relationship to the red cell ghost produced in a somewhat similar manner. It consists of the deflated head and the tail.
The protoplasmic contents are released in to the surrounding medium leaving the empty ghost cells .
A single stained fetal cell is seen against a background of ghosts of maternal cells.
  • septum 1720– Biology . A thin structure forming a dividing wall or partition between parts of a plant.
  • internal membrane 1839– Cell Biology . The cell membrane of a plant cell, contained within the cell wall (now rare ); a membrane contained within a cell or organelle.
  • cell wall 1840– A rigid layer present outside the cell membrane in plants, fungi, algae, and many bacteria, consisting mainly of cellulose and other…
  • valve 1852– Botany . Each of the two siliceous cell walls of a diatom, similar in shape but slightly different in size, with one overlapping the other.
  • periplast 1853– Originally: †a cell wall ( obsolete ). Now: spec. the wall of a unicellular organism, esp. that of an alga of the division Cryptophyta , consisting of…
  • stroma 1872– The spongy colourless framework of a red blood corpuscle or other cell.
  • ghost 1879– Biology . The cell wall or membrane of a cell that has lost its cytoplasmic contents (more fully ghost cell ). Also: a bacteriophage with a head end…
  • endoplasmic reticulum 1883– Cell Biology . A network of structures within the cytoplasm of a cell; esp. (more fully endoplasmic reticulum ) a system of membranes in the form of…
  • plasma membrane 1893– A semipermeable lipid bilayer with incorporated proteins which forms the external boundary of the cytoplasm of a cell (the cell membrane), or…
  • plasmalemma 1923– A lipid bilayer surrounding the cytoplasm of a cell; a plasma membrane, a cell membrane; esp. one immediately within the wall of a plant cell.
  • unit membrane 1958– A thin, semipermeable lipid bilayer with incorporated proteins, that encloses cells (= cell membrane , n. ) and some organelles; spec. (now historical …
  • purple membrane 1968– A membrane containing photoactive pigments which is produced under certain conditions in the archaebacterium Halobacterium salinarium .
It was also large in pattern, frequently occurred in those long white lines, rich in sulphur and phosphorus, which are technically known as ‘ Ghosts ’.
A ghost is due to local segregation of impurities during the solidification of the ingot.
The ghost structure is emphasized here by bringing the object slightly out of microscopic focus.
Mr. Sairson, will you do a ‘ ghost ’ for me to paste in my album? Your signature ought to make a very apparent and robust apparition... You take a piece of paper and fold it lengthwise, then write your signature along the crease, and whilst the ink is wet, press the two folds together. When this is opened again it leaves an impression which some call the skeleton, other the ghost , of the signature. Some of these are most weird.
On the back of one ‘ ghost ’ there is a note in the Author's hand.
  • ghost 1914–29 An impression of a signature made by folding over the paper on which it is written while the ink is still wet. Obsolete .
Instead of goodbye it's: ‘ I'm ghost .’
I ain't never seen a broad get ghost like you, no calls, no beeps, no nothing.
Fuck it, I'm out. I'm ghost . I decide to sneak out quietly.
My school counselor has gone ghost during college app season, when us seniors need him the most.
  • flee Old English– To withdraw hastily, take oneself off, go away. Also with away . Const. from , out of . Also, To swerve from (a commandment); to keep free from (a…
  • run Old English– To move rapidly away (from somewhere). intransitive . To retire or retreat rapidly ( from a place, person, etc.); to flee, take to flight; to…
  • swerve a1225–1540 intransitive . To depart; to make off. Obsolete . rare .
  • biweve c1275 intransitive . To hurry away.
  • skip 1338– To hasten, hurry, move lightly and rapidly; to make off, abscond. Also with out and as to skip it . Now colloquial .
  • streek c1380– intransitive . To go or advance quickly; to go at full speed; to decamp. Also with away , off , etc. Cf. stretch , v. III.10 (The verb is, in this…
  • warp a1400–00 intransitive . To go hastily, fling away . Of wind: To rise up . Obsolete .
  • yern a1400 intransitive . = run , v. I.i.1, I.i.7, I.i.8.
  • smolt c1400 intransitive . To make off, go, escape, etc.
  • step c1460– colloquial . To go away, make off. Cf. sense I.3c. Also to step it .
  • to flee (one's) touch ?1515–1626 to flee (one's) touch : to make off, escape; (also) to break faith, break a promise (cf. phrases P.1c, phrases P.1d.i). Obsolete .
  • skirr 1548– intransitive . To run hastily ( away ); to flee, make off; = scour , v.¹ 1c.
  • rub c1550–1844 intransitive . slang . To run or make off ; to go forth . Also without following adverb. Obsolete .
  • to make away a1566–1891 intransitive . To depart, go away; (also) spec. to go away suddenly or hastily, run away; = to make off at phrasal verbs PV.1.
  • lope 1575– intransitive . To run, run away. Now only slang and dialect (see English Dial. Dict. ).
  • scuddle 1577– intransitive . To run away hastily, to scuttle. ‘A low word’ (Johnson, 1755).
  • scour a1592–1753 (Without adverb.) To depart in haste, run away, decamp. (Chiefly colloquial or slang .) Obsolete .
  • to take the start 1600–1869 to take the start : (a) To depart, set off, decamp; (b) to take the lead (= to get the start at phrases P.3). Obsolete .
  • to walk off 1604– intransitive . To depart, esp. suddenly or abruptly.
  • to break away a1616 intransitive . To start away with abruptness and force; to go off abruptly; to escape by breaking from restraint. Also figurative .
  • to make off 1652– intransitive . To depart or leave a place, esp. suddenly or hastily; to hasten or run away; to decamp, bolt.
  • to fly off 1667– to fly off : literal to start away; ‘to revolt’ (Johnson); figurative to take another course; to break away (from an agreement or engagement).
  • scuttle 1681 intransitive . To run with quick, hurried steps. Chiefly with away , off .
  • whew 1684– intransitive . To move quickly; to hurry away, depart abruptly ( dialect ); to bustle about ( U.S. ).
  • scamper 1687–1833 intransitive . To run away, decamp, ‘bolt’. Obsolete .
  • whistle off 1689– whistle off : to go off, go away (suddenly or lightly). colloquial ? Obsolete .
  • brush 1699– intransitive . To burst away with a rush, move off abruptly, be gone, decamp, make off.
  • to buy a brush 1699–1837 slang (originally cant ). to buy a brush : to make good one's escape; to make a speedy departure; to leave, to clear off. Cf. brush , v.¹ 3. Obsolete .
  • to take (its, etc.) wing 1704– figurative . To ‘take flight’, take one's departure, make off, flee.
  • decamp 1751– To go away promptly or suddenly; to make off at once, take oneself off: often said of criminals and persons eluding the officers of the law.
  • to take (a) French leave 1751– to take (†a) French leave : to depart unnoticed or without permission; (also spec. in military contexts) to escape or take flight; to desert, to…
  • morris 1765– intransitive . slang ( English regional in later use.) To move away rapidly; to decamp; (also) †to die ( obsolete ). Also with off .
  • to rush off 1794– intransitive . To leave in a hurry.
  • to hop the twig 1797– to hop the twig : to depart, go off, or be dismissed suddenly; (also simply to hop , to hop off ) to die. to hop the wag : to play truant. slang .
  • to run along 1803– intransitive . To depart about one's business; to go away. Frequently in imperative, esp. in the phrase run along (with you)! (often used to…
  • scoot 1805– slang or colloquial . To go suddenly and swiftly, to dart; to go away hurriedly. Often with adverbs.
  • to take off 1815– intransitive . To depart quickly or suddenly; to run away; to go off. Cf. sense IV.iv.60b.
  • speel a1818– intransitive . To go fast; to run away , make off. Chiefly Australian in later use.
  • to cut (also make, take) one's lucky 1821– to cut (also make, take) one's lucky : to get away, escape; to decamp.
  • to make (take) tracks (for) 1824– Phrases. in one's tracks , on the spot where one is at the moment; instantly, immediately. on the right track , having the right idea; heading in the…
  • absquatulize 1829–40 intransitive and transitive = absquatulate , v.
  • mosey 1829– intransitive . Originally: to go away quickly or promptly; to make haste (now rare ). Later usually: to walk in a leisurely or aimless manner; to…
  • absquatulate 1830– intransitive . To abscond, make off. Also occasionally transitive with it as object.
  • put 1834– intransitive . colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S. ). To leave in haste, make off, ‘scram’. Frequently with for . See also to put off 8b, to put out …
  • streak 1834– With it .
  • vamoose 1834– intransitive . To depart, make off, decamp, disappear.
  • to put out 1835– intransitive . Chiefly U.S. To depart, leave, esp. in haste; to make off; to set out for . Now rare .
  • cut 1836– slang or colloquial ( intransitive ) To run away, make off, ‘be off’. Also to cut it . (See also to cut and run at sense VIII.41.) Originally with away …
  • stump it 1841– slang . ‘To go on foot’ ( Slang Dict. 1859); also stump it (in quot. 1841 to be off, decamp).
  • scratch 1843– figurative . intransitive . To depart in haste, to make off with all speed. Frequently const. for . U.S. colloquial .
  • scarper 1846– intransitive . To depart hastily, run away; to escape, make one's get-away.
  • to vamoose the ranch 1847– transitive . To decamp or disappear from; to quit hurriedly. Frequently in to vamoose the ranch . U.S.
  • hook 1851– intransitive . To move with a sudden turn or twist. Now slang or dialect . To make off. Also to hook it and ( New Zealand ) to hook off .
  • shoo 1851– To hasten away, as after being ‘shooed at’.
  • slide 1859– colloquial . To make off. Originally U.S.
  • get 1861– intransitive . colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S. regional ). Frequently in form git . Without… To be off, ‘clear out’. Also: to make speed.
  • to cut and run 1861– to cut and run ( Nautical ): see quot. 1794; ( slang or colloquial ) to make off promptly, hurry off. Also as attributive . phr.
  • skedaddle 1862– In general use: To go away, leave, or depart hurriedly; to run away, ‘clear out’.
  • bolt 1864– To dart off or away, make off with oneself, take flight, escape; to rush suddenly off or away . gen. of people or animals. spec. of a rabbit, fox…
  • cheese it 1866– transitive . To discontinue (an action). Chiefly in imperative in cheese it : stop it, leave off, run away; (formerly also) be silent.
  • to do a bunk c1870– In slang phrase to do a bunk : to make an escape; to depart hurriedly.
  • to wake snakes 1872– In figurative or allusive uses. to wake snakes , (a) (See quot. 1872); (b) to rouse oneself, to look lively; (c) see wake , v. III.8c; to have snake …
  • bunk 1877– To be off. Also with about .
  • nit 1882– intransitive . To escape, decamp; to hurry away. Also transitive with it as object.
  • to pull one's freight 1884– U.S. regional (chiefly western ). to pull one's freight : to depart, esp. quickly; to get going. Now rare .
  • to get the (also to) hell out (of) 1885– to get the (also to) hell out (of) : to make a hasty retreat, esp. in order to avoid or preclude trouble.
  • fooster 1892– ( intransitive ) to bustle off .
  • smoke 1893– Australian slang . = slope , v.² 1. Also const. off .
  • mooch 1899– intransitive . English regional . To clear off, depart swiftly. Also in imperative : ‘get lost!’, ‘scram!’.
  • skyhoot 1901– intransitive . To move suddenly and swiftly; to dart; to depart hurriedly. Also of a price, cost, etc.: to rise rapidly or to an exorbitant degree.
  • to fly the coop 1901– to fly the coop : to escape or elope; to leave suddenly; to fly the track : to turn from the usual or expected course. U.S. colloquial .
  • shemozzle 1902– intransitive . To depart quickly or suddenly; to make off.
  • to light a shuck 1905– to light a shuck : to leave in a hurry, to hurry away.
  • to beat it 1906– to beat it : to go away, to ‘clear out’. Originally U.S.
  • pooter 1907– intransitive . To depart in a hurry; to bustle or hurry off .
  • to take a run-out powder 1909– U.S. to take a run-out powder ( colloquial ): to leave; to flee, abscond; cf. powder , n.¹ phrases P.3.
  • blow 1912– To go away, to leave hurriedly. slang (originally U.S. ).
  • to buzz off 1914– slang . To go (quickly). to buzz off : to go off or away quickly. Also to buzz in : to come in (quickly), to enter.
  • to hop it 1914– to hop it : to be off, go away quickly.
  • skate 1915– colloquial . To depart speedily.
  • beetle 1919– intransitive . To fly off; to go, make one's way, move (like a beetle); frequently with off , away , etc.
  • scram 1928– intransitive . To depart quickly. Frequently imperative .
  • amscray 1931– intransitive . To depart quickly, to scram. Chiefly in imperative .
  • boogie 1940– intransitive . Originally U.S. To move or go, esp. in a hurry; to escape. Frequently with down , on , out . Cf. bug , v.³ 1. Also figurative .
  • skidoo 1949– intransitive . To go away, leave, or depart hurriedly. Frequently imperative .
  • bug 1950– intransitive . Frequently with out . To run away, flee; to retreat hurriedly.
  • do a flit 1952– The action of flitting. A removal; spec. do a flit , to decamp.
  • to do a scarper 1958– In to do a scarper , to run away, ‘do a bunk’.
  • to hit, split or take the breeze 1959– Slang phrases: to hit, split or take the breeze : to depart; to get (have)or put the breeze up : to get or put the wind up (see wind , n.¹ II.10b).
  • to do a runner 1980– to do a runner : to escape by running away, to abscond; (hence) to depart hastily or furtively, esp. in order to avoid something or someone.
  • to be (also get, go) ghost 1986– U.S. colloquial (originally and chiefly in African American usage). to be (also get, go) ghost : to leave a place or situation, esp. suddenly or…
  • nope 2011– intransitive . With out : to withdraw from or exit an unpleasant or undesirable situation, esp. hastily or definitively; to put an abrupt end to.
Se casere hi het gemartyrian, ond God wuldriende heo ageaf hire gast.
He ȝaff hiss fule gast To farenn inn till helle.
With þusse worde he ȝaf þene gost .
Jhesus eftsoone criede with a greet voyce, and ȝaf vp the goost [ E.V. c 1384 Douce MS. 369(2) sente out the spirit; Latin emisit spiritum ] .
He gasped thryse, and gaue away the ghost .
Hee instantly gave up the ghost with these words, Gods wounds, I am slain!
It was his last Wish..He breathed it out, and gave up the Ghost .
A tiger..shot through the still capable of killing half-a-dozen men before giving up the ghost .
His mother died soon after, giving up the ghost with a sigh that sounded positively happy, for it was her own son who ministered to her in her last illness.
[She] was so seriously sick that many of her colleagues thought she would give up the ghost .
  • adead Old English–1400 intransitive . To die. Also in extended use and figurative .
  • dead Old English–1425 To become dead. literal . To die.
  • die Old English– intransitive . To lose life, cease to live, suffer death; to expire.
  • fall Old English– intransitive . To drop down dead; to be killed; esp. to die in battle or on active service. Also occasionally: †to be wounded ( obsolete ). Cf. fallen …
  • forfere Old English–1400 intransitive . To perish.
  • forswelt Old English–1225 intransitive . To die, perish.
  • forthfare Old English–1375 To decease, die.
  • forworth Old English–1340 intransitive . To perish, come to nought, go wrong.
  • i-wite Old English–1275 intransitive . To go away, depart; to decease, die.
  • quele Old English–1398 intransitive . To die.
  • starve Old English–1657 intransitive . Of a person or animal: to die. Also figurative of the soul. Obsolete .
  • swelt Old English– To die, perish.
  • to go (also depart , pass, i-wite, chare) out of this world Old English– to go (also depart, pass, †i-wite, †chare) out of this world and variants: to die.
  • to shed (one's own) blood Old English– With pregnant sense. (a) to shed the blood of (another person or persons): to kill in a manner involving effusion of blood; often loosely , to kill…
  • to take (also nim, underfo) (the) death Old English–1488 to take (also nim, underfo) (the) death : to meet one's death, to die. Obsolete .
  • wend Old English–1800 intransitive . To depart from life; to die. Usually with adverb or prepositional phrase, as to wend from (also †of) life , to wend hence , to wend ou …
  • wite Old English–1532 intr. To go, go away , depart; to perish, vanish away .
  • end c1175– To die. rare in modern use. Also to end up ( slang ).
  • fare c1175–1400 In wider sense = go , v. To depart from life; to die. Obsolete .
  • to give up the ghost c1175– Of a person or animal: to die. Cf. sense A.I.1.
  • let c1200–1587 To lose (one's life, virtue, honour, etc.). Obsolete .
  • aswelt a1250–1300 intransitive . To perish, die, become extinct.
  • leave a1250– transitive . To part with, be deprived of, lose. Chiefly in to leave one's life and variants.
  • to-swelt c1275 ( intransitive ) to perish, die.
  • to-worth c1275 intransitive . To come to nought; to perish.
  • to yield (up) the ghost (soul, breath, life, spirit) c1290– to yield (up) the ghost (soul, breath, life, spirit) : to ‘give up the ghost’, die, expire. archaic .
  • fine a1300–1535 intransitive . To come to an end, pass away; to cease to exist. Also: to come to the end of one's life; to die.
  • spill a1300–1592 intransitive . To perish; to be destroyed or lost. Obsolete .
  • part ?1316– intransitive . Frequently with hence, out of this life , etc.: to die. Cf. depart , v. II.7. Now rare and formal .
  • to leese one's life-days a1325 A day or some period of a person's life; (chiefly in plural ) a person's life or lifetime, ‘(all) the days of (one's) life’.
  • to nim the way of death c1325 In figurative contexts which consciously retain the idea of travelling, frequently (esp. in early use) with regard to a person's spiritual journey…
  • tine c1330– intransitive . To be lost, ruined, or destroyed; to perish: = lose , v.¹ 1.
  • to tine, leave, lose the sweat c1330–1513 The life-blood: in to tine, leave, lose the sweat : to lose one's life-blood, die. Obsolete .
  • flit 1340 intransitive . To shift one's position, either in a material or immaterial sense; to be gone, depart, pass away, remove. Also with away , or const. f …
  • trance 1340–1632 intransitive . (a) To ‘pass away’, to die. (b) To swoon, faint. (c) To be in extreme dread, doubt, or suspense. Obsolete .
  • determine c1374– intransitive (for reflexive ). To come to an end; to cease to exist or be in force; to expire, to die. (Now chiefly in Law .)
  • disperish a1382–82 intransitive . To perish utterly.
  • to go the way of all the earth a1382– to go the way of all the earth (also world) : to die. Also (in quot. 1600 and allusions to it) to walk the way of nature .
  • to be gathered to one's fathers 1382– In the Biblical phrase to be gathered to one's fathers (also to be gathered to one's people ): to be buried with one's ancestors; hence, to die.
  • miscarry c1387–1749 intransitive . To come to harm, suffer misfortune, perish; (of a person) to meet with death; (of an inanimate object) to be lost or destroyed. Obsolete …
  • shut 1390 figurative ( transitive ) To close (one's life). Obsolete .
  • go a1393– intransitive . Simply: to depart from life, die. Cf. to go away 2a at phrasal verbs 2a, to go off 6a at phrasal verbs 6a, to go under 2 at phrasal…
  • expire a1400– intransitive . Of a person or animal: To breathe one's last; to die.
  • flee a1400 To depart this life.
  • to die up a1400–1570 To die off entirely, to perish. Obsolete .
  • to pass away a1400– intransitive . In early use: (of a person's soul or life) to depart from the body. Later: (of a person) to die. Cf. to pass out at phrasal verbs PV.1.
  • to seek out of life a1400–50 To go, move, proceed (in a specified direction). Widely used in Middle English; e.g. to seek up , to rise (from a sitting posture); to seek asunder …
  • to sye hethen a1400– to sye hethen (= hence) or to sye of life , to depart this life, die.
  • espire c1430– ? Mistake for enspire = inspire , v.
  • to end one's days ?a1439– to end one's days : to reach the end of one's life; to die. Cf. sense III.16a.
  • decease 1439– intransitive . To depart from life; to die.
  • to go away ?a1450– intransitive . To die, pass away.
  • ungo c1450 intransitive . To pass away, perish.
  • unlive c1450 intransitive . To die, to cease to exist. Obsolete .
  • to change one's life a1470–1876 to change (one's, this, the) life : to die. Obsolete ( archaic and rare in later use).
  • vade 1495–1678 To pass away, disappear, vanish; to decay or perish; = fade , v.¹ 6.
  • trespass a1500–23 intransitive (in form trepass .) To pass beyond this life; to die. Also transitive in to trepass this life . trepassed , deceased. (The only sense in…
  • depart 1501– intransitive . To leave this world, decease, die, pass away. (Now only to depart from (this) life .)
  • to pay one's debt to (also the debt of) nature a1513– debt to (also of) nature (also †nature's debt ): the necessity of dying, death; to pay one's debt to (also the debt of) nature : to die. Now rare .
  • to decease this world 1515 to decease this world (cf. to depart this life at depart , v. II.8). Obsolete . rare .
  • to go over ?1520– intransitive . To change one's party or allegiance; to transfer from one side to another.
  • jet 1530–1777 intransitive . To go; to walk, stroll. Obsolete .
  • vade 1530–1625 With away .
  • to go west a1532– Originally Scottish ( figurative ) To die.
  • to pick over the perch 1532–1662 To fall. intransitive . to pick over the perch : to fall off one's perch; to pitch forward; ( figurative ) to die. Cf. to peck over the perch at peck , v.² …
  • galp a1535–58 transitive . To vomit forth ; also figurative , to give up (the ghost).
  • to die the death 1535– to die a (specified) death : to die by or suffer a particular death. to die the death : to suffer death, to be put to death.
  • to depart to God 1548 To die and go to heaven. Also to depart to God . In early use also †to fere (or i-wite) to God . Cf. to pass to God at pass , v. II.6a.
  • to go home 1561– To the afterlife, heaven, or some other place of future existence; (also) to the grave. Also in to go home : to die. Cf. home , n.¹ A.I.3, welcome , n.² …
  • mort 1568 intransitive . To die.
  • to play tapple up tail 1570– English regional (chiefly northern ). In phrases with tail as the object of the verb or the prepositional object in a complement of the verb…
  • inlaik c1575– To fail through death; to decease.
  • shuffle 1576– intransitive . To move the feet along the ground without lifting them, so as to make a scraping noise; to walk with such a motion of the feet; to go…
  • finish 1578–1616 To die. Obsolete .
  • relent 1587 intransitive . To give up one's life, to die. Obsolete . rare .
  • to hop (also tip, pitch over, drop off, etc.) the perch 1587– to hop (also tip, pitch over, drop off, etc.) the perch and variants ( slang ): to die.
  • unbreathe 1589– intransitive . To cease to breathe; to expire, die.
  • transpass 1592 intransitive . To pass away, depart, die.
  • to lose one's breath 1596 To incur the privation of (something that one possesses or has control of); to part with through… With object a limb, a faculty, one's life, etc. to …
  • to make a die (of it) 1611– Only in to make a die (of it) = to die.
  • to go off a1616– intransitive . To die, pass away. Now somewhat rare .
  • fail 1623–1878 To die. Obsolete .
  • to go out 1635– intransitive . To die. Chiefly with complement indicating the manner of dying.
  • to peak over the perch a1641 intransitive . to peak over the perch : to fall off one's perch (in quot. 1641 figurative : to die). Obsolete . rare .
  • exit a1652– intransitive . figurative and in figurative contexts; spec. ( literary ) to die, to depart from life.
  • drop 1654– figurative . To die. See also to drop off at phrasal verbs.
  • to knock off a1657– intransitive . To desist, leave off; to cease from one's work or occupation; slang to die.
  • to kick up a1658–1813 intransitive . To die (cf. 1b). Obsolete .
  • to pay nature her due 1657–61 to pay nature her due : to fulfil a physical need; spec. to die. Obsolete . rare .
  • ghost 1666–89 intransitive . To die; = to give up the ghost at ghost , n. & adj. phrases P.1a. Obsolete .
  • to march off 1693–4 to march off . intransitive . To die. Obsolete .
  • pike 1697 intransitive . Now colloquial . To depart; to proceed, go, run ( away , off , etc.); ( figurative ) to die. Also transitive with it as object.
  • to bite the ground (also earth, sand, etc.) 1697 to bite the ground (also earth, sand, etc.) : to fall to the ground as when wounded, esp. fatally; to die. In later use chiefly in to bite the dust …
  • to die off 1697– To go off, be removed or carried off, one after another, by death.
  • tip (over) the perch 1699– to tip off , also simply to tip , or tip (over) the perch : to die. slang or dialect .
  • to drop off 1699– intransitive . To die; = I.5b.
  • to pass (also go, be called, etc.) to one's reward 1703– to pass (also go, be called, etc.) to one's reward and variants: to go to heaven, to die. Also in ironic use.
  • to bite the dust 1712 to bite the dust : (a) To fall to the ground as when wounded, esp. fatally; to die; (b) (more generally; somewhat colloquial ) to come to a disastrous…
  • sink 1718– intransitive . To fail in health or strength; to decline rapidly ( under some trouble or ailment). Formerly also: †to die ( obsolete ).
  • vent 1718 poetic . To pour out (one's soul) in death. Obsolete .
  • to launch into eternity 1719 figurative . To start (a person) in , into , or on a business, career, etc.; to set on foot (a project); to commence (an action). Also with out . to launc …
  • to join the majority 1721– the majority : the dead. Chiefly in phrases to join the majority and to go (also pass over) to the majority : to die. Now rare .
  • demise 1727– intransitive . To resign the crown; to die, decease. rare .
  • to pack off 1735– intransitive . To leave, depart.
  • to slip one's cable 1751– to slip one's cable , to die.
  • turf 1763 transferred . To place or lay under the turf; to cover with turf, or as turf does; to bury; also intransitive with it , to die and be buried.
  • to move off 1764 intransitive . colloquial . To die. Cf. to go off 6a at go , v. phrasal verbs 6a. Obsolete . rare .
  • to pop (off) 1764– slang . intransitive . to pop (off) : to die. Also to pop off the hooks .
  • to hop off 1797– to hop the twig : to depart, go off, or be dismissed suddenly; (also simply to hop , to hop off ) to die. to hop the wag : to play truant. slang .
  • to pass on 1805– intransitive . To proceed from one existence or activity to another; spec. ( euphemistic ) to die.
  • to go to glory 1814– colloquial . to go to glory : to go to heaven; to die.
  • sough 1816– With away : To breathe one's last; to die.
  • to hand in one's accounts 1817–73 U.S. colloquial . to hand in one's accounts : to die. Cf. to go to one's account at sense III.7. Obsolete .
  • to slip one's breath or wind a1819– to slip one's breath or wind , to expire; to die. colloquial .
  • croak 1819– intransitive . slang . To die.
  • stiffen 1820– intransitive . Of persons: To become stiff or rigid; also, to die. Also figurative .
  • weed 1824 Scottish (chiefly literary ). With away . intransitive . To die off, pass away. Obsolete . rare .
  • to buy it 1826– to buy it : to suffer some mishap or reverse; esp. to be wounded; to get killed, to die; to be damaged or destroyed. Cf. sense I.2b, to buy the farm …
  • to drop short 1826– intransitive . colloquial or slang . To die.
  • to fall (a) prey (also victim, sacrifice) to 1839– to fall (a) prey (also victim, †sacrifice) to and variants: to become a victim of; to be harmed, destroyed, or killed by; (now) esp. to be deceived…
  • to get one's (also the) call 1839– figurative . A summons to die; a sign of impending death. Cf. last call , n. 1. Now rare .
  • to drop (etc.) off the hooks 1840– to drop (etc.) off the hooks : to die. slang .
  • to unreeve one's lifeline 1840– transitive . Chiefly Nautical slang . to unreeve one's lifeline : to die.
  • to step out 1844– To die; to disappear. U.S. slang . ? Obsolete .
  • to cash, pass or send in one's checks 1845– A counter used in card games ( U.S. ); hence ( colloquial ) to hand in one's checks : to die. Also to cash, pass or send in one's checks . (Originally…
  • to hand in one's checks 1845– A counter used in card games ( U.S. ); hence ( colloquial ) to hand in one's checks : to die. Also to cash, pass or send in one's checks . (Originally…
  • to go off the handle 1848–72 U.S. To die. Obsolete . rare .
  • to go under 1848– intransitive . Chiefly U.S. slang . To die. Now rare .
  • succumb 1849– spec. To yield to the attacks of a disease, the effect of wounds, an operation, etc.; hence, to die.
  • to turn one's toes up 1851– Phrases (chiefly colloquial and slang ). to turn one's toes up , to die; hence toes up , lying dead.
  • to peg out 1852– intransitive . slang . To die; (formerly also) †to be ruined ( obsolete ).
  • walk 1858 To go away, leave, depart. intransitive . Simply or with † away , forth . Formerly often in imperative in sense ‘begone’, with a vocative of some…
  • snuff 1864– intransitive . To die. slang or colloquial . Also const. out .
  • to go or be up the flume 1865– U.S. , etc. U.S. slang . to go or be up the flume : to ‘come to grief’, ‘be done for’; to die.
  • to pass out c1867– intransitive . To die. Cf. to pass away at phrasal verbs PV.1. Now chiefly U.S. regional .
  • to cash in one's chips 1870– colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S. ). to hand (also pass, cash) in one's chips and variants: to die; (now also more generally) to withdraw or…
  • to go (also pass over) to the majority 1883– the majority : the dead. Chiefly in phrases to join the majority and to go (also pass over) to the majority : to die. Now rare .
  • to cash in 1884– to cash in figurative . To die. (Also without in .) Also with checks as object.
  • to cop it 1884– To ‘catch’ it, to be punished, get into trouble; also, to die.
  • snuff 1885– With it : = 3a. slang .
  • perch 1886 intransitive . slang . To die. Cf. to hop the perch at perch , n.¹ phrases P.2, perch , n.¹ III.6d, percher , n.³ 1. Obsolete . rare .
  • to belly up 1886– intransitive . colloquial (originally U.S. ). to belly up : to turn over or belly upwards; ( figurative ) to fail, become defunct, or give in; to die; to…
  • to kick the bucket 1889– transitive . To strike (anything) with the foot. to kick the wind or clouds , to be hanged ( slang ). to kick the bucket , to die ( slang ): see bucket , n.² …
  • off 1890– intransitive . To go off, make off ( nonstandard or humorous ). Frequently as to up and off . Also transitive , with it : to depart; ( slang ) to die. Cf…
  • to knock over 1892– intransitive . To succumb; to die. colloquial or slang .
  • to pass over 1897– intransitive . figurative . To die.
  • to stop one 1901– colloquial (originally Military ). To be hit by (a bullet). Phrases to stop one : to be hit or killed; to stop a packet : see to cop (also stop, catch, …
  • to pass in 1904– To hand in, return, or cash in (a form of currency). Chiefly figurative ( colloquial ) in to pass in one's cheques (U.S. checks) , to pass in one's chips …
  • the silver cord is loosed 1911– (a) Used in the silver cord is loosed and variants (in allusion to Ecclesiastes xii. 6) to signify the dissolution of life at death; (b) a symbol…
  • to hand in one's marble 1911– Australian slang . to hand (also chuck, throw) in one's marble : to die, to give up. to pass in one's marble : see pass , v.
  • pip 1913– intransitive . To die. Also with out . Now rare .
  • to cross over 1915– To pass over a line, boundary, river, channel, etc.; to pass from one side to the other of any space. intransitive . Biology . to cross over : of…
  • conk 1917– intransitive . To break down, give out, fail, or show signs of failing; to die, collapse, or lose consciousness. Also figurative . Also with out .
  • to check out 1921– intransitive . colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S. ). to check out : to die. Cf. sense IV.16e.
  • to kick off 1921– To die. slang (originally U.S. ).
  • to pack up 1925– intransitive . colloquial (chiefly British ). = to pack in at phrasal verbs.
  • to step off 1926– intransitive . To die. Cf. to step out at phrasal verbs PV.1. slang . rare .
  • to take the ferry 1928– Used in figurative expressions alluding to death, as to take the ferry , etc., with reference to the boat in which Charon transported the spirits of…
  • peg 1931– intransitive . slang . To die; also transitive with it as object. Cf. to peg out 3 at phrasal verbs.
  • to meet one's Maker 1933– to meet one's Maker : (in extended use) to die; (sometimes humorously, of a thing) to be destroyed.
  • to kiss off 1935– Phrases. to kiss off slang , (a) transitive to dismiss, get rid of, kill (see also quot. 1935); (b) intransitive to go away, die.
  • to crease it 1959– transitive . To stun (a horse, etc.) by a shot in the ‘crest’ or ridge of the neck. Also, to stun (a person); to kill; to exhaust physically; to crea …
  • zonk 1968– intransitive . To fail; to lose consciousness, to die.
  • cark 1977– intransitive . To die.
  • to bite it 1977– North American slang . to bite it : = to bite the dust at phrases P.1b.
  • to cark it 1979– transitive . to cark it : to die. (Now the more common use.)
  • to take a dirt nap 1981– Death; an instance of dying. Frequently in to take a dirt nap : to die.
Whatsoeuer good affection or minde they had, it gaue vp the ghost at least when this goodly enterprise of the league began.
With Augustulus it [ sc. the Roman Empire ] gave up the ghost .
My vessels, thou know'st, No sooner are tap'd, but they give up the ghost .
The old mill..has tumbled down and given up the ghost .
A simple, mass-produced car..must be expected to give up the ghost to a procession of rattlings and bonkings soon after it has travelled 50,000 miles.
The path gives up the ghost altogether at times and I reach down between huge boulders that fill the gully.
One Lady's pregnant Brain has slain whole hosts Of Rabbys, and quite laid their Paper ghosts , Which haunted all our Studies.
He hired Conjurers to lay the Ghost of his Mother.
He knows the Secret of laying Ghosts , or of quieting Houses that are haunted.
A Newbury minister..rode..over to Hampton to lay a ghost who had materialized himself.
I used to laugh at ghost-laying until I was faced during World War II with having to lay a ghost in a house in southern England.
He hoped..that their decision..would ratify the former verdict, and lay the ghost of average loss at rest forever in the Red Sea.
It is not my intention to raise, or lay the ghosts of departed objections.
Be my wife and put an end to the matter; lay the ghosts of the past.
She had not been back to Trenalt quarry since that picnic in the summer of 1938. It occurred to her with the force of a revelation that sometimes you had to go back if you wanted to lay ghosts .
Can'st thou not speak? hast thou seen a Ghost ?
‘What the devil ails you?’ exclaimed the ruffian; ‘ have you seen a ghost , that you shiver and shake so?’
Spire..stood thunderstruck at the door. ‘What's the matter with you? Have you seen a ghost ?’ asked Cosmo.
You look dreadful. White as a sheet. Have you seen a ghost ?
Solemn saw me, and started and star'd as if he had seen a Ghost .
You look as if you had seen a ghost . For heaven's sake, act like a rational being, and do not stare about you with that bewildered look.
I opened the door all bleary and this little ginger chap is gaping at me like he's seen a ghost .
Glory? Are you all right? You look like you've seen a ghost .
I might lay this poor disturbed Ghost to rest ; that he should be confined to the Lower Shades, and wander about the World no more.
Dear Mr. S****** pray your best, And lay the Captain's Ghost to rest .
I do not think the good Thomas Flavel, or any other exorciser, could lay my ghost to rest .
Casting out demons and laying ghosts to rest is routine for Dominic Walker, Church of England vicar and exorcist.
I thought we had settled that question for good and for all and laid another controversial ghost to rest .
Mr Bush, who delivered three brief but emotional addresses, spent most of his energy laying the ghosts of the past to rest .
Nora who's spent much of the past few months urging me to get out there and meet someone so that I can lay the ghost of my failed fling with Dillon O'Hara to rest , is a bit down on the whole idea of Adam.
I wrote my first novel..a semi-fictionalised version of my childhood that enabled me to lay at least a few ghosts to rest .
Poore Pierce Pennilesse, haue they turnd to a coniuring booke, for there is not that line in it, with which they doo not seeke to raise vp a Ghost .
Saul commandeth the witch to raise Samuel's ghost .
The object of the last administration was to cherish and nurture religious and political animosities; to raise up the ghost of buried prejudices;..and to divide a uniting people.
We are fighting here against ghosts raised by ourselves.
Santos prepared to run round an oak tree 100 times in an endeavour to raise a ghost .
Shady's brother is accused of murder, and the only way to clear his name is to raise the ghost of the person he might have killed.
Efne ic gebringe flodes wæteru ofer eorðan, ðæt ic ofslea eall flæsc on ðam ðe is lifes gast under heofonum.
Alle þat glydez and gotz and gost of lyf habbez.
He took this dose [of opium] every day for some time, and the ghost of life didn't desert him, or the angel of death gather him during this period.
Take now here the ghost of life , And receive both your souls of me.
Death in itself..was perfectly avoidable, since all that was required was refusal to give up the ‘ Ghost of Life ’.
He came over to Ireland; but so pale and dejected, that he looked like the Ghost of his former self .
Our Midsummer Fair on Saturday last was but the ghost of its former self . Some twenty or thirty years ago it was highly distinguished.
To my surprise she was sitting in an armchair beside her bed. Looking however the ghost of her former self .
The country will be laid to waste, its brilliant institutions becoming ghosts of their former selves .
‘The march of intellect’ has advanced too far to leave the ‘ ghost of a chance ’ for their miserable but impudent schemes.
The sailors were kept constantly at the pumps, although so instantaneous was the rush of water into the hold, that they did little or no good; there seemed in fact, not the ghost of a chance left us; even the mate had ceased whistling.
No able-bodied male patriot would stand a ghost of a chance in the matter of getting an office.
I would go back to Finland or Russia or anywhere if I thought I had the ghost of a chance of finding him again.
Just when it seemed that Italy did not have a ghost of a chance of winning the World Cup, Rossi came alive against Brazil.
How the spectre of the Hartford Convention troubles this poor man, and always rises, like Banquo's Ghost at the banquet, before him.
Turning to another column of the same paper we find charges of treason against numerous unknown citizens, acting the part of ghost at this feast , and marring its otherwise glorious features.
Surely, Tolstoism is the ghost at the banquet , unnerving Europe when it is complementing itself on its civilization.
My friends were busy with their families and, as a childless widow, I felt like a ghost at the feast .
‘What on earth is the matter?’ he said; ‘you look as if you had seen a ghost.’ ‘So I have,’ she answered; ‘a ghost from the past .’
Tony was a ghost from her other life , and she..buried her head upon his shoulder.
An old ghost from the past reappeared, the so-called gold hedge share, for currency doubters.
You won't believe who I ran into last week. A ghost from my past : Laurel Arquette.
Much of Kant's value as a philosopher lies in the attempt he made to escape from the philosophical myth which has been named ‘ the ghost in the machine ’.
The dogma of the Ghost in the machine ..maintains that there exist both bodies and minds; that there are mechanical causes of corporeal movements and mental causes of corporeal movements.
Chalmers..thinks that consciousness is the ghost in the machine , the secret irreducible presence in the mind that distinguishes us from computers and goldfish.
  • ghost in the machine 1948– Philosophy . Usually with the . The mind viewed as a different kind of substance or entity from the body.
The bogeyman of the Sixties was the Computer... It was treated as superstitiously as though there were in fact a ghost in the machine .
They think that these ‘ ghosts in the machine ’ are caused by the buildup of high voltages in the circuits and skin of a satellite immersed in the electrically charged plasma of the Earth's magnetosphere.
The geek in me looks forward to the day when I can summon a driverless pod via my phone and be transported to my destination by a ghost in the machine , as it were, with minimal fuss.
This tale has made their hair curl with two visions: the Ghost of Hitler Past and the Ghost of Hitlers Yet to Come .
What is really worrying the markets, however, is the ghost of Budgets future .
So the Workers' City group was presented as an unpatriotic bunch of philistines, the ghost of Stalinist past and workerist future.
The Ghost of Farming Present —Political chaos, wild weather, 24-hour social media and the burden of poor diets mean that many farmers can be forgiven for feeling bewildered and uncertain which way to turn.
On Saturday the actors at Drury Lane were struck with horror to find that no ‘ghost walked’ ; that is, that the treasury was shut.
If I played with applause, it was a matter of indifference whether ‘the ghost’ walked on Saturday or not.
An Actor's Benevolent Fund box placed on the treasurer's desk every day when the ghost walks would get many an odd shilling or sixpence put into it.
There is always one day when no one on the office staff calls in sick. That is the day the ghost walks —payday.
[He] murmurs ‘ The ghost walks ’ in anticipation of payday at the Evening Telegraph.
  • the ghost walks 1831– Originally Theatre slang . the ghost walks and variants: salaries are paid.


Pronunciation keys.

  • ð th ee
  • ɬ rhingy ll

Some consonants can take the function of the vowel in unstressed syllables. Where necessary, a syllabic marker diacritic is used, hence <petal> /ˈpɛtl/ but <petally> /ˈpɛtl̩i/.

  • a trap, bath
  • ɑː start, palm, bath
  • ɔː thought, force
  • ᵻ (/ɪ/-/ə/)
  • ᵿ (/ʊ/-/ə/)

Other symbols

  • The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress.
  • The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress.
  • Round brackets ( ) in a transcription indicate that the symbol within the brackets is optional.

View the pronunciation model here .

* /d/ also represents a 'tapped' /t/ as in <bitter>

Some consonants can take the function of the vowel in unstressed syllables. Where necessary, a syllabic marker diacritic is used, hence <petal> /ˈpɛd(ə)l/ but <petally> /ˈpɛdl̩i/.

  • i fleece, happ y
  • æ trap, bath
  • ɑ lot, palm, cloth, thought
  • ɔ cloth, thought
  • ɔr north, force
  • ə strut, comm a
  • ər nurse, lett er
  • ɛ(ə)r square
  • æ̃ sal on

Simple Text Respell

Simple text respell breaks words into syllables, separated by a hyphen. The syllable which carries the primary stress is written in capital letters. This key covers both British and U.S. English Simple Text Respell.

b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w and z have their standard English values

  • arr carry (British only)
  • a(ng) gratin
  • o lot (British only)
  • orr sorry (British only)
  • o(ng) salon

Date of use

Variant forms.

  • early Old English gæsð
  • Old English gaas ( Northumbrian , probably transmission error) , gas (perhaps transmission error) , gastastes (genitive, transmission error) , gasð (perhaps transmission error)
  • Old English–early Middle English gæst
  • Old English–Middle English gaast , gast ( northern in later use)
  • early Middle English ȝast
  • early Middle English–1500s gost
  • Middle English gaste ( northern and north midlands ) , goest , goist ( east midlands ) , gosthe , igaste (in a copy of an Old English charter)
  • Middle English–1500s goost , gooste , goste
  • late Middle English–1500s ghoost
  • late Middle English–1600s ghoste
  • late Middle English–1500s ; 1900s– ghooste , ghost
  • 1500s–1600s ghoast , goast
  • 1700s ghest
  • 1800s ghos ( U.S. regional regional, in African American usage)
  • 1800s– ghos' ( U.S. regional , in African American usage)
  • pre-1700 gaast , gast , gayste , gest , ghoist , goist , goost , gost , goste
  • pre-1700 ; 1800s gaste
  • pre-1700 ; 1700s– gaist , ghaist
  • 1800s g'aist
  • 1800s–1900s guest
  • 1900s gase (in sense A.V.16 )

ghost typically occurs about ten times per million words in modern written English.

ghost is in frequency band 6, which contains words occurring between 10 and 100 times per million words in modern written English. More about OED's frequency bands

Frequency of ghost, n. & adj. , 1750–2010

* Occurrences per million words in written English

Historical frequency series are derived from Google Books Ngrams (version 2), a data set based on a corpus of several million books printed in English between 1500 and 2010. The Ngrams data has been cross-checked against frequency measures from other corpora, and re-analysed in order to handle homographs and other ambiguities.

The overall frequency for a given word is calculated by summing frequencies for the main form of the word, any plural or inflected forms, and any major spelling variations.

Frequency of ghost, n. & adj. , 2017–2023

Modern frequency series are derived from a corpus of 20 billion words, covering the period from 2017 to the present. The corpus is mainly compiled from online news sources, and covers all major varieties of World English.

Compounds & derived words

  • All compounds & derived words
  • Curated compounds
  • ghostless , adj. Old English– Of a place: not haunted by ghosts.
  • Holy Ghost , n. Old English– Chiefly with the and capital initials. The Third Person (person, n. III.6a) of the Trinity, God as spiritually active in the world; = Holy Spirit, n…
  • ghosted , adj. c1450– That has been written by a ghostwriter; = ghost-written, adj.
  • ghosty , adj. 1519– Of or relating to ghosts; esp. resembling or reminiscent of a ghost; ghostly, ghost-like; (also of an idea, etc.) faint, remote; cf. ghost, n. A.V.14.
  • ghostishly , adv. c1565– In a ghostly manner.
  • ghost-like , adj. & adv. 1573– Resembling, characteristic of, or reminiscent of a ghost, esp. in appearance.
  • ghost , v. a1616– transitive. To write (a book, article, etc.) for another person, under whose name it is then published. Also in extended use with reference to other…
  • local ghost , n. 1619– A guardian spirit or god associated with a place; = genius loci, n.
  • be-ghost , v. 1620–74 To make a ghost of; to teach (one) how to play the ghost.
  • ghosting , n. 1637– The action of ignoring or pretending not to know a person, esp. that of suddenly ceasing to respond to someone on social media, by text message…
  • ghost god , n. a1638– The deified or revered spirit of a deceased person (cf. ghost-demon, n.).
  • ghostess , n. 1651– A female ghost.
  • ghost-demon , n. 1677– The deified or animate spirit of a deceased person (cf. ghost god, n.).
  • ghostship , n.¹ ?1689– With possessive adjective, as in his ghostship, your ghostship: a mock title of respect for a ghost.
  • ghost story , n. 1730– A story about ghosts or the supernatural, intended to be frightening or thrilling.
  • ghost moth , n. 1776– (Originally) a European moth, Hepialus humuli; (in later use more widely) any of various moths comprising the family Hepialidae.
  • ghostism , n. 1782– Belief in ghosts; spec. the belief that incorporeal spirits (esp. those of the dead) can make themselves known to or communicate with the living…
  • ghost-hunting , n. 1794– The practice or activity of searching for ghosts, poltergeists, etc.; the investigation of supposed paranormal activity.
  • ghost hunter , n. 1796– A person who searches for ghosts, poltergeists, etc.; a person who investigates supposed paranormal activity.
  • ghost-raiser , n. 1798– A person who performs a magic or other ritual intended to summon a ghost; a person who causes a ghost or spirit to appear (cf. to raise (up) a ghost).
  • ghost seer , n. 1799– A person believed to have the ability to see ghosts.
  • ghostish , adj. 1801– Resembling or reminiscent of a ghost or ghostly activity; ghost-like.
  • ghostified , adj. 1806– Haunted by ghosts; spooky.
  • ghost ship , n.² 1806– An apparition of a spectral or phantasmal ship, the sighting of which is often regarded as an ill omen. Cf. ghost train, n. 2a.
  • ghostie , n. 1810– A ghost.
  • ghost swift , n. 1819– (More fully ghost swift moth) a European moth, Hepialus humuli, the male of which has wings with a silvery white upperside; cf. ghost moth, n.
  • ghost-coal , n. 1824 A piece of dead coal that is white instead of glowing or burning; = ghost, n. A.V.16.
  • ghostology , n. 1824– The body of stories and beliefs relating to ghosts. Also: the study of these beliefs and stories; (more widely) the study of ghosts.
  • ghost hunt , n. 1825– A search for ghosts, poltergeists, etc.; an investigation of supposed paranormal activity.
  • ghostily , adv. c1825– In a ghostly or ghost-like manner.
  • ghostlet , n. 1826– A little ghost.
  • ghostlore , n. 1833– The body of stories and beliefs relating to ghosts.
  • anti-ghostism , n. a1834
  • ghost-hunting , adj. 1840– That searches for ghosts, poltergeists, etc.; engaged in ghost-hunting.
  • ghosthood , n. 1842– The state or condition of being a ghost.
  • ghostdom , n. 1846– The non-physical realm which incorporeal or disembodied spirits are considered to inhabit; the home or world of ghosts. Also occasionally: the state…
  • ghost light , n. 1849– Phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night, esp. over marshy ground, that appears to move away when approached; an instance of this; a…
  • ghost bird , n. 1851– Any of various birds that have been likened to a ghost, esp. in appearance or in having an eerie call; (also) a bird of ill omen; cf. jumbie bird, n.
  • ghost crab , n. 1854– †(a) The ghost shrimp Caprella linearis (obsolete); (b) any of various pale-coloured shore crabs constituting the subfamily Ocypodinae, native to…
  • ghost plant , n. 1856– (a) Indian pipe, Monotropa uniflora, which lacks chlorophyll and is typically whitish-pink in colour; (b) any of several amaranths (genus Amaranthus)…
  • turnip ghost , n. 1856– A ghostly apparition created by the glow of a turnip lantern; in later use often as the type of a bogus or made-up danger.
  • ghostite , n. 1857–1911 A person who believes in ghosts.
  • ghost-wise , adv. 1861– In the manner of a ghost; with regard to ghosts.
  • ghost racket , n. 1866– A prank, scam, or criminal scheme making use of ghosts (in various senses); originally with reference to simulating haunting or ghostly activity in…
  • ghost soul , n. 1869– (In the context of spiritualism and shamanism) the soul of a human or animal that animates the body but can exist and travel separately from it, as…
  • ghost image , n. 1872– A faint, transient, secondary, or spurious image caused by reflection, equipment defect, etc. (cf. ghost, n. A.V.17).
  • Ghost Dance , n. 1876– Among certain North American peoples in the late 19th cent.: a shuffling, circular ritual dance, often lasting several days, intended to bring about…
  • ghost train , n. 1878– Originally British. A fairground ride which travels through a dark tunnel featuring sound and light effects, mechanized figures and objects, etc…
  • ghost orchid , n. 1881– Any of several orchids having white or whitish flowers; esp. (a) an epiphytic orchid native to Florida and the West Indies, Dendrophylax lindenii…
  • ghost candle , n. 1885 (Perhaps) a candle lit near a dead body before burial, intended to ward off ghosts or malevolent spirits.
  • ghost shrimp , n. 1886– (a) Any of various marine amphipods having slender elongated bodies and comprising the family Caprellidae (cf. skeleton shrimp, n.); (b) any of…
  • ghost word , n. 1887– A word or word form that has come into existence by error rather than established usage, e.g. as a result of a typographical error, the incorrect…
  • Ghost Shirt , n. 1890– A shirt or shirt-like garment created and worn by a Ghost Dancer, reputed to give the wearer spiritual powers and protection; cf. Ghost Dancer, n.
  • ghost name , n. 1891– A name that has come into existence by error rather than established usage, e.g. as a result of the incorrect transcription of a manuscript (cf…
  • ghost form , n. 1894– A word or word form that has come into existence by error rather than established usage, e.g. as a result of a typographical error, the incorrect…
  • ghost town , n. 1894– A town partially or completely devoid of its inhabitants; (in early use) esp. a former boom town that has been deserted as a result of the closing…
  • ghost line , n. 1905– An indistinct line visible on a steel surface due to segregation of certain constituents, esp. phosphorus; cf. ghost, n. A.V.19.
  • ghost-written , adj. 1907– Written by a ghostwriter.
  • ghostwriter , n. 1908– A person who writes an article, book, etc., for another person, under whose name it is then published. Cf. ghost, n. A.IV.12.
  • ghost bat , n. 1914– Any of several bats having white or light grey coloration; esp. a large bat native to northern Australia, Macroderma gigas (family Megadermatidae)…
  • ghost squad , n. 1922– (a) A unit of covert detectives or police officers; (b) South African (usually with capital initials) a branch of the police responsible for checking…
  • ghost-write , v. 1927– transitive. To write (an article, book, etc.) for another person, under whose name it is then published.
  • ghostwriting , n. 1927– The action or practice of writing an article, book, etc., for another person, under whose name it is then published; material produced in this way.
  • ghost gum , n. 1928– Any of various Australian eucalypts of the genus Corymbia which have white or whitish bark, esp. C. papuana; (also) the wood of such a tree; cf…
  • ghost note , n. 1928– (a) A (typically unaccented) musical note which has a rhythmic value but little or no discernible pitch; (b) a quiet drumbeat played between the…
  • ghost station , n. 1928– A disused railway station, esp. one through which trains still pass.
  • ghostbusting , n. & adj. 1929– The action of investigating or dealing with supposed paranormal activity or phenomena; spec. (originally) the exposure of bogus claims of paranormal…
  • ghostbuster , n. 1930– A person who investigates or deals with supposed paranormal activity or phenomena; spec. (originally) a sceptic who exposes bogus claims of…
  • ghost car , n. 1931– A car used for a specific task (typically surveillance) which bears no outward sign of its purpose; spec. (chiefly Canadian) an unmarked vehicle used…
  • ghost account , n. 1933– Computing. A user account, esp. on social media, set up under a false identity for the purpose of engaging in illicit, dishonest, or disruptive…
  • ghost marriage , n. 1935– A legal marriage in which one or both of the couple are deceased.
  • ghost family , n. 1938– (Among the Atuot, Dinka, and Nuer people of South Sudan) a family resulting from a ghost marriage (ghost marriage, n.), in which any children are…
  • ghost sign , n. 1941– An old sign or notice displaying obsolete information, or advertising a defunct product or business; (now) esp. a painted sign of this type that…
  • ghost payroller , n. 1952– U.S. colloquial (chiefly derogatory). A person receiving a salary for a job that exists only nominally, or that requires little or no work, and which has been awarded through patronage…
  • Miss Willmott's ghost , n. 1956– A tall biennial Caucasian eryngium, Eryngium giganteum, grown for its silvery-green flower heads.
  • ghost net , n. 1959– A fishing net which has been lost or discarded in the ocean, and presents a danger to the marine environment and its creatures; cf. ghost gear, n.
  • ghost band , n. 1962– A big band that performs under the name of a deceased leader, typically playing the original band's arrangements, or music written in a similar style.
  • ghost fishing , n. 1963– The process by which fish and other marine animals become trapped in or ensnared by lost or discarded fishing equipment; cf. ghost gear, n., ghost…
  • ghost estate , n. 1978– A housing estate which has been largely abandoned; (now) esp. a newly-built estate in which most of the units are uninhabited or unfinished.
  • ghost gear , n. 1983– Fishing gear, such as nets and lines, which has been lost or discarded in the ocean, and presents a danger to the marine environment and its…
  • ghost site , n. 1984– (a) A computer system for which a location is recorded, but which has either been deleted or was never created (cf. site, n. 8a); (b) a website that…
  • ghost bike , n. 2004– A bicycle painted white and left as a memorial at a site where a cyclist was fatally injured in a collision with a motor vehicle.
  • ghost detainee , n. 2004– An unregistered person held anonymously in a detention facility.
  • ghost chilli , n. 2007– (Also more fully ghost chilli pepper) a variety of chilli pepper grown in South Asia; = ghost pepper, n.
  • ghost pepper , n. 2008– A variety of chilli pepper grown in South Asia, a natural hybrid between Capsicum frutescens and C. chinense, which is one of the hottest chillis…
The Ghost Scene in Hamlet .
Rob. What do you want? Cook. It is ghost -time, don't you know? and your night for it too.
Mat Lewis published it with a ghost ballad which he adjusted on the same theme.
The ruins of the old hall, which my maid used to call the ‘ ghost -house’.
The orb that maketh the ghost -hour fair.
The ghost -haunt of guilt.
The rain is too thick for one to see two yards in any direction, and we seem to be in a ghost -land forest.
The Tower of London can boast scores of ghost sightings including the spectre of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's executed wife, carrying her severed head.
Even supposing the absence of ‘ghost’ voters and other frauds.
[They] had stacked the muster rolls with legions of ‘imaginaries’, ghost soldiers , bearing the names of men long since dead, whose sole function was that of drawing pay on behalf of the officers who had resurrected them.
[He] is accused of making many more millions than he declared to tax authorities through the establishment of ghost companies .
Ghost claimants may be created by employers for collection of unemployment insurance.
Some of the people drawing salaries from the Federal Government coffers were ghost workers.
The dismantled place is now known as ‘Spookville’, and as the train whirls by the passenger who is looking for California curios is shown a tent on a hill—all that remains of the ghost town.
Bannack, the first capital of Montana, is today one of the ghost mining camps of the state.
The Civil War had ended, and in its wake it left ghost factories and mills, rusting and silent.
Milan becomes a ghost city in August when everyone leaves for the beach.
White-tailed eagles, lynx and wolves now count among those species that inhabit the ghost villages abandoned years ago.
The question [of] how to deal with ‘ ghost students’, who never even show their faces at schools, and a number of other riddles in connection with the new immigration law remain to be cleared up.
The TSB also has hundreds of thousands of ‘ ghost ’ customers who will also be entitled to preferential treatment if they come out of the woodwork. ‘ Ghost ’ customers hold accounts which have not been used since the TSB computerised all its accounts in 1971.
Whether through mismanagement or purposeful fraud, these ghost patients cost our NHS £88 million a year, so it's vital we get them off the books.
We analysed one hundred menus on Seamless and GrubHub. Slightly more than ten per cent had addresses or names that are false or unregistered. Seamless GrubHub is now asking customers to e-mail the companies if they discover ghost restaurants.
Taco Burger made a name for itself in Western Australia, where it used ghost kitchens to deliver its signature Mexican spiced burgers via Uber Eats.
In the delivery app era, the ghost franchise can be a lifeline for the independent restaurateur.
  • step-saving 1978–
  • ghost 2015– As a modifier, designating a catering business, often operating from low-rent or non-commercial premises, that prepares food ordered online for…
The Ghost -compelling God..will not..unbar the Gates of Death.
This should be borne in mind by political and philosophical ghostseers, ghost lovers, and ghost mongers.
Your modern no ghost -fearing wretch.
Dr. Everard, what prescriptions have you for young ladies who take to ghost -seeing? the form of ghost -fears..pervades every community of..the Afro-Americans in the South.
The great ghost -seeing age is between twenty and twenty-nine.
Enjoyable reading for country-lovers, ghost believers or not.
It was a wet, gloomy day, perfect for ghost -spotting.
The above lines were suggested by a superstition very common among sailors, who call this ghost -ship, I think, ‘the flying Dutch-man’.
‘A ghost coach, Sir,’ replied Cooly; ‘I've hard ov 'em often and often in Ireland’.
I came to the conclusion..that the Pullman with the wet bedclothes and the rotten bellcord, was nothing more or less, than the ghost car. However, I didn't say much more..about it at the time, for the less a man talks about seeing ghosts the better it is for him.
It..kept going, the wheels of its ghost bike making no sound high above the road.
It was a ghost sword ..and no sharper than smoke.
The ghost boy.
An impersonal ghost -hero.
A ghost -dog is believed to follow the midwife when she goes to her duties through the streets of Newcastle.
The ghost child whom the adult narrator also..a resurrection of an ever-present child within.
Our cousin Valeria told us about La Llorona, the ghost woman who wails through the streets because she drowned her own children.
Can I yet liue, Yet longer liue in this Ghost -haunted tombe?
From thence they saile away To ghost -fill'd Tænarus.
A terrible triple-headed Dog..keeps eternal Watch before Pluto's Ghost -inhabited Palace.
Over the empty ghost -trod way.
Hamlet was poisoned— ghost -poisoned.
He might easily imagine it to be one of those weird, grey, ghost -haunted castles.
The one was ghost -ridden, the other fancy free.
To think that Nago would have a ghost -possessed parent!
David asks why I visibly shuddered when he pointed the ghost -inhabited room out to the fellow blossom watcher.
But through the gloom, and on the circumvallating reef, the breakers dashed ghost -white.
What angel, but would seem To sensual eyes, Ghost -dim?
The moon, ghost -wan against the clear bright heaven.
A sloop-of-war, ghost -white and very near.
Through a tear-mist she looked at a myriad ghost -pale lights.
The little brittle bush, ghost -gray along the roadside, sent forth its incense perfume.
Two great swans, ghost -white.
We peered over the edge of the boats at vast forests of kelp and the ghost white wisps of moon jellyfish below.
The pillowed alabaster, ghost -faint even to the eye of Kai's mind.
One day she was sitting high in a tree... Something large flowed at her, ghost -silent.

Entry history for ghost, n. & adj.

ghost, n. & adj. was revised in September 2021

ghost, n. & adj. was last modified in December 2023 is a living text, updated every three months. Modifications may include:

  • further revisions to definitions, pronunciation, etymology, headwords, variant spellings, quotations, and dates;
  • new senses, phrases, and quotations.

Revisions and additions of this kind were last incorporated into ghost, n. & adj. in December 2023.

Earlier versions of ghost, n. & adj. were published in:

OED First Edition (1899)

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Citation details

Factsheet for ghost, n. & adj., browse entry.

'I cannot sleep in peace' - Israelis fearful as Hezbollah tensions soar

  • Published 5 days ago
  • Israel-Gaza war

Efrat Eldan Schechter

Efrat Eldan Schechter is a native of the Northern Galilee and never even considered moving anywhere else to bring up her family - that is until the events of 7 October.

When she heard and watched reports of what was happening in southern Israel that morning, as heavily armed Hamas gunmen streamed out of Gaza, she was immediately taken back to stories from the "Yom Kippur" or 1973 Middle East war, when Israel was attacked simultaneously on two fronts.

"I was terrified. Everyone was sleeping in and I thought it's going to be '73 all over again and Hezbollah is coming for us too," says Efrat, as our interview in her front garden is punctuated by the regular loud thud of outgoing Israeli artillery fire.

"Immediately, I woke everyone up and very quickly got everything together and drove to a relative's house in the centre of Israel."

  • Suspected Israeli strike kills Hezbollah commander
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  • Hamas leader's assassination sparks wider war fears

After a month the family returned to their house near Kiryat Shmona, frustrated because they're still living on the edge of a war zone - a "buffer zone" as Efrat calls it - well within range of Hezbollah rockets being fired from southern Lebanon.

"What we fear most is that nothing will be done because Hezbollah are just waiting there on the border to come in and invade Israel," says the mother-of-three. "I cannot sleep in peace. I want my government to make sure that we have real security here. If it is necessary, they should act and destroy Hezbollah infrastructure in Lebanon."

Map showing Israel and Lebanon, including locations of Khirbet Selim and Kiryat Shmona

Ever since violence here erupted on 8 October, when Hezbollah fired rockets and artillery "in solidarity" with the Palestinians, and Israel fired back, clashes in the north are generally confined to a three- or four-mile-wide (5-6km) strip along the entire border.

But they are intense and deadly - nine soldiers and four civilians have been killed in Israel, officials say, while authorities in Lebanon have reported that 123 people have been killed, including at least 21 civilians.

The frontier communities of northern Israel are today like ghost towns. More than 80,000 residents have been evacuated to centres further south, but Nissan Zeevi is one of the few who has stayed. The businessman, and civil defence member, shows me around his kibbutz - Kfar Giladi, just north of Kiryat Shmona. The scenery is beguiling as you look out over the lush, green Hula valley and Mount Hermon in the distance, but this border has always been volatile.

Nissan Zeevi in northern Israel, near the border with Lebanon

Like Efrat, Nissan does not believe most people can return to their homes and businesses until there is a guarantee of a lasting peace. He is particularly frustrated that UN Security Council resolution 1701, which helped end the 2006 Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah has not been fully implemented.

Crucially, says Nissan, 1701 calls for the demilitarisation of armed groups (specifically Hezbollah) in southern Lebanon. And that, clearly, has not been achieved.

Nissan is part of Lobby 1701, which has called for the implementation of the resolution "whether through diplomatic means or through a military action by Israel".

"What we are demanding from our government is to take care of Hezbollah, to demolish the threat coming from those areas of southern Lebanon," he tells me, as he points out the many Lebanese villages he can see from his own home and from where, he says, much of the incoming fire emanates.

When I ask him if he would support even more action by the Israeli government in southern Lebanon, Nissan says: "Absolutely! It's not only me. A big proportion of the population of Israel is demanding the same." "If we don't do this, we will end up with another 7 October," he adds.

An Israeli soldier stands in front of a self-propelled artillery howitzer in northern Israel as it fires a shell towards southern Lebanon (4 January 2024)

Last month, I travelled to those very same frontier villages in southern Lebanon. They're being hit daily by strikes because Israel says Hezbollah is hiding in communities to launch rockets and sophisticated weapons. Just as on the Israeli side, tens of thousands of people have left these areas too, and many have been killed. There's loss on both sides of the border.

The possibility that this "contained" border conflict will escalate into a full-scale war came even closer on Monday with the apparent assassination of a senior Hezbollah commander, Wissam Tawil, when his car was hit in an air strike in Khirbet Selim. Last week, it is widely believed that Israel was also responsible for a drone strike in a Hezbollah stronghold in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, that killed Hamas's deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri.

None of this is good news for those trying to make a living near the front line.

Farmer Ofer "Poshko" Moskovitz of Kibbutz Misgav Am can't bring in the kibbutz's valuable avocado crop because the Israeli army says it's too dangerous for him to spend time in his orchards, which are right up against the Lebanese border, north-west of Kiryat Shmona.

Ofer "Poshko" Moskovitz holds avocados at Kibbutz Misgav Am, in northern Israel

But, unlike many I spoke to in the north, this phlegmatic and jovial farmer does think a wider war can be averted.

"I'm not worried, because Israel is a strong country," says Ofer as we wade our way through hundreds upon hundreds of almost ripe, green avocados strewn across the ground. He continues: "Nobody is looking for war here. We prefer to do it in a diplomatic way and they are looking for a solution - both the army and diplomatic efforts together."

Ofer's cautious positivity is in short supply in these parts.

Sarit Zahavi, who also lives close to the border, is the founder of the Alma Research Institute in northern Israel and spends much of her time analysing political developments among Israel's regional neighbours.

"We are facing a very dangerous situation, in the sense that if there is to be a diplomatic arrangement, it would mean a ceasefire. And everybody will think that is good news," she tells me.

"But, for me, if there will be a ceasefire, nobody will enforce the arrangement. Then Hezbollah will continue to grow, and will continue to develop its capabilities to invade Israel."

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters via video link in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon (3 January 2024)

Fewer people, at least in northern Israel, seem to be confident that diplomacy can now avert a wider war. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has already vowed to retaliate for Israel's actions and, Israel too, seems to be preparing for the possibility of an escalation.

On Monday, Israel carried out some of the heaviest bombing so far along its northern border just as the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv.

With the devastating war in Gaza and the latest developments in the north, the challenge for Secretary Blinken seems almost impossible.

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More on this story.

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  • Published 3 January

Lebanese emergency responders gather at the site of a strike, reported by Lebanese media to be an Israeli strike targeting a Hamas office, in the southern suburb of Beirut on January 2, 2024.

Israel warns Hezbollah and Lebanon over border fighting

  • Published 28 December 2023

This picture taken from a position along the border in northern Israel on December 26, 2023 shows smoke billowing in the southern Lebanese village of Marwahin following Israeli bombardment amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip

The Irish troops watching Israel’s hidden conflict

  • Published 27 November 2023

Captain Tony Smith sits in a vehicle

17 Scary Sayings for 'Ghost' From Across the United States

This spooky season, be able to tell your bugaboos from your tommyknockers.

By Angela Tung | Oct 3, 2018 | Updated: Oct 24, 2023, 9:44 AM EDT

was sind ghost words

On Halloween , the spirits of the dead are supposed to walk the earth with the living. Whether or not you believe that, or in ghosts in general, you might want to know what you’re getting into if you hear a South Carolina native mention a plat-eye or a Maine resident warn you about swogons . Familiarize yourself with these spooky regional slang terms for the spectral from the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE).

Referring to a ghost, demon, or spirit, skookum is chiefly a Northwest term and comes from a language of the Chinook Native American peoples of the Pacific Northwest. In the Northwest and Alaska, skookum as an adjective means strong, powerful, or good, while a skookum house is a jail and a skookum chuck is a turbulent channel of water.

2. Tommyknocker

Two old mine entrances in Arizona

More than just a Stephen King novel, tommyknocker has been used in the West since at least the early 20th century to mean a ghost that lives in a mine . It also refers to the knocking noises that said ghost is supposed to make. This ghost sense comes from the English dialect word tommyknocker, meaning a “hammer used to break ore.”

In the South and South Midland states, a haunt or hant is a ghost or spirit. The earliest definitions of haunt weren’t ghostly at all: According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word originated in the 13th century to mean “to practice habitually” or “to frequent a place.” Around 1576, it gained the figurative meaning of memories, cares, feelings, thoughts, etc. that distract one frequently. In 1597, the term wandered into the supernatural. From Richard III : “Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed.” Almost 300 years later, it finally came to refer to a spirit or ghost .

4. And 5. Hot Hant or Hot Steam

You might run into a hot hant or a hot steam in the Lower Mississippi Valley and southern Alabama. In Ben Burman’s 1938 book, Blow for a Landing , hot hants are hot because “they’ve gone to hell.” In To Kill a Mockingbird , a hot steam is described as “somebody who can’t get to heaven, just wallows around on lonesome roads an’ if you walk through him, when you die you’ll be one too.”

This ghostly South and South Midland expression might also refer to an imaginary monster or the devil. In use since at least 1710, the OED says the word might come from the now obscure meaning of bug , an imaginary evil spirit (the insect meaning came later), and might also be influenced by boo . It can also bee seen as boogerboo and bugabo .

a ghost with glowing eyes floating above the ground in a spooky, winter forest at night

Careful if someone from the South or South Midland states tells you that you have a booger—they could mean something more frightening than a piece of snot. The word originated in the 1750s to mean a despicable man, according t o the OED, and came to mean a menacing supernatural creature in the 1820s (and dried nasal mucus in 1891).

In Alabama and Louisiana, you might say “duppy” when referring to a ghost. According to DARE, the word comes from Bube, a Bantu language of West Africa. The OED’s earliest citation in English is from British historian Edward Long’s 1774 book The History of Jamaica (“Those of deceased friends are duppies”), while DARE’s is from a 1919 issue of the Journal of American Folklore : “ … the ghost-story, the tale based on a belief about ‘hants’ or ‘bugies’ or ‘duppies.’”

9. Hide-Behind

This term—which has variants like high-behind and nigh-behind —refers to a ghost or imaginary creature that always hides behind some object. Henry Tryon’s 1939 book Fearsome Critters describes the hide-behind as a 6-foot-tall “highly dangerous animal” with “grizzly-like claws.” Conveniently enough, it’s “never known to attack an inebriate.” According to Vance Randolph’s 1951 We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales from the Ozarks , the monster is “a lizard as big as a bull” that “lies in wait for human beings on the trails at night.”

10. Catawampus

A word for an imaginary monster or hobgoblin in the South and South Midland states, catawampus also means “fierce, unsparing, destructive,” according to the OED, and originated as a humorous formation, the first part of which might have been influenced by catamount , a puma or cougar.

A spooky ghost of a woman in a dress, back to camera, framed by the archway of an old building

This Maine term for a spirit might come from Swamp Swogon as quoted in Holman Day’s Up in Maine : “For even in these days P.I.’s shake / At the great Swamp Swogon of Brassua Lake./ When it blitters and glabbers the long night through,/ And shrieks for the souls of the shivering crew.” Another Maine word, swogun (also spelled swagin, swagan , and other variations) refers to bean soup.

In Hawaii, an akua is a god, spirit, or supernatural being. The OED has atua , which it says is a Polynesian word with the same meaning.

13. Stepney

This expression is used among Gullah speakers on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. It could mean hunger or hard times, and may also be personified as a malevolent spirit. Where the word comes from isn’t clear.

14. Plat-Eye

Careful of plat-eyes if you’re roaming around in South Carolina at night. These hobgoblins or malevolent spirits are said to rise out of graves. The phrase platt-eye prowl refers to the time of night they’re said to roam.

15. Go-Devil

Creepy woman standing with her hands out in the darkness

Another South Carolina expression, a go-devil is an evil spirit or someone made up to look like one. The term also refers to various machines and devices in agriculture, forestry, the oil industry, and logging.

16. Hag (or Hag Spirit)

While commonly known as a witch, in the Southeast the term hag or hag spirit might also refer to the evil spirit of a dead person. Said spirit is supposed to cause nightmares by “riding” the luckless dreamer. Hag-ridden , according to the OED , means afflicted by nightmares or oppressed in the mind.

17. Rawhead and Bloodybones

In addition to being an excellent name for a death metal band, rawhead and bloodybones is a South and South Midland expression for a specter or hobgoblin. It’s an old term: DARE’s earliest citation in American English is from 1637, while in British English it’s 1566, according to the OED, whose definitions for both words border on terrifying: rawhead refers to something that is “typically imagined as having a head in the form of a skull, or one whose flesh has been stripped of its skin,” while bloodybones is sometimes described as a bogeyman “said to lurk in ponds waiting to drown children.”

A version of this story ran in 2018; it has been updated for 2023.

Ghost Words

Words related to ghost.

Below is a massive list of ghost words - that is, words related to ghost. The top 4 are: spirit , phantom , dark and soul . You can get the definition(s) of a word in the list below by tapping the question-mark icon next to it. The words at the top of the list are the ones most associated with ghost, and as you go down the relatedness becomes more slight. By default, the words are sorted by relevance/relatedness, but you can also get the most common ghost terms by using the menu below, and there's also the option to sort the words alphabetically so you can get ghost words starting with a particular letter. You can also filter the word list so it only shows words that are also related to another word of your choosing. So for example, you could enter "spirit" and click "filter", and it'd give you words that are related to ghost and spirit.

You can highlight the terms by the frequency with which they occur in the written English language using the menu below. The frequency data is extracted from the English Wikipedia corpus, and updated regularly. If you just care about the words' direct semantic similarity to ghost, then there's probably no need for this.

There are already a bunch of websites on the net that help you find synonyms for various words, but only a handful that help you find related , or even loosely associated words. So although you might see some synonyms of ghost in the list below, many of the words below will have other relationships with ghost - you could see a word with the exact opposite meaning in the word list, for example. So it's the sort of list that would be useful for helping you build a ghost vocabulary list, or just a general ghost word list for whatever purpose, but it's not necessarily going to be useful if you're looking for words that mean the same thing as ghost (though it still might be handy for that).

If you're looking for names related to ghost (e.g. business names, or pet names), this page might help you come up with ideas. The results below obviously aren't all going to be applicable for the actual name of your pet/blog/startup/etc., but hopefully they get your mind working and help you see the links between various concepts. If your pet/blog/etc. has something to do with ghost, then it's obviously a good idea to use concepts or words to do with ghost.

If you don't find what you're looking for in the list below, or if there's some sort of bug and it's not displaying ghost related words, please send me feedback using this page. Thanks for using the site - I hope it is useful to you! 👽

show more

  • supernatural
  • poltergeist
  • ghost story
  • paranormal activity
  • ghostwriter
  • disembodied
  • ghost towns
  • apparitions
  • spiritualism
  • spiritedness
  • spiritualist
  • evil spirit
  • burial custom
  • ancestor worship
  • witch of endor
  • hallucination
  • mysteriously
  • deuteronomy
  • ghost festival
  • nightmarish
  • books of samuel
  • saul the king
  • new testament
  • resurrection of jesus
  • twelve apostles
  • walking on water
  • proposition
  • transcendence
  • apparitional
  • anglo-saxon
  • anthropologist
  • doppelgänger
  • spiritually
  • mesopotamia
  • apparitional experience
  • doppelganger
  • ritual magic
  • impertinent
  • ghost train
  • old english
  • disembodiment
  • common germanic
  • west germanic languages
  • north germanic languages
  • human death
  • east germanic languages
  • gothic language
  • protagonist
  • germanic paganism
  • germanic mercury
  • conductor of the dead
  • errand ghost
  • middle english
  • vital principle
  • dutch language
  • american english
  • classical mythology
  • greek underworld
  • scots language
  • j. r. r. tolkien
  • haunt house
  • abolitionism
  • folk religion
  • vengeful spirit
  • all souls' day
  • hallucinations
  • james frazer
  • the golden bough
  • credibility
  • gothic horror
  • horror fiction
  • greek language
  • geomagnetic
  • vengeful ghost
  • flying dutchman
  • the rime of the ancient mariner
  • incarnation
  • ghosts in mesopotamian religions
  • disincarnate
  • pandemonism
  • abrahamic religion
  • thunderbird
  • hebrew bible
  • incorporeal
  • necromancer
  • premonitions
  • presentiment
  • shapeshifter
  • gravedigger
  • ghosts in ancient egyptian culture
  • egyptian soul
  • classical greece
  • ancient rome
  • pliny the younger
  • grim reaper
  • demonic possession
  • netherworld
  • freddy krueger
  • cultural universal
  • mad scientist
  • robinson crusoe
  • book of the dead
  • serial killer
  • clairvoyant
  • gospel of luke
  • anthropology
  • composition

That's about all the ghost related words we've got! I hope this list of ghost terms was useful to you in some way or another. The words down here at the bottom of the list will be in some way associated with ghost, but perhaps tenuously (if you've currenly got it sorted by relevance, that is). If you have any feedback for the site, please share it here , but please note this is only a hobby project, so I may not be able to make regular updates to the site. Have a nice day! 🕊

Why are 'ghost,' 'ghastly,' and ' ghoul' spelled with 'gh'?

It's a really strange way for an English word to start

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Three ghosts

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"Gh" is a strange way for an English word to start. There are only a handful of commonly used words that begin with this spelling. Beyond the spirit cluster of ghost, ghastly and ghoul, we have borrowed words like ghetto, gherkin, and ghee, some place names like Ghana and Ghent, and that's about it.

"Ghoul" was borrowed into English in the 1700s from the Arabic ghul , but at first without the "h," as "goul" or "goule." It was later lured over to the "gh" group by its semantic similarity to "ghost."

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But how did ghost get its "gh"? Compared to the other "gh" words, ghost is both a lot more common and a lot older, going all the way back to Old English gást . Until the 1500s, over a few centuries of language change, it was spelled gast, gæst, gost, goste, goost, and goist. "Ghastly," from the related, Middle English gastliche , also came in "h"-free spellings until the 1500s.

We can trace the introduction of the "h" in ghost and ghastly back to William Caxton, the man who brought the printing press to England. He had established his first press in Bruges, and he brought some Flemish typesetters back with him when he returned to set up business in Westminster. David Crystal writes, in his history of English spelling , that "in Bruges they would have been used to reading manuscripts in Flemish spelling. So if a word reminded them of its Flemish counterpart, why not spell it that way? The boss wouldn't mind, as long as the words were intelligible. He had more to worry about than spelling."

The typesetters also used "gh" in their spellings of goose, goat, and girl, but those spellings never caught on. For some reason, only ghost and ghastly kept the "h." Maybe because the words looked spookier that way. Indeed, a story about the ghost of a "ghoos ghoot gherle" sounds downright terrifying. Thank ghoodness those spellings have ghone.

was sind ghost words

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Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss . She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages , a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon. Follow her on Twitter .

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Ghosts Vocabulary Word List (83)


  1. LIST: Words associated with ghost #vocabulary #happyhalloween #

    was sind ghost words

  2. What Are Ghost Words?

    was sind ghost words

  3. How a Ghost Word Appeared in the Dictionary (Video)

    was sind ghost words

  4. Ghost Words That Are Haunting The Dictionary

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  5. Ghost Words?!You can learn about them on my Youtube channel:https

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  6. Ghost Words

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  1. Ghost III

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  6. Wise Words Frm DJ ghost #facts #shorts #reels #youtubeshorts


  1. Mysterious Ghost Words And How They Ended Up In The Dictionary

    Meriam-Webster calls such words ghost words, "a word form never in established usage." The Cambridge Dictionary concurs, with slightly different wording, and offers an explanation for how such ghost terms came to be. The answer isn't spirits of words from other languages come back to haunt their English killers.

  2. Ghost word

    A ghost word is a word published in a dictionary or similarly authoritative reference work even though it had not previously had any meaning or been used intentionally.

  3. What Are Ghost Words?

    The Oxford Dictionary defines ghost word as "a word recorded in a dictionary or other reference work which is not actually used." Merriam-Webster says a ghost word is "a word form never in established usage." The term was coined by Professor Walter William Skeat in 1886, well before dord came into existence.

  4. 9 Fake Words That Ended Up in the Dictionary

    Not surprising with its similarity to the word mumble. While this linguistic bogey was discovered to be a "scribal error" of the plural of ne-moubliemie, French for the forget-me-not flower ...

  5. What Is a Ghost Word? (with pictures)

    Fact Checked What Is a Ghost Word? Alan Rankin Last Modified Date: September 26, 2023 A ghost word is a word that is invented, often mistakenly, but still becomes a part of the language. One of the most famous ghost words is "dord," accidentally created by dictionary editors in the 1930s.

  6. Ghost Words

    Syllabus. In the 15th century, a misprint gave us another ghost word: "syllabus.". The Roman philosopher Cicero died in 43 BC, but his work has been read ever since. Two of his "Letters to Atticus" ( one , two) have the word "sittybas" (or possibly "sittubas"—sources disagree). Either way, it was a Greek word meaning "a ...

  7. What Are Ghost Words? 2024

    4. The use of ghost words is a form of cultural appropriation. Many ghost words, such as "literally" and "ironic", have been misused to the point where their original meanings have been lost. This is a form of cultural appropriation that erases the history and significance of these words. 5. The overuse of ghost words is a form of linguistic ...

  8. Ghost words Definition & Meaning

    The meaning of GHOST WORD is a word form never in established usage.


    noun [ C ] publishing specialized uk / ˈɡəʊst ˌwɜːd / us / ˈɡoʊst ˌwɝːd / Add to word list a word in a dictionary or another list of words that is not a real word and is usually there because of a mistake: "Abacot" is a ghost word that arose through a series of misreadings. Fewer examples There are scores of ghost words in dictionaries.

  10. Ghost

    In folklore, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or non-human animal that is believed to be able to appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely, from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes to realistic, lifelike forms.The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a ...

  11. Mysterious Ghost Words That Only Exist in Dictionaries

    Simply put, ghost words are fake words that end up in the dictionary. This is the primary definition of a ghost word, courtesy of YourDictionary: "A word that has come into a dictionary, grammar, or other scholarly work as a result of a misreading or misinterpretation, as by mistaking a typographical error for an actual word."

  12. Ghost Words: 5 Fake Words Once Haunting Our Dictionaries

    What are Ghost Words? Professor Walter W. Skeat, a well-respected lexicographer, was the first to coin the phrase. As delivered in his Philological Society presidential address in 1886 ( start at page 350 ), Skeat states that ghost words are "words which have no real existence."

  13. ghost

    Ghost-word "apparent word or false form in a manuscript due to a blunder" is from 1886 (Skeat). Ghost in the machine was British philosopher Gilbert Ryle's term (1949) for "the mind viewed as separate from the body." The American Indian ghost dance is from 1890. To give up the ghost "die" was in Old English. ghost (v.)

  14. 9 Fun Words for Ghosts and Goblins

    Poltergeist : a noisy usually mischievous ghost held to be responsible for unexplained noises (such as rappings) Ghosts throughout the centuries have not only assumed various human and non-human forms, but have had different temperaments, quirks, pet peeves and pet pleasures.

  15. Ghost Words That Are Haunting The Dictionary

    No, a ghost word is a word that "has come into existence by error rather than by normal linguistic transmission, as through the mistaken reading of a manuscript, a scribal error, or a misprint." And, we've collected our favorite ghost words that scare us daily … WATCH: What Scares A Dictionary? Ghost Words!

  16. ghost, n. & adj. meanings, etymology and more

    In noun phrases. P.2.a. ghost of life (also life's ghost ): the animating or vital principle in humans and animals; that which gives life to the body, in contrast to its purely material being; the life force, the breath of life; = sense A.I.1. rare. With use in quot. 2001 cf. to give up the ghost.

  17. was sind ghost words

    Mysterious Ghost Words And How They Ended Up In The Dictionary. Antiquated words are one thing. Take "thee," "thou," "thy," and "thine," for example: you'll almost never see anyon

  18. Justin Bieber

    "Ghost - Justin Bieber (Lyrics)Lyrics / Lyric Video brought to you by I love you 💕💕💕🔔 So right, you make everything feel so nice.🔔 Click the bell to sta...

  19. Why are "Ghost," "Ghastly," and "Ghoul" Spelled with "gh"?

    Compared to the other "gh" words, "ghost" is both a lot more frequent and a lot older, going all the way back to Old English gást. Until the 1500s, over a few centuries of language change, it ...

  20. 'I cannot sleep in peace'

    The frontier communities of northern Israel are today like ghost towns. More than 80,000 residents have been evacuated to centres further south, but Nissan Zeevi is one of the few who has stayed.

  21. 17 Regional Slang Terms for 'Ghost'

    1. Skookum. Referring to a ghost, demon, or spirit, skookum is chiefly a Northwest term and comes from a language of the Chinook Native American peoples of the Pacific Northwest. In the Northwest ...

  22. Ghost Words

    Below is a massive list of ghost words - that is, words related to ghost. The top 4 are: spirit, phantom, dark and soul. You can get the definition (s) of a word in the list below by tapping the question-mark icon next to it.

  23. Esker Ongaku

    Ghost Pills Lyrics: Estoy vacío por dentro / Este silencio me quema / Me miro desde lejos / Un fantasma hay ahí fuera / Está esperando paciente / El día en que yo me muera / Un sonido ...

  24. Why are 'ghost,' 'ghastly,' and ' ghoul' spelled with 'gh'?

    Compared to the other "gh" words, ghost is both a lot more common and a lot older, going all the way back to Old English gást. Until the 1500s, over a few centuries of language change, it was ...

  25. Ghost of Jupiter

    I would play the guitar. And he would just lay dead. [Bridge] Maybe it was shallow. Maybe it was cruel. To keep someone so far gone. Maybe I was thinking. That my body would grow cold. If he ...

  26. Ghosts vocabulary, Ghosts word list offers more than 700 word lists. To see more Halloween vocabulary word lists, please go to the home page for interactive word games, word puzzles and themed content that align with Common Core Standards. 2500 pages of free content are available only online without registration, ads or fees.