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  • 1. The soul or spirit, as the principle of life; also ghost of life. Obs. exc. in phrase to give up (earlier to give, give away, yield up) the (one's) ghost: to breathe one's last, expire, die.
  • 2. Used as the conventional equivalent for L. spiritus, in contexts where the sense is breath or a blast. Obs.
  • 3. a. The spirit, or immaterial part of man, as distinct from the body or material part; the seat of feeling, thought, and moral action. Also, in New Testament language, the SPIRIT or higher moral nature of man; opposed to flesh. Obs. exc. in nonce-uses.
b. Philos. the ghost in the machine: Gilbert Ryle's name for the mind viewed as separate from the body.
  • 4. A person. Cf. the similar use of SOUL, SPIRIT.
  • 5. a. An incorporeal being; a spirit. local ghost = L. genius loci. Obs.
b. A good spirit, an angel. Obs.
c. An evil spirit. the loath, foul, wicked ghost: the Devil. Obs.
  • 6. Formerly used in the sense of SPIRIT (of God). Now only in HOLY GHOST, the usual designation of the Third Person of the Trinity in liturgical and dogmatic language.
    ‘Thy Ghost’ for ‘Thy Holy Ghost’

For lessons on the related topic of Poltergeist, follow this link.

  • 7. The soul of a deceased person, spoken of as inhabiting the unseen world. In later use only = MANES; sometimes pl. Obs.
  • 8. a. The soul of a deceased person, spoken of as appearing in a visible form, or otherwise manifesting its presence, to the living. (Now the prevailing sense.)
b. Phrases. to lay a ghost: to cause it to cease appearing. to raise a ghost: to cause it to appear. Both also fig. the ghost walks (Theat. slang): there is money in the treasury, the salaries are forthcoming.
c. An apparition; a spectre.
  • 9. A corpse. Obs. (Cf. L. m{amac}nes.)
  • 10. In allusion to the pale, shadowy and unsubstantial appearance attributed to ghosts. a. Applied to a person in a state of extreme emaciation; ‘a shadow of his former self’.
b. A shadowy outline or semblance, an unsubstantial image (of something); hence, a slight trace or vestige, esp. in phrase (not) the ghost of a chance. Cf. SHADOW.
c. An impression of a signature made by folding the paper over while the ink is still wet.
  • 11. Optics, etc. a. A name for Ramsden's eye-piece for the microscope, which is so constructed that the image formed by the objective lies below instead of above the field-glass. Obs.
b. A bright spot or secondary image appearing in the field of a telescope, produced by some defect, temporary or permanent, in one of the lenses of the eye-piece.
c. Photogr. = FLARE, n.1 3.
d. Spectroscopy. A spurious spectral line produced by periodic errors in a diffraction grating.
e. Biol. A cell wall or cell membrane, esp. of a red blood corpuscle, that has lost its protoplasmic contents; also, in extended use, a bacteriophage with an empty ‘head’.
f. Metallurgy. A faint band on the surface of steel due to the segregation of certain of its constituents.
g. Television. A displaced repeated image on a television screen caused by a duplicate signal travelling by a longer path.
h. A spurious signal on a radar screen that does not correspond to a target at the indicated location.
  • 12. Sc. ‘A piece of dead coal, that instead of burning appears in the fire as a white lump’ (Jam.).
  • 13. One who secretly does artistic or literary work for another person, the latter taking the credit.

See also