ghastly

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From a conflation of a derivation of Old English gǣstan (to torment, frighten) with the suffix -lic, and ghostly (which was also spelt "gastlich" in Middle English). Equivalent to ghast/gast + -ly. Spelling with 'gh' developed 16th century due to the conflation.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɡɑːs(t).li/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɡæs(t).li/
  • (file)

Adjective[edit]

ghastly (comparative ghastlier, superlative ghastliest)

  1. Like a ghost in appearance; death-like; pale; pallid; dismal.
  2. Horrifyingly shocking.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail.
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], OCLC 752825175, page 030:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect. And why else was he put away up there out of sight?—and so magnificent a brush as he had too.
  3. Extremely bad.
    The play was simply ghastly.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

ghastly (not comparable)

  1. In a ghastly manner.
    He turned ghastly pale on hearing the news.