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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Each turned his face with a ghastly pang.
  2. c. 1850, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 11, in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, volume (please specify |volume=I, II, III, IV, or V), London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323:
    His face was so ghastly that it could scarcely be recognized.
  3. Horrifyingly shocking.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 6”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      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:
      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.
  4. Extremely bad.
    The play was simply ghastly.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

ghastly (not comparable)

  1. In a ghastly manner.
    • 1921, William Dudley Pelley, The Fog: A Novel, page 196:
      Johnathan's lips moved ghastly before his voice would come. "So I'm crazy, am I? And if I choose to murder you, what would you do?"