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.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɡɑːs(t).li/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈɡæs(t).li/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: (UK) -ɑːstli, (US) -æstli
- Like a ghost in appearance; death-like; pale; pallid; dismal.
- 1849–1861, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 11, in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, volumes (please specify |volume=I to V), London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC:
- His face was so ghastly that it could scarcely be recognized.
- 1892, Joaquin Miller, Columbus :
- "My men grow mutinous day by day; / My men grow ghastly wan and weak." / The stout mate thought of home; a spray / Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
- 1961 November 10, Joseph Heller, “The Soldier in White”, in Catch-22 […], New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, →OCLC, page 169:
- They gathered soberly in the farthest recess of the ward and gossiped about him in malicious, offended undertones, rebelling against his presence as a ghastly imposition and resenting him malevolently for the nauseating truth of which he was bright reminder.
- Horrifyingly shocking.
- 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., […], →OCLC:
- 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.
- Extremely bad.
- The play was simply ghastly.
ghastly (not comparable)
- 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?"