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From Middle English gostly, gastlich, from Old English gāstlīċ (spiritual, holy, clerical (not lay), ghastly, ghostly, spectral), equivalent to ghost +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots gostly, gastly, gaistlie (spiritual, ghastly, terrifying), West Frisian geastlik (spiritual, clerical, religious), Dutch geestelijk (spiritual, clerical, ecclesiastical), German geistlich (spiritual, sacred, religious), Danish geistlig (ecclesiastical, clerical).



ghostly (comparative ghostlier, superlative ghostliest)

  1. Of or pertaining to ghosts or spirits.
    a ghostly figure with a hood
    The graveyard was haunted by a ghostly figure of a young girl.
    The ghostly moaning was heard from upstairs.
  2. Spooky; frightening.
    • A ghostly hush fell.
  3. Relating to the soul; not carnal or secular; spiritual.
    a ghostly confessor
    • Book of Common Prayer
      Save and defend us from our ghostly enemies.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      one of the ghostly children of St. Jerome



See also[edit]