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”).
- 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.
- Spooky; frightening.
- A ghostly hush fell.
- 1929, Robert Dean Frisbee, The Book of Puka-Puka (republished by Eland, 2019; p. 35):
- Scores of coconut-shell fires blazed with their characteristic glaring white flame, throwing grotesque shadows on the brown thatched huts, dancing in fairylike shimmerings among the domes of coconut fronds, casting ghostly reaches of light through the adjacent graveyards, and silhouetting the forms of pareu-clad natives at work cleaning their fish or laying them on the live coals to broil.
- 2019, Dave Eggers, The Parade, Vintage Books N.Y., p. 134
- His lips were chapped and lined with a ghostly purple fringe.
- Relating to the soul; not carnal or secular; spiritual.
- a ghostly confessor
- 1549 March 7, Thomas Cranmer [et al.], compilers, The Booke of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacramentes, […], London: […] Edowardi Whitchurche […], OCLC 56485293:
- Save and defend us from our ghostly enemies.
- 1650, Jeremy Taylor, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living
- one of the ghostly children of St. Jerome
- See also Thesaurus:ghostly