give up the ghost

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Literally, to release one's spirit or soul from the body at death. From Middle English "gaf up þe gost", "ʒave up þe gost", from Old English phrases as "hēo āġeaf hire gāst" (literally, "she gave up her ghost [spirit]"), "þæt iċ gāst mīnne āġifan mōte" (literally, "that I must give up my ghost [spirit]"). Compare German den Geist aufgeben and Dutch de geest geven.

Perhaps most notable and survived in modern English for being used in traditional translation during the death of Jesus during His crucifixion:
The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], 1611, →OCLC, Matthew 27:50:¶ Iesus, when hee had cried againe with a loud voice, yeelded vp the ghost.


  • (file)


give up the ghost (third-person singular simple present gives up the ghost, present participle giving up the ghost, simple past gave up the ghost, past participle given up the ghost)

  1. (intransitive, idiomatic) To cease clinging to life; to die.
    Synonyms: yield up the ghost, yield the ghost; see also Thesaurus:die
  2. (intransitive, idiomatic, figuratively) To quit; to cease functioning.
    My old computer finally gave up the ghost the other day.
  3. (intransitive, with of) To cede a commitment to or identification with.
    • 1993 February 8, “A Magical History Tour”, in Time:
      But McCartney, 50, is hardly ready to give up the ghost of his creative past.
    • 1995, Bad Boys:
      Burnett holds the door while Lowrey holds Francine. She's broken, crying, and giving up the ghost of her past.
    • 2000 January 14, Kevin Maney, “Gates closes an era Microsoft prepares to lay out a road map”, in USA Today:
      Its Windows CE, ostensibly for consumer electronics, is flailing, largely because Microsoft has taken a PC mentality to develop CE, unable to give up the ghost of its heritage.


See also[edit]