From Middle English spirit, from Old French espirit (“spirit”), from Latin spīritus (“breath; spirit”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)peys- (“to blow, breathe”). Compare inspire, respire, transpire, all ultimately from Latin spīrō (“I breathe, blow, respire”). Cognate with Old English fisting (“(silent) breaking of wind”). Displaced native Middle English gast (“spirit”) (from Old English gāst (“breath, soul, spirit”)). More at fist.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈspɪɹɪt/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈspiɹɪt/, /ˈspɪɹɪt/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɪɹɪt
- Hyphenation: spir‧it
spirit (plural spirits)
- The collective souls of man or another entity.
1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
- […] St. Bede's at this period of its history was perhaps the poorest and most miserable parish in the East End of London. Close-packed, crushed by the buttressed height of the railway viaduct, rendered airless by huge walls of factories, it at once banished lively interest from a stranger's mind and left only a dull oppression of the spirit.
- 1967, MacCormack, Woman Times Seven
- […] a triumph of the spirit over the flesh.
- A supernatural being, often but not exclusively without physical form; ghost, fairy, angel.
- A wandering spirit haunts the island.
- John Locke
- Whilst young, preserve his tender mind from all impressions of spirits and goblins in the dark.
2011 October 1, Phil Dawkes, “Sunderland 2-2 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
- The result may not quite give the Wearsiders a sweet ending to what has been a sour week, following allegations of sexual assault and drug possession against defender Titus Bramble, but it does at least demonstrate that their spirit remains strong in the face of adversity.
- School spirit is at an all-time high.
- The manner or style of something.
1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
- No matter how early I came down, I would find him on the veranda, smoking cigarettes, or […] . And at last I began to realize in my harassed soul that all elusion was futile, and to take such holidays as I could get, when he was off with a girl, in a spirit of thankfulness.
- In the spirit of forgiveness, we didn't press charges.
- Alexander Pope
- A perfect judge will read each work of wit / With the same spirit that its author writ.
- (usually in the plural) A volatile liquid, such as alcohol. The plural form spirits is a generic term for distilled alcoholic beverages.
- Energy; ardour.
- "Write it then, quickly," replied Bede; and summoning all his spirits together, like the last blaze of a candle going out, he indited it, and expired.
- One who is vivacious or lively; one who evinces great activity or peculiar characteristics of mind or temper.
- a ruling spirit; a schismatic spirit
- Such spirits as he desired to please, such would I choose for my judges.
- Temper or disposition of mind; mental condition or disposition; intellectual or moral state; often in the plural.
- to be cheerful, or in good spirits; to be down-hearted, or in bad spirits
- God has […] made a spirit of building succeed a spirit of pulling down.
- (obsolete) Air set in motion by breathing; breath; hence, sometimes, life itself.
- For, else he sure had left not one alive, / But all, in his Revenge, of Spirit would deprive.
- The mild air, with season moderate, / Gently attempered, and disposed so well, / That still it breathed forth sweet spirit.
- (obsolete) A rough breathing; an aspirate, such as the letter h; also, a mark denoting aspiration.
- Ben Jonson
- Be it a letter or spirit, we have great use for it.
- Ben Jonson
- Intent; real meaning; opposed to the letter, or formal statement.
- the spirit of an enterprise, or of a document
- (alchemy, obsolete) Any of the four substances: sulphur, sal ammoniac, quicksilver, and arsenic (or, according to some, orpiment).
- the four spirits and the bodies seven
- (dyeing) stannic chloride
- To carry off, especially in haste, secrecy, or mystery.
2009 February 8, Dave Kehr, “Buñuel at His Wildest, in Circulation Again”, in New York Times:
- God does not make an appearance, but the Devil (Ms. Pinal) emphatically does: first in the guise of a schoolgirl who tries to lure Simon down with the sight of her shapely legs; then as a bearded but blatantly female Jesus carrying a lamb; and finally as a stylishly coiffed woman who succeeds in spiriting Simon off, by means of a jet, to a Manhattan discotheque — Buñuel’s persuasive idea of hell.
- I felt as if I had been spirited into some castle of antiquity.
- To animate with vigor; to excite; to encourage; to inspirit; sometimes followed by up.
- Civil dissensions often spirit the ambition of private men.
- Jonathan Swift
- Many officers and private men spirit up and assist those obstinate people to continue in their rebellion.
spirit n (plural spirite)