Ghost - Encyclopedia

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GHOST (a word common to the W. Teutonic languages;. O.E. gest, Dutch, geest, Ger. Geist), in the sense now prevailing, the spirit of a dead person considered as appearing in some visible or sensible form to the living (see Apparitions; Psychical Research, "Phantasms of the Dead"; Spiritualism). In the earlier and wider sense of spirit in general, or of the principle of life, the word is practically obsolete. The language of the Authorized Version of the Bible, however, has preserved the phrase "to give up the ghost," still sometimes used of dying. The Spirit of God, too, the third person of the Trinity, is still called, not in the technical language of theology only, the Holy Ghost. The adjective "ghostly" is still occasionally used for "spiritual" (cf. the Ger. geistlich) as contrasted with "bodily," especially in such combinations as "ghostly counsel," "ghostly comfort." We may even speak of a "ghostly adviser," though not without a touch of affectation; on the other hand, the phrase.

"ghostly man" for a clergyman (cf. the Ger. Geistlicher) is an archaism the use of which could only be justified by poetic licence, as in Tennyson's Elaine (1094). The word "ghost," from the shadowy and unsubstantial quality attributed to the apparitions of the dead, has come also to be commonly used to emphasize the want of force or substance generally, in such phrases as "not the ghost of a chance," "not the ghost of an idea." It is also applied to those literary and artistic "hacks" who are paid to do work for which others get the credit.

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