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ghost: see apparition; poltergeist.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A ghost is an apparition or vision of a spirit of the dead; “apparition” is the term preferred by parapsychologists. Ghosts are found in the folklore, art, and literature of all nations. Throughout England, there are haunted sites galore where numerous witnesses have seen a ghost or ghosts … single individuals to whole armies from the past. Houses, castles, gardens, woods, and crossroads are sites for these hauntings. Frederick W. H. Myers, founder of the Society for Psychical Research, defined a ghost as, “A manifestation of persistent personal energy, or as an indication that some kind of force is being exercised after death which is in some way connected with a person previously known on earth.”

It is not always the ghost of a deceased person which is witnessed. There are records of ghosts of animals and even of inanimate objects such as coaches, trains, and airplanes. It is said that a belief in ghosts grows out of the universal human need for some assurance of survival of death. Ancestor worship is one form of religious awareness that ties in with a belief in ghosts. In some areas, these ancestral ghosts take on the power of minor gods and it is felt that unless steps are taken to propitiate them, they can be harmful to the living. Generally speaking, however, ghosts are not able to harm the living. Their appearance may be frightening, especially in its unexpectedness, but there are virtually no records of actual physical hurt coming from an apparition.

Ghosts are seldom, if ever, floating sheeted figures of the cartoon variety. Some early forms were of the dead as they had been buried in their winding sheets, but the majority seem to appear much as they had in life, fully and appropriately clothed. Ghosts are occasionally harbingers of death. It is said that Josephine’s ghost appeared to Napoleon some days before he died, to signal his coming death, and a Black Friar supposedly appeared to members of Lord Byron’s family for the same reason. A phantom drummer—the once-young lover of the Lady Airlie—drums to signal an approaching death in the family of the Ogilvys, Earls of Airlie, Scotland.

Many ghosts seem to haunt particular places because of some tragedy or traumatic event that occurred to them either at death or just prior to it, while others are there because of extreme happiness known in those places. This signals the fact that the ghost is actually a spirit that either is unaware of its own death or is unwilling to admit to it. Many Spiritualist groups form what are called Rescue Circles, designed specifically to contact such spirits and to persuade them to move on, as they need to do.

Many ghosts and apparitions have been photographed. As with much in the general field of parapsychology and Spiritualism, it is easy to fake such photographs. However, there are a very large number of photographs that have been examined and verified by photographic experts. One example is the photograph taken by the vicar of Newby Church in Yorkshire, England, that shows a cowled figure standing to the right of the altar. The “Brown Lady of Raynham Hall” in England has been photographed descending the main staircase. A photograph taken of Isabella Houg of Newark, New Jersey, in 1922, showed an accompanying figure of her long dead uncle when the picture was developed. Mr. and Mrs. Chinnery of Ipswich, England, had been to visit the grave of Mrs. Chinnery’s deceased mother and, as they were preparing to leave, Mrs. Mabel Chinnery—on impulse—turned and took a photograph of her husband sitting in their family car. When the photograph was developed it showed the figure of her deceased mother sitting in the back seat of the car. All of these photographs have been proven not to have been faked. Rarely, however, is the ghost actually seen by the photographer. It is only on development of the picture that the apparition is discovered.

The psychical researcher Harry Price referred to Borley Rectory in Suffolk, as “the most haunted house in England.” For forty years Price investigated ghosts and hauntings. He founded the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, now part of the University of London. He claimed that the large nineteenth century house built by the Reverend Henry Bull in the 1860s was the scene of more ghostly activity than anywhere else. It certainly did have the ghost of a nun, a phantom coach, writing that appeared on walls, poltergeist activity, and more. At séances held by Price at the house, there were rappings, apparitions, and pebbles flying through the air, keys pushed out of locks, and a whole host of similar phenomena. Although the vast majority of reported ghost sightings can be explained away, a small percentage cannot.


Guiley, Rosemary Ellen: The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts On File, 1992
Myers, Frederick W. H.: Human Personality and Its Survival After Bodily Death. London: Longmans, 1903
Price, Harry: The Most Haunted House in England. London: Longmans, Green, 1940
Smyth, Frank: The Supernatural: Ghosts and Poltergeists. London: Aldus, 1975
Steiger, Brad: Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2003 Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Spirits and Spirit Worlds. London: Aldus, 1975
Thurston, Rev. Herbert: Ghosts and Poltergeists. London: Regnery, 1950
Gladstone, William Ewart (1809–1898)
see Eglinton, William
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a ghost?

Ghosts symbolize the essence of what no longer is obtainable (e.g., people sometimes believe they don’t have “a ghost of a chance”).

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
To display a menu option in a dimmed, fuzzy typeface to indicate that this option is no longer available.
In passive detection, one of the intersection points of lines of position which do not represent actual targets but are only crossover points of multiple plotted lines of position from two or more detection stations.
The discernible outline of the shape of a former crystal or of another rock structure that has been partly obliterated and has as its boundaries inclusions, bubbles, or other foreign matter. Also known as phantom.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Any extra blip on radar caused by reflection from obstructions like hills and buildings. Additional blips appear usually to the right of the primary blip at a distance proportional to the reflected and direct path lengths.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


Akakyevich, Akakii
his ghost steals coats off people’s backs. [Russ. Lit.: Gogol The Overcoat]
the murdered prince returns as a ghost to frustrate the usurper and proclaim the true heir. [Br. Lit.: Walpole The Castle of Otranto in Magill I, 124]
Alonzo the Brave
appears as ghost to lover. [Br. Lit.: “Alonzo the Brave” in Walsh Modern, 14]
ghost returns to the Spanish court to learn of the events that followed his death. [Br. Drama: The Spanish Tragedy in Magill II, 990]
Angels of Mons
a spectral army of angels that supposedly came between German and British forces (1914). [Br. and Fr. Hist.: Wallechinsky, 447]
his ghost appears to Macbeth at a banquet, sitting in Macbeth’s own seat. [Br. Drama: Shakespeare Macbeth]
haunter of cemeteries; attendant of Shiva. [Hindu Myth.: Parrinder, 45]
Blithe Spirit
ghost of witty first wife returns to mock her husband and his second wife. [Br. Drama: Noel Coward Blithe Spirit in On Stage, 236]
Caesar’s ghost
warns Brutus that he and Caesar will meet, again at Phillipi. [Br. Lit.: Shakespeare Julius Caesar]
Canterville ghost
after haunting an English house for three centuries, disappeared forever when new American owners refused to take him seriously. [Br. Lit.: Oscar Wilde “The Canterville Ghost”]
meek little ghost who desires only to make friends. [Am. Comics: “Casper the Friendly Ghost” in Horn, 162]
Devil and Daniel Webster, The
Webster defends his client before a jury of the ghosts of American villains. [Am. Lit.: Haydn & Fuller, 382]
Drury Lane Theater Ghost
said to bring great acting success to those who see it. [Br. Folklore: Wallechinsky, 446]
Epworth Poltergeist
supposedly invaded the house of Rev. Samuel Wesley. [Am. Folklore: Wallechinsky, 446]
Flying Dutchman
ghost ship off Cape of Good Hope; sighting it forbodes disaster. [Folklore: Brewer Note-Book, 335]
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The
New England cottage haunted by the spirit of its 19th-century owner. [Am. TV: Terrace]
Ghost Goes West, The
merry Scottish ghost follows his castle when it is moved to America. [Am. Cinema: Halliwell]
Ghost of Charles Rosmer
the itinerant peddler returns to the property where he was murdered. [Folklore: Wallechinsky, 446]
Ghost of Christmas Past
the Scrooge’s first monitor; spirit presenting past. [Br. Lit.: A Christmas Carol]
Ghost of Christmas Present
the Scrooge’s second monitor; spirit presenting present. [Br. Lit.: A Christmas Carol]
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the
Scrooge’s third monitor; spirit presenting future. [Br. Lit.: A Christmas Carol]
Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
the appears to the prince, states he was murdered by Claudius and demands revenge. [Br. Lit.: Hamlet]
Ghost’s Walk, the
spirit and step of Lady Morbury Dedlock. [Br. Lit.: Bleak House]
Glas, Bodach
ghostly bearer of evil tidings. [Br. Lit.: Waverley]
Headless Horseman, the
phantom who scares Ichabod Crane out of his wits. [Am. Lit.: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories]
formless spirit of learning. [Ger. Lit.: Faust]
Kirby, George and Marian
ghosts who occupy Topper’s house. [TV: “Topper” in Terrace II, 381]
months after her own death and the narrator’s remarriage, she materializes upon the death of his second wife. [Am. Lit.: Poe Ligeia]
the friendly ghost who helps Ebenezer Scrooge become more benevolent. [Br. Lit.: A Christmas Carol]
Mauthe Doog
ghostly black spaniel that haunted Peel Castle. [Br. Folklore: Benét, 649]
Morland, Catherine
terrified by imagined ghosts at the medieval abbey where she is a guest. [Br. Lit.: Northanger Abbey in Benét, 720]
Nighe, Bean
ghost of a woman who died in childbirth. [Scot. Folklore: Briggs, 15–16]
Phantom of the Opera, The
deformed man haunts opera house for vengeance. [Am. Cinema: Halliwell, 562]
Phantom, The
mysterious, ghostlike foe of injustice in a mythical African-Asian country. [Am. Comics: Horn, 551]
Quint, Peter and Miss Jessel
former lovers return to haunt house. [Am. Lit.: The Turn of the Screw]
Richard III
visited by the ghosts of all his victims. [Br. Lit.: Shakespeare Richard III]
the ghosts of his ancestors confront the current baronet and change his life. [Br. Opera: Gilbert and Sullivan Ruddigore]
his spirit appears to Saul through the witch of Endor. [O.T.: I Samuel 28:24]
Short Hoggers of Whittinghame
ghost of baby murdered by his mother cannot rest because he is “nameless.” [Br. Folklore: Briggs, 363–364]
house he purchases is haunted by the young couple who owned it previously and their dog. [Am. Lit., Cin., TV: Topper in Halliwell, 718]
Vermilion Phantom
ghost rumored to have appeared at various times in French history, such as before deaths of Henry IV and Napoleon. [Fr. History: Wallechinsky, 445]
White House Ghost
several people supposedly saw Abraham Lincoln’s ghost there. [Am. Folklore: Wallechinsky, 447]
White Lady
ghost seen in different castles and palaces belonging to Prussia’s royal family. [Prussian Folklore: Brewer Hand-book, 1207]
White Lady
of Avenel “a tutelary spirit.” [Br. Lit.: The Monastery, Brewer Handbook, 1208]
White Lady
of Ireland the domestic spirit of a family; intimates approaching death with shrieks [Irish Folklore: Brewer Handbook, 1208]
Wild Huntsman
spectral hunter with dogs who frequents the Black Forest. [Ger. Folklore: Brewer Handbook, 1207]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a. a faint secondary image produced by an optical system
b. a similar image on a television screen, formed by reflection of the transmitting waves or by a defect in the receiver
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(Or "zombie") The image of a user's session on IRC and similar systems, left when the session has been terminated (properly or, often, improperly) but the server (or the network at large) believes the connection is still active and belongs to a real user.

Compare clonebot.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) See ghosted.

(2) A faint second image that appears close to the primary image on a CRT. A CRT ghost is an electronics synchronization problem.

(3) A faint second image that appears close to the primary image on a printout from a mechanical printer. It is caused by bouncing print elements as the paper passes by.

(4) A double image appearing in 3D shutter glasses due to synchronization issues. See 3D sync.

(5) To make an exact copy of an operating system or the contents of a hard disk for backup or for migrating to another computer. Aptly named, Norton Ghost is a popular utility that duplicates the contents of a hard drive. The program can also be used to copy failing disks, taking hours to complete the operation, because it has to re-read marginal sectors over and over. See ghosting server and cloning software.

(6) A secondary signal in a communications transmission that arrives ahead of or later than the primary signal.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.


Some believe that the ghosts in their dreams are real representations of the dead. This is an unlikely explanation of this dream. More likely the ghost is representing a part of you that is unclear and that you do not understand. At times, ghosts represent those things that unattainable or fleeting. Demonic types of ghost images may represent your negative tendencies, unpleasant parts of your personality, or your “shadow.” Old superstition-based dream interpretations say that dreaming of friendly ghosts is a lucky omen, and that you should be receiving unexpected good luck. On the other hand, if you were very frightened by the ghost in your dream, then others will try to impose their will on you and you must be vigilant in order to stand up to it.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
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