soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living

In folklore a ghost, phantom, or spirit, is thought to be the soul of a dead person who tried to scare alive people or they are referred to as the supernatural by others. Scientists say that there is no proof that ghosts are real ,[1][2] but many people believe that they are. There are a lot of stories about ghosts in books and movies. Sometimes the ghost is the spirit of a person who was killed by someone or who was already dead.

Greek philosopher Heathendom and the ghost, by Henry Justice Ford, c.1900
Typical blurry image on a wall. Said to be paranormal, but probably man-made. This one is from Spain, and was done in 1992.

The ghost may stay on Earth because he or she has unfinished problems or is still trying to say goodbye to people who they missed.[source?] Sometimes ghosts are said to live in a particular place, for example an abandoned house or a place that existed hundreds of years ago.

Sometimes the ghosts in these stories exist because of some problem the person had that was not solved before he or she died. The ghost stays on Earth trying to fix the problem. If the problem is fixed, the ghost can leave. Many people say they have seen or heard ghosts. People who try to talk to ghosts as their job are called mediums.

There can be bad ghosts and there can also be good ones. There have never been any ghosts that have actually hurt or killed people, although people tell stories about it.

Many people believe they have seen ghosts. Others believe they have felt ghosts near them. Often the ghost is said to appear as a feeling of cold and a light or a misty cloud, but sometimes people say they have seen ghosts that look more like people. Sometimes ghosts are said to come in human form. Some ghosts might cause fear in the person who sees them, by being seen suddenly. Some ghosts are said to be friendly and help people who have problems. People or animals that can sense ghosts cannot feel them touching them as they are the spirit of a person, or a personified force.

Ghosts are said to form right after people die, or even centuries later. Many people make up stories or urban legends. Many try to prove the existence of these paranormal creatures with special technology such as heat sensors. They also make TV shows dedicated to proving the existence of ghosts. They often investigate cases where a person has seen one or visit a place of sighting.

Stories of ghosts can be found all over the world.[3][4][5] Chinese philosopher Confucius said "Respect ghosts and gods, but keep away from them."[6]

The most feared spirit in Thailand is Phi Tai Hong, the ghost of a person who has died suddenly of a violent death.[7] The Koran discusses spirits known as jinn.[8] In Europe there is the recurring fear of "returning" or revenant deceased who may harm the living. This includes the Scandinavian , the Romanian , the Serbian vampir, the Greek vrykolakas among others.

The Bible


There’s a story in the Second Book of Samuel where Samuel appears to Saul after Samuel is dead.

Modern times

A book about ghosts

In modern days, ghosts have become common features in horror and fantasy stories. Their appearance can take the form of the person they once were or sometimes they are depicted wearing white cloaks over their body and face.

At Halloween, many people dress up as ghosts.



  1. Shane McCorristine Spectres of the Self: Thinking About Ghosts and Ghost-Seeing in England,1750-1920 2010, pp. 44-56
  2. Ken Gelder The horror reader 2000, pp. 43-44
  3. Thorkild Jacobsen (1978). The treasures of darkness: a history of Mesopotamian religion. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-02291-3.
  4. Jaehnig, K.C. (1999-03-11). "Classical ghost stories". Southern Illinois University. Archived from the original on September 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
  5. William Drake Westervelt (1985). Hawaiian Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-Gods. Forgotten Books. ISBN 1-60506-964-7.
  6. "Chinese Ghost Culture". Ministry of Culture, P.R.China. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  7. Spirits
  8. U. A. B. Razia Akter Banu (1992). Islam in Bangladesh, Volume 58. Brill Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-09497-0. Retrieved 12 December 2011. The scholars emphasising the syncretistic nature of Bengal Islam usually refer to some Bengali Muslims' proclivity to believe in spirits like ghosts, female ghosts, and demons. The Koran, however, mentions one kind of spirits called jinn.

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