Definition of ghastly in English:


Syllabification: ghast·ly
Pronunciation: /ˈɡastlē

adjective (ghastlier, ghastliest)

1Causing great horror or fear; frightful or macabre: she was overcome with horror at the ghastly spectacle
More example sentences
  • But when we looked up, the fires and smoke shifted from ghastly spectacle to specific human horror.
  • But the horror was just too ghastly to verbalize.
  • For others it was a slaughter of the innocents, a ghastly reminder of the horrors and insanity of war.
frightening, terrifying, horrifying, alarming;
distressing, shocking, appalling, harrowing;
informal gut-wrenching
1.1 informal Objectionable; unpleasant: we had to wear ghastly old-fashioned dresses
More example sentences
  • With his ghastly haircut and appalling dress sense, and his strange mannerisms, he is, nevertheless a giant of a man.
  • She is confined to her bed with ghastly old-fashioned furniture and state-supermarket fare.
  • A ghastly terrible obscene waste of human life.
2Extremely unwell: he always felt ghastly first thing in the morning
2.1Deathly white or pallid: a ghastly pallor [as submodifier]: he turned ghastly pale and rushed to the bathroom
More example sentences
  • Her right arm came up, and pushed a hidden button on her forehead, and the helmet disappeared, replaced by a ghastly pale white head with green hair falling down her shoulders.
  • There was no mistaking those ghastly eyes and pale white skin.
  • Her lips were shrivelled and pale, her skin a ghastly white.


Middle English: from obsolete gast 'terrify', from Old English gǣstan, of Germanic origin; related to ghost. The gh spelling is by association with ghost. The sense 'objectionable' dates from the mid 19th century.



More example sentences
  • Behind her the shadow heightens this sense of foreboding, while the overall colour scheme of green and purple further increases the ghastliness of the image.
  • For once that epithet is justified and is more than a convenient journalistic label to ramp up the ghastliness of any given tragedy.
  • It was physically demanding but there was no repeat of the ghastliness of Wednesday.

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