Definition of ghastly in English:


Syllabification: ghast·ly
Pronunciation: /ˈgastlē

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.
    terrible, horrible, grim, awful, dire; frightening, terrifying, horrifying, alarming; distressing, shocking, appalling, harrowing; dreadful, frightful, horrendous, monstrous, gruesome, grisly
    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.



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.


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.

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