Definition of ghastly in English:


Line breaks: ghastly
Pronunciation: /ɡɑːs(t)li

adjective (ghastlier, ghastliest)

1Causing great horror or fear: one of the most ghastly crimes ever committed
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.
distressing, shocking, appalling, harrowing;
serious, severe, grave, very bad, grievous, dreadful, terrible, awful, frightful, dire;
unforgivable, inexcusable, indefensible, reprehensible, disgraceful, shameful
archaic or humorous parlous
2Extremely unwell: she had sobered up but she felt ghastly
ill, unwell, washed out, peaky;
informal rough, lousy, rotten, terrible, awful, horrible, dreadful, crummy
British informal grotty, ropy
Scottish informal wabbit, peely-wally
Australian/New Zealand informal crook
vulgar slang crappy
dated queer, seedy
rare peaked, peakish
2.1Deathly white: a ghastly pallor
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.
3 informal Very objectionable, bad, or unpleasant: the weather was ghastly
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.


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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