7 Words and Phrases That Use the Word Ghost but Have Nothing to Do with Paranormal

posted: 11/21/16
by: Sasha Brown-Worsham

We all know what a ghost is. The soul or spirit of a deceased animal or person that continues to "haunt" or appear or otherwise pester the living. They have appeared in scary movies and our nightmares for decades and haunted us with fear long before that in everything from Dickens classics to ancient castles. We are no strangers to ghosts in our culture.

But not every ghost is scary. Think Ghost the movie with Patrick Swayze where the ghost is romantic. Or Ghostbusters, the hilarious trilogy in which ghosts are played for laughs. There is Casper the friendly ghost and the recently deceased ghosts played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis in Beetlejuice who are the good guys while the human is the bad guy.

So popular are ghosts in our pop culture and storytelling that they've now been built into our lexicon with many not-so-scary terms. Here are some of them:

1. Ghost Writer

Photo: Thinkstock

Want someone to write for you, but lack the skill yourself? Get someone to ghost write it. Though the writer doesn't share a byline, they do get a portion of the proceeds. Many famous books were written, not by the person listed on the cover, but by the strange entity you feel, but never see. It was a ghost!

2. Ghosting

Photo: Thinkstock

Ever gone on a great first date and then had the person never talk to you again? Worse, have you ever dated someone for a while and then suddenly had them stop returning your calls and text messages? You got ghosted. It's a pretty obnoxious way to end a friendship or relationship and it has become so common, it has a name. Boo on many levels.

3. Ghost Town

Photo: Thinkstock

The remnants of a town that are still left long after the people have abandoned it or left it behind are usually called a "ghost town." They are all over the world and draw adventure seekers and explorers. For good reason. They are both spooky and lovely.

4. Pale As a Ghost

Ever been on the beach and felt like you are so white the sun is reflecting off your skin? Yes? Then you were "pale as a ghost." It's a thing and it's annoying. It can also be a color scheme in a house.

5. Give up the Ghost

If you've ever been stuck on something you can't quite shake? A goal or some kind of issue you keep repeating again and again? This is what they will tell you. Stop chasing that ephemeral impossibility. Give up the ghost already. Let it go, dude.

6. Ghost of a Smile

Photo: Thinkstock

Somewhere in between a relaxed face and a grin is this. It's not a smile, but the smile is there. Something in the eyes and the slight turn of the mouth suggest it, but it's far from fully present.

7. Ghost Cell

Photo: Thinkstock

No, this is not a ghost talking on the phone. These freaky little things can be found in our bodies and bloodstream. They have eosinophilic cytoplasm but they lack a nucleus. They may be the remnants of a dead cell. In other words, they are a shell of their former selves. Science! Creepy!

More from Sasha Brown-Worsham