adjective, ghast·li·er, ghast·li·est.

  1. shockingly frightful or dreadful; horrible: a ghastly murder.
  2. resembling a ghost, especially in being very pale: a ghastly look to his face.
  3. terrible; very bad: a ghastly error.


  1. Also ghast·li·ly, ghast·i·ly. in a ghastly manner; horribly; terribly.
  2. with a deathlike quality.

adjective -lier or -liest

  1. informal very bad or unpleasant
  2. deathly pale; wan
  3. informal extremely unwell; illthey felt ghastly after the party
  4. terrifying; horrible


  1. unhealthily; sicklyghastly pale
  2. archaic in a horrible or hideous manner

c.1300, gastlich, from gast (adj.), past participle of gasten “to frighten,” from Old English gæstan “to torment, frighten” (see ghost) + -lich “-ly.” Spelling with gh- developed 16c. from confusion with ghost. As an adverb, from 1580s. Related: Ghastliness.

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