a. A force or principle believed to animate living beings.
b. A force or principle believed to animate humans and often to endure after departing from the body of a person at death; the soul.
2. Spirit The Holy Spirit.
3. A supernatural being, as:
a. An angel or demon.
b. A being inhabiting or embodying a particular place, object, or natural phenomenon.
c. A fairy or sprite.
a. The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings: Though unable to join us today, they are with us in spirit.
b. The essential nature of a person or group.
5. A person as characterized by a stated quality: He is a proud spirit.
a. An inclination or tendency of a specified kind: Her actions show a generous spirit.
b. A pervasive or essential attitude, quality, or principle: the spirit of 1776.
a. An attitude marked by enthusiasm, energy, or courage: sang with spirit; troops that fought with spirit.
b. spirits A mood or emotional state: The guests were in high spirits. His sour spirits put a damper on the gathering.
c. Strong loyalty or dedication: team spirit.
8. The actual though unstated sense or significance of something: the spirit of the law.
9. often spirits (used with a sing. verb) An alcohol solution of an essential or volatile substance.
10. spirits An alcoholic beverage, especially distilled liquor.
tr.v. spir·it·ed, spir·it·ing, spir·its
1. To carry off mysteriously or secretly: The documents had been spirited away.
2. To impart courage, animation, or determination to; inspirit.
[Middle English, from Old French espirit, from Latin spīritus, breath, from spīrāre, to breathe.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.