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spirit, n.

Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈspɪrɪt/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈspɪrᵻt/

α. Middle English spired, Middle English spiriet, Middle English spiriȝt, Middle English spiriȝte, Middle English spirith, Middle English spiryȝt, Middle English spiryt, Middle English spiryth, Middle English spirytt, Middle English spyrete, Middle English spyrid, Middle English spyritte, Middle English spyrut, Middle English spyryȝt, Middle English spyryth, Middle English–1500s spiright, Middle English–1500s spiryte, Middle English–1500s spyryt, Middle English–1500s spyryte, Middle English–1600s spirite, Middle English–1600s spiritt, Middle English–1600s spiritte, Middle English–1600s spyrit, Middle English–1600s spyrite, Middle English– spirit, late Middle English sipirit (transmission error), late Middle English spirititis (plural, transmission error), late Middle English spitys (plural, transmission error), late Middle English spriryte (transmission error), 1500s spyritt, 1500s–1600s spirrit, 1500s–1600s spirrite, 1600s spiret, 1600s spurit, 1600s spyrrytt, 1800s spirut (English regional (Devon)); Scottish pre-1700 spireit, pre-1700 spiret, pre-1700 spirite, pre-1700 spiritt, pre-1700 spiryt, pre-1700 spiryte, pre-1700 spyrit, pre-1700 spyrite, pre-1700 spyryt, pre-1700 spyryte, pre-1700 1700s– spirit, 1700s sp'rit; U.S. regional 1800s speerit.

β. Middle English espirit, Middle English espiryȝt, Middle English espiryt.

γ. late Middle English sperete, late Middle English–1500s sperite, late Middle English–1500s speryt, late Middle English–1500s speryte, late Middle English 1600s (1800s– regional and nonstandard) sperit, 1500s– (regional and nonstandard) sperrit, 1600s sperytte; Scottish pre-1700 sperat, pre-1700 spereit, pre-1700 speriet, pre-1700 sperit, pre-1700 sperite; U.S. regional 1800s speret, 1800s sperret.

δ. late Middle English esperit.

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Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly a borrowing from Latin. Etymons: French espirit, spirit; Latin spīritus.
Etymology: < (i) Anglo-Norman esperite, espirite, espirith, (rare) spirit, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French esperit, espirit (Anglo-Norman and Middle French, French esprit  ) animating or vital principle, wind, breath, air, action of breathing, divine inspiration, consciousness, emotion, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity (all early 12th cent.), intelligence (mid 12th cent.), imaginary being, fairy (mid 12th cent.), incorporeal or immaterial being, soul of a dead person, ghost, demon (all late 12th cent.), angel (13th cent.), mind as opposed to body (late 13th cent. in Anglo-Norman, late 14th cent. in continental French), volatile substance (early 14th cent. or earlier), one or other of four substances so named by medieval alchemists (1354), rarefied substance believed to be carried in the blood (1370), disposition of a person, intention, emotional state (late 14th cent.), deeper meaning of a text (late 14th cent.; rare before 1547),
and its etymon (ii) classical Latin spīritus (u  -stem) action of breathing, respiration, breath, (final) breath, (in grammar) aspiration, air, life, consciousness, soul, vital principle animating the world, divine inspiration, essential quality, nature, disposition, ardent disposition, enthusiasm, vigour, arrogance, pride, wind, breeze, wind in the stomach or bowels, scent, perfume, odour, in post-classical Latin also the Holy Spirit, evil spirit, demon (Vetus Latina), soul of a dead person, ghost, angel, incorporeal or immaterial being, courage, tendency, inclination, emotional part of a person as the seat of hostile or angry feeling (Vulgate), intelligence (5th cent.), (in plural) morale (12th cent. in a British source), one or other of four substances so named by medieval alchemists (13th cent. in British sources), liquid produced by distillation (13th cent. in a British source), (in spiritus vitae  , literally ‘spirit of life’) mercury (15th cent. in a British source) < the stem of spīrāre   to breathe (see spire v.2) + -tus  , suffix forming verbal nouns.
Compare spirt n.1, sprite n., earlier spiritus n.  and also (as a later reborrowing < French) esprit n.
Compare Catalan esperit   (12th cent.), Old Occitan esperit  , Spanish espíritu  , Portuguese espirito  , Italian spirito   (all 13th cent.), and also (all < Latin, and now chiefly in sense 23) German Spiritus   (mid 15th cent., in early use often with Latin inflectional endings; > Danish spiritus   (c1700)), Swedish spiritus   (1642).
Specific forms.
The (rare) β.   and δ. forms   preserve the prosthetic e   of the French etymon, which was lost in the α.   and γ. forms   (the French variant spirit   is rare and only attested in Anglo-Norman). The γ.   and δ. forms   show lowering of i   to e  .
Specific senses.
In early use this word chiefly occurs in theological and philosophical contexts, and largely reflects the range of senses of classical Latin spīritus   in the Vulgate, where it translates ancient Greek πνεῦμα  pneuma n.   and Hebrew rūăḥ   (see ruach n.). The translation of these words by spirit is common to all versions of the Bible from the Wycliffite Bible onwards.
The senses ‘liquid produced by distillation’ and ‘ideas and values held by a group of people collectively’ are first attested later in French than in English (respectively, 1575 and 1656).
 I. An animating or vital principle; the immaterial or sentient element of a person.
 * An animating or vital principle; the soul; incorporeal or immaterial being.

 a. The animating or vital principle in humans and animals; that which gives life to the body, in contrast to its purely material being; the life force, the breath of life.Sometimes with implication of other senses.

a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 203   God made Adam, And his licham of erðe he nam, And blew ðor-in a liues blast,..A spirit ful of wit and sckil.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 92   Þet body of man is..þe vileste þet is, and þe spirit of man is þe zaule, and ys þe nobleste þing an þe heȝeste ssepþe þet may by.
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Eccles. iii. 21   Who kneȝ, if the spirit [L. spiritus] of the sonus of Adam steȝe vp aboue, and if the spirit [L. spiritus] of bestis go doun bynethe?
c1484  (a1475)    J. de Caritate tr. Secreta Secret. (Takamiya) (1977) 137 (MED)   God..rypyth þe frutys of treis, and þe spyrytis alle of lyuyng thyngis be qwekynnyd.
1582   Bible (Rheims) James ii. 26   For euen as the bodie without the spirit is dead: so also faith without workes is dead.
1611   Bible (King James) Eccles. x. 4   The spirit when it is gone foorth returneth not; neither the soule receiued vp, commeth againe.  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost x. 784   Least that pure breath of Life, the Spirit of Man.., cannot together perish With this corporeal Clod.  View more context for this quotation
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. at Person   Thus, a Man, tho' consisting of two very different Things, viz. Body and Spirit, is not two Persons.
1853   W. Thomson Outl. Laws of Thought (ed. 3) 61   When the breath is exhaled the spirit remains immortal.
1996   C. Quigley Corpse i. 10   This direct confrontation with the meat that remains after the spirit is gone.

a1325—1996(Hide quotations)


 b. In expressions indicating or implying that this principle has been diminished or has ceased, causing unconsciousness or death, or that it has recovered, causing consciousness or life to return.In various biblical passages (e.g. the one cited at quot. a1382) used figuratively with reference to profound discouragement, or recovery from this: cf. sense 6.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Judith xiii. 30   Achior..fel in to his face vpon the erthe, and his lif quappide. After forsothe that, the spirit [L. spiritu] taken aȝeen, he is reformed.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Luke xxiii. 46   And he seyinge thes thingis, sente out the spirit [a1425 L.V. ȝaf vp the goost; L. exspiravit], ether diede.
c1400  (?a1300)    Kyng Alisaunder (Laud) (1952) l. 4638 (MED)   ‘Ne may Ich lenger libbe’..And wiþ þat word þe spirit out went.
c1425   tr. J. Arderne Treat. Fistula (Sloane 277) (1910) 38   Neþerlesse þai may..moue almost to þe breþing out of þe spirit.
1510   A. Chertsey tr. Floure Commaundementes of God (de Worde) ii. cxxii. f. cclvv/2   And in thende she deyed so, & before yt she was buryed her spyryte came agayne vnto her body.
1582   C. Carlile Disc. conc. Two Diuine Positions f. 167v   There was an Egiptian..vnto whom Dauids souldiours gaue meat & drinke, & his spirite returned into him againe.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Antony & Cleopatra (1623) iv. xvi. 50   Now my Spirit is going, I can no more.  View more context for this quotation
1690   C. Ness Compl. Hist. & Myst. Old & New Test. I. xv. 405   Then his Spirit return'd to his Heart after a sad Recoil, and he recovers out of his sudden Consternation.
a1827   W. Blake Vala; or, Four Zoas vii, in Writings (1978) II. 350   Now she was pale as Snow... But when her spirit returnd as ruddy as a morning..Sorrow shot thro him from his feet.
1839   H. F. Gould Poems III. 133   She died, as dawned her natal day! Amid the buds and flowers of May Her spirit left the beauteous clay, In death's deep slumber here.
?1850   J. L. Michael John Cumberland xiv. 107   With pain the spirit came back to the flesh, Shaking its feeble house.
1990   Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) 14 Dec. 10 a/2   ‘He said that he had died twice and that his spirit left him and returned,’ said Barrios.

a1382—1990(Hide quotations)


 c. In extended and figurative use. Frequently collocated with life; cf. life and soul at life n. Phrases 10b.In quot. 1720   referring to a person's lifeblood.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) John vi. 64   The wordis that I haue spokun to ȝou, ben spirit [L. spiritus] and lyf.
1556   J. Olde tr. R. Gwalther Antichrist iii. f. 112   You knowlage your selues to be a churche feble & sickly, that hathe no whitte of the spirite of life in it at all.
a1616   W. Shakespeare King John (1623) iv. i. 109   There is no malice in this burning cole, The breath of heauen, hath blowne his spirit out.  View more context for this quotation
1638   F. Junius Painting of Ancients iii. i. 229   Seeing..that nothing marreth the life and spirit of the invented things so much, as to force and strain them to a fore-determined purpose.
1712   J. James tr. A.-J. Dézallier d'Argenville Theory & Pract. Gardening 201   Water-Works are the Life of a Garden; 'tis these..which animate and invigorate it, and, if I may so say, give it new Life and Spirit.
1720   A. Pope tr. Homer Iliad V. xviii. 120   Let me revenge it on proud Hector's Heart, Let his last Spirit smoak upon my Dart.
1812   Methodist Mag. Feb. 128   She lost no opportunity of enjoying the means of grace; and..found them on most occasions, to be spirit and life to her soul.
1924   Jrnl. Eng. & Germanic Philol. 23 371   Language..at that time reposed mightily on a declamation that has died out for us entirely, and that at that time had given it life and spirit.
2006   R. Bishop & M. Berryman Culture Speaks vii. 274   Ideas are given life and spirit through dialogue, debate, and careful consideration.

c1384—2006(Hide quotations)


 a. The immaterial aspect of a person, considered as a separable part of a person (which persists after death); esp. (in Christian context) this considered as a moral agent and in relation to God; a person's soul. Frequently in phrases referring to a person's death. Cf. soul n. 7.Sometimes conceived as an agent capable of acting and experiencing independently of the body, and hence (in early use) denoting the faculty of the imagination.Sometimes regarded as identical in nature with the incorporeal beings defined at sense 10a.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Luke xxiii. 46   Fadir, in to thi hondis I bitake my spirit [L. spiritum].
a1400  (c1303)    R. Mannyng Handlyng Synne (Harl.) l. 1377 (MED)   Hys spyryt was take to see a cas..hys frendys..wende þat he hadde be dede bodely, But sone..Þe body quaked.
?a1425   Mandeville's Trav. (Egerton) (1889) 61   In spirit he was rauischt intill heuen, whare he sawe heuenly priuetez.
c1480  (a1400)    St. Peter 730 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) I. 28   And þis he ȝalde þe spyrit, of god in-to þe halde.
1582   Bible (Rheims) Acts vii. 59   They stoned Steuen..saying: Lord Iesus, receiue my spirit.
1611   Bible (King James) Luke xxiii. 46   Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit .  View more context for this quotation
1701   in J. Dunton Merciful Assizes 100   The will of the Lord be done, into whose Hands I commend my Spirit.
1756   Expeditious Instructor 68/2   Th' immortal Spirit left her Body here; Now blessed with God.
1825   W. Scott Betrothed Concl., in Tales Crusaders II. 338   If you came to announce the doom of this poor frame, may God be gracious to the spirit which must be violently dismissed from it!
1872   J. J. Piatt Western Windows 160   A Mother and a Child, most blesséd sight, My spirit saw—a pure and holy pair.
1920   L. Binyon Secret i. 13   I touched the flesh of my body, and it was strange. It seemed that my spirit knew It was I no more; yet the earth and the sky answered And cried aloud, It is you!
1996   J. Harjo Woman who fell from Sky 6   The woman who was to fall from the sky was the girl with skinned knees whose spirit knew how to climb to the stars.

c1384—1996(Hide quotations)


 b. The disembodied soul of a deceased person, regarded as a separate entity and invested with some degree of personality and form; = soul n. 8. Cf. ghost n. 8a. Also figurative.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Luke xxiv. 37   Thei..gessiden hem to se a spirit [L. spiritum]. And he seide to hem... Feele ȝe, and se ȝe; for a spirit [L. spiritus] hath not fleisch, and boonys.
a1475  (?a1430)    J. Lydgate tr. G. Deguileville Pilgrimage Life Man (Vitell.) l. 11960   To the body a spyryt spak,..The spyryt in the weye stood; The body..hong on a tre.
1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) iv. 757   [The Pithones] Rasit, throu thair mekill mycht Samuell sperit.
1526   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection i. sig. Bviii   Al the holy sayntes that ben saued, and also the damned spirites in hell.
1560   J. Daus tr. J. Sleidane Commentaries f. cxv   There by a signe made, he sheweth that he is the spirite of her.
1611   Bible (King James) Heb. xii. 23   To the generall assembly,..and to the spirits of iust men made perfect.  View more context for this quotation
1645   J. Milton Il Penseroso in Poems 40   Where I may..unsphear The spirit of Plato.
1742   E. Young Complaint: Night the Second 15   The Spirit walks of ev'ry Day deceas'd.
a1771   T. Gray Agrippina in Poems (1775) 128   'Twould dash his joy To hear the spirit of Britannicus Yet walks on earth.
1819   P. B. Shelley Cenci iv. i. 60   Her spirit shall approach the throne of God Plague spotted with my curses.
1840   T. Hood Open Question in New Monthly Mag. Aug. 530   Spirit of Kant! have we not had enough To make Religion sad, and sour, and snubbish.
1931   P. S. Buck Good Earth xxvi. 244   After I am dead that one nor her mistress neither is to come into my room or touch my things, and if they do, I will send my spirit back for a curse.
1994   S. P. Somtow Jasmine Nights (1995) i. 11   You must bring his body..and you and I will have a proper cremation. Otherwise his spirit will wander the earth, unable to be reborn into the cycle of karma.
2013   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 28 Aug. c6/2   As the matriarch who sets her sights on using Vonn as a conduit to her dead lover's spirit, Ms. Lemp does not quite radiate the sinister vampirishness..that she should.

c1384—2013(Hide quotations)


 3. As a mass noun. Incorporeal, immaterial, or abstract being, as opposed to body or matter; being or intelligence conceived as distinct from, or independent of, anything physical or material. Cf. mind n.1 19h.In Hegelian and Idealist philosophy, sometimes coloured by sense 18b.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) John iii. 6   That that is born of spirit [L. spiritu], is spirit [L. spiritus].
1611   Bible (King James) Isa. xxxi. 3   Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit .  View more context for this quotation
1690   J. Locke Ess. Humane Understanding ii. xxiii. 142   The Ideas we have belonging, and peculiar to Spirit, are Thinking, and Will.
1726   I. Watts Logick (ed. 2) i. ii. 23   Modes belong either to Body or to Spirit, or to both... Modes of Spirit belong only to Minds.
1832   D. Brewster Lett. Nat. Magic ii. 10   The sentinel which guards the pass between the worlds of matter and of spirit.
1911   W. McDougall Body & Mind v. 67   Berkeley..rejected altogether the ‘unknown somewhat’ that we call matter, while retaining the equally unknown somewhat that we call spirit.
2006   Philadelphia Inquirer 24 Dec. c5/5   Incarnationally, we are always linking heaven and earth, eternity and time, body and soul, spirit to matter.

c1384—2006(Hide quotations)

 ** The animating intelligence or sentient element of a person, and related senses.
 4. The animating intelligence or sentient element or aspect of a person, as the seat of action, reason, and feeling, and as the source of desire; the will. Not always clearly distinguishable from sense 2a. Frequently in expressed or implied contrast with the body; cf. body n. 1c.

 a. Without article or possessive. Frequently with in. Cf. Phrases 2a.poor in (also of) spirit: meek, modest; see the note at poor adj. 1c.

1340   Ayenbite (1866) 241   Huo þet is poure of spirit, þet is of wylle, He ne zekþ..ne richesses.
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1969) Isa. lxvi. 2   To whom forsoþe shal I beholden, no but to þe porelet & contrit in spirit [L. spiritu].
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 1 Cor. vii. 34   And a..mayden thenkith what thingis ben of the Lord, that sche be hooly in body and spirit [L. spiritu].
c1475  (a1449)    J. Lydgate Minor Poems (1934) ii. 664   This rose of Iericho,..Pore in spirit, parfit in pacyence.
1543   G. Joye George Ioye confuteth Winchesters Articles f. xviv   To mortifye his owne affectes and to set naught by himself, to abnegate and renownce his estimacion and glorye, to be renewed in spirit and to folow christe mekely to dethe.
1582   N. Lichefield tr. F. L. de Castanheda 1st Bk. Hist. Discouerie E. Indias lxx. f. 143   The Captaine Generall was inwardly moued in spirit.
1665   S. Patrick Parable of Pilgrim xix. 186   Losing more time by these dejections of spirit.
1704   Clarendon's Hist. Rebellion III. xvi. 516   The poor Man had not Spirit enough to discern what was best for him.
1779   Mirror No. 10   Mr. Fleetwood felt an unusual elevation of spirit.
1857   W. M. Thackeray Virginians (1858) I. vi. 49   Saddened and humbled in spirit, the young officer presented himself after a while to his old friends.
1926   Woman Citizen Sept. 26/2   An experienced swimming coach lays the recent athletic achievements of women to their new freedom of dress.., but he gives even more importance to their new freedom of spirit and their complete lack of fear.
1941   P. Hamilton Hangover Square 159   She had not the fanatical anguished social snobbery and aspirations of Peter, but she was all the same, and on the quiet, at one with him in spirit.
2002   Sport Fishing Sept. 72/2   Going after 200- to 300-pound tuna in deep water is not for the timid in spirit.

1340—2002(Hide quotations)


 b. With reference to a particular person. Chiefly with possessive adjective or genitive.In early use (e.g. in quot. c1440) also used more vaguely to denote a person; cf. soul n. 9a.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Psalms l. 19   Sacrifise to God, [is] a spiritt [L. spiritus] holly trublid.
c1405  (c1385)    G. Chaucer Knight's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 1905   Nat may the woful spirit in myn herte Declare a point of alle my sorwes smerte.
c1440  (a1400)    Awntyrs Arthure (Thornton) l. 254   The holy goste, That enspyres alle sperites..to come to that blysse.
1551   Bible (Matthew's) Luke i. f. xxxv/1   My spirite reioyseth in god my sauiour.
1585   T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay Nauigations Turkie iii. i. f. 69v   They doe teach them to learne some art or occupation, according to the capacitie of their spirit.
1604   E. Grimeston tr. J. de Acosta Nat. & Morall Hist. Indies ii. iv. 88   As well in the fruites of the earth, as in the bodies and spirits of men.
c1665   L. Hutchinson Life in Mem. Col. Hutchinson (1973) 280   But these low things bounded not their greate spiritts.
1743   P. Francis & W. Dunkin tr. Horace Odes (new ed.) I. ii. iii. 191   Should Fortune frown, live Thou serene, Nor let your Spirit rise too high.
1789   W. Cowper On Queen's Visit to London 65   That cordial thought her spirit cheer'd.
1827   H. Hallam Constit. Hist. Eng. I. iii. 174   They stood the trial of their spirits without swerving from their allegiance.
1872   J. Morley Voltaire i. 7   Many new things, after which the spirits of others were unconsciously groping and dumbly yearning.
1961   N. Roy Black Albino (1989) ii. 52   I am getting near the time when my spirit craves new lands and old faces.
2005   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 5 June viii. 8/4   The laid-back nature is conducive to my spirit. It fits me as a person.

a1382—2005(Hide quotations)


 c. With the, with reference to human beings in general.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Baruch iii. 1   The soule in anguysshes, and the spirit [L. spiritus] tormentid crieth to thee.
c1450   tr. Secreta Secret. (Royal) 24   Whan the spirit hath take refeccioun in good odoures.
a1500  (?a1450)    Gesta Romanorum (Harl. 7333) (1879) 4   Þi flesch, þat dispisith all werkis that þe spirite lovith.
a1500   tr. Thomas à Kempis De Imitatione Christi (Trin. Dublin) (1893) ii. viii. 48   Blesful is þat man whom..he calliþ fro teres to þe ioy of þe spirit.
1560   J. Daus tr. J. Sleidane Commentaries f. lv   Luther..hath offended in..not teaching those thinges, that are of the spirite.
1614   C. Brooke Ghost Richard III ii. xxxviii. sig. E4   As the Catholick Spirit in Man applyes Each Sence and Organ, to their proper Ends.
1665   R. Howard Committee iii, in Four New Plays 99   Saffron-posset-drink is very good against The heaviness of the Spirit.
1782   W. Cowper Hope in Poems 156   Hopes..That cannot..cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight.
1850   Ld. Tennyson In Memoriam xli. 64   Delights..That stir the spirit's inner deeps.
1984   E. de Waal Seeking God ii. 31   St Benedict was not concerned to stifle the spirit with over-legislating.
2001   I. Sinclair Landor's Tower (2002) i. ii. 17   Twelve months in Shepherd's Bush,..beavering anonymously for the BBC, on left-field projects that will never see the light of day, permanently disables the spirit.

a1382—2001(Hide quotations)


5. Hostility, animosity. Obsolete except as merged in sense 6.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 370) (1850) 2 Chron. xxi. 16   Thanne the Lord rerede aȝeinus Joram the spirite [L. spiritum] of Philisteis, and of Arabes.
1611   Bible (King James) Ecclus. x. 4   If the spirit of the ruler rise vp against thee, leaue not thy place.  View more context for this quotation
1682   J. Bunyan Holy War 81   Their continuing in their Rebellion did but chafe, and heat the spirit of the Captains.
a1715   Bp. G. Burnet Hist. Own Time (1724) I. 269   The carelessness and luxury of the Court came to be so much exposed, that the King's spirit was much sharpened upon it.
1775   J. Ash New Dict. Eng. Lang.   Animoseness, heat, spirit, vehemence of temper.

a1382—1775(Hide quotations)


 a. Courage; boldness, assertiveness, mettle. Frequently in man (or woman) of spirit.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1961) Josh. v. 1   Þe herte of hem ys vnboundyn, & þer abood not in hem spirit [L. spiritus] of hem dredynge þe entre of þe sonys of Irael.
c1400   tr. Aelred of Rievaulx De Institutione Inclusarum (Vernon) (1984) 50 (MED)   O blessyde Marie, what herte haddest þu, what spirit, what strenkþe whanne þu vylle adoun..to-fore Crist.
c1540   J. Bellenden tr. H. Boece Hyst. & Cron. Scotl. iii. xiv. f. xxxv/2   Seing Caratak of sa inuinsabyl sperit.
1598   W. Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 1 iv. i. 102   All furnisht al in Armes..As ful of spirit as the month of May.  View more context for this quotation
1620   tr. G. Boccaccio Decameron II. f. 81   She began the quarrell first: and what I do is but to right my wrong, as any other woman of spirit would do.
1749   H. Fielding Tom Jones II. iv. viii. 50   Molly had too much Spirit to bear this Treatment tamely.  View more context for this quotation
1780   Mirror No. 102   Youths entering on the stage of life are catched with the engaging appellation, ‘a man of spirit’.
1809   Ld. Byron Eng. Bards & Sc. Reviewers (ed. 2) Postscr. 84   ‘The age of chivalry is over’, or, in the vulgar tongue, there is no spirit now-a-days.
1890   ‘L. Falconer’ Mademoiselle Ixe i. 33   She consoled herself by describing what other people called disobedience as spirit.
1911   H. S. Harrison Queed xxiii. 291   That suspicionful scrutiny so galling to men of spirit.
1986   D. Caute News from Nowhere i. v. 59   I think your mother's a woman of great spirit.
2013   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 7 Mar. e12/4   There are these misconceptions and generalizations that don't fit this person who is full of spirit and down-to-earthiness.

a1382—2013(Hide quotations)


 b. With with and (sometimes) modifying adjective, forming adverbial phrases with the sense ‘with boldness; vigorously, with gusto’.

1570   J. Foxe Actes & Monumentes (rev. ed.) II. xi. 1699/1   After that D. Taylour thus with great spirite and courage had aunswered for him selfe.
1593   G. Markham Disc. Horsmanshippe ii. sig. C.3v   Then may you well aduenture to trotte him [sc. your horse] in the same, making him doo it with spirite and nimblenes.
1600   W. Shakespeare Merchant of Venice ii. vi. 13   All things that are are with more spirit chased then enioyd.
1668   P. Rycaut Present State Ottoman Empire (new ed.) ii. xvi. 144   They have..license from their Superiour, to be drunk.., to be better able to perform with more spirit and vehemency their mad Dance.
a1715   Bp. G. Burnet Hist. Own Time (1724) I. 349   If the King would have acted with the spirit that he sometimes put on, they might have carried their business.
1799   Ld. Nelson Let. 7 June in Dispatches & Lett. (1846) VII. p. clxxxiv   Don Jose..has on several occasions conducted himself with spirit.
1816   W. Scott Old Mortality iii, in Tales of my Landlord 1st Ser. IV. 54   Ere Morton or Burley had reached the post to be defended, the enemy had commenced an attack upon it with great spirit.
1830   F. Marryat King's Own I. xiii. 193   The action was now maintained with spirit, but much to the disadvantage of the cutter.
1905   Tom Watson's Mag. Mar. 81/1   ‘Baxter, some brandy and soda. Look sharp.’ ‘Yes, sir; thank you, sir,’ answered Baxter with spirit.
1961   HIFI/Stereo Rev. May 82/3   The music is done with great spirit by Karajan and his colleagues.
2005   Independent 1 Feb. 30/5   Those gifted, alluring and exciting creatures..who fought with spirit and courage to overcome Puritan prejudices about women on the stage.

1570—2005(Hide quotations)

 7. In plural.

 a. A person's mood or emotional state, esp. as liable to be depressed or lifted by events or circumstances. Frequently with qualifying adjective, esp. in adverbial phrases with in.Possibly in origin an extended use of sense 21a.Alternatively, quot. c1405   may show sense 21b, or a blending of the two senses.With quot. 1487   cf. to take spirit at Phrases 5.high spirits, low spirits: see the first element.to lift a person's spirits: see lift v. Additions.

c1400   J. Wyclif On the Seven Deadly Sins (Bodl. 647) in Sel. Eng. Wks. (1871) III. 135 (MED)   Þre harmes fallen of ire..movyng of spiritis lettis oft men to herberow þo Holy Gost, þat lufs reste in soule.
c1405  (c1385)    G. Chaucer Knight's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 511   So feble eek were his spiritz and so lowe..þt no man koude knowe His speche nor his voys.
1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) vi. 223   He..sumdeill affrayit wes; But in schort tym he till him tais His spiritis richt full hardely.
1548   Hall's Vnion: Richard III f. xlix   To visite his familie, and to recreate and refreshe his spirites (as he openly sayde).
1592   Arden of Feversham i. 1   Arden, cheere vp thy spirits and droup no more.
1608   G. Chapman Conspiracie Duke of Byron v. i. 133   For we shall never brag That we have made his spirits check at death.
1675   E. Cocker Morals 53   Sleep..Revivifies the Brain, the Spirits chears.
1719   D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 232   Dangers, the Sight of which, if discover'd to him, would..sink his Spirits.
1769   S. Gunning Cottage III. xxi. 43   I found Mr. Edward Abington in his library.., seemingly in poor spirits.
1819   W. Irving Sketch Bk. i. 51   She seems in better spirits than I have ever known her.
1845   J. Coulter Adventures Pacific xi. 135   It is one of the means of keeping up the spirits of the men on long voyages.
1907   ‘N. Blanchan’ Birds Every Child should Know ii. 19   That ‘little scrap of valour’, the chickadee, keeps his spirits high until ours cannot but be cheered.
1918   D. Haig Diary 10 Oct. in War Diaries & Lett. 1914–18 (2005) 472   I found Foch in very good spirits and highly complimentary at what British Army had done.
1977   Listener 10 Feb. 169/3   Lenin and his wife..were not above a little whistling in the dark to keep up their spirits.
2008   P. Hensher Northern Clemency 122   They were alone in the restaurant, but it would do to perk up the spirits.

c1400—2008(Hide quotations)


 b. A positive emotional state; vivacity, liveliness, cheerfulness. Cf. sense 9b.

1716   Lady M. W. Montagu Let. 16 Aug. (1965) I. 253   I found my selfe perfectly recover'd and have had Spirits enough to go see all that is curious in the Town.
1780   Mirror No. 81   I lost all my former spirits, as well as my former bloom.
1803   Med. & Physical Jrnl. 9 211   Loss of appetite and spirits, succeeded with thirst.
1852   H. B. Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin II. xxiii. 71   The horse would roll when he was bringing him up from the stable; he 's so full of spirits.
1917   P. Gibbs Battles of Somme 265   The long trails of the walking wounded, marvellously brave, wonderfully full of spirits.
1986   D. Davis tr. N. Ginzburg City & House (1989) 159   Old, loyal friends who'll help her to regain her former spirits.

1716—1986(Hide quotations)

8. In plural.

 a. Reflective or perceptive faculties; mental powers; senses, wits. Obsolete.

c1450   Alphabet of Tales (1905) II. 448 (MED)   He fell down in swownyng..when he come vnto his spyrittis agayn he went furth.
1526   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection ii. sig. Piiii   That..thou gather to the thy spirites and be..quyete.
1598   F. Meres tr. Luis de Granada Deuotion lviii. 551   Neither can he recollect his spirits,..that in prayer hee may..fixe his minde vpon God.
1647   J. Howell New Vol. of Lett. 233   Truly the more I scrue up my spirits to reach it, the more I am swallowed in a gulf of admiration.
1697   J. Dryden tr. Virgil Pastorals iv, in tr. Virgil Wks. 19   To sing thy Praise, wou'd Heav'n my breath prolong, Infusing Spirits worthy such a Song.

c1450—1697(Hide quotations)


 b. A person's nature, character, or temperament. Cf. sense 17a. Obsolete. rare.

1604   W. Shakespeare Hamlet iii. ii. 56   For what aduancement may I hope from thee That no reuenew hast but thy good spirits To feede and clothe thee.  View more context for this quotation

1604—1604(Hide quotations)

 9. The quality of being lively or animated; vivacity.

 a. figurative. Of a thing.

1588   T. Kyd tr. T. Tasso Housholders Philos. f. 20v   The small wynes, and those of little spirite that quickly lose theyr strength.
1780   R. B. Sheridan School for Scandal iii. iii. 35   Spa water..has all the pertness of Champaigne, without its spirit.
1874   H. H. Cole Catal. Objects Indian Art S. Kensington Mus. App. 281   The action and modelling of the conventional griffin has some spirit about it.
1929   N. Amer. Rev. Nov. 548/1   Not that the city of Cleveland lacked spirit.
2001   S. Barnett tr. F. von Schlegel On Study Greek Poetry 58   A poem of perfect style and faultless accuracy but without spirit and life would amount only to an exiguity of no value.

1588—2001(Hide quotations)


 b. Of a person, or his or her actions, speech, etc. Cf. sense 7b.

1651   W. Garrett Ανθολογια 25   Yea, he often preached..with much spirit, and unexpected vivacity, as a mighty man refreshed with the wine of the Spirit of God.
1691   J. Evelyn Diary (1955) V. 68   An honest discourse, but pronounced, or rather read, without any Spirit or seeming concerne.
1753   T. Gray Long Story in Six Poems 16   Arm'd with spirit, wit, and satire.
1867   J. Ruskin Time & Tide v. 26   She danced her joyful dance with perfect grace, spirit, sweetness, and self-forgetfulness.
1927   Daily Tel. 14 June 12/6   The performance..was as full of spirit and élan as the delightful ‘snippets’ that help to make this ballet perhaps the most exhilarating thing in the whole of M. Diaghileff's repertory.
2016   St. Louis (Missouri) Post-Dispatch (Nexis) 18 Mar.   Her love, spirit, liveliness, energy, thoughtfulness, and determination were legendary to those who knew her.

1651—2016(Hide quotations)

 II. An incorporeal, supernatural, rational being, and extended uses.

 a. An incorporeal, supernatural, rational being, of a type usually regarded as imperceptible to humans but capable of becoming visible at will, and frequently (esp. in early use) conceived as terrifying, troublesome, or hostile to humankind. Often with modifying word or phrase indicating the nature or character of the being, or the context or environment with which it is associated. Often with the, denoting a particular being.evil spirit, familiar spirit, foul spirit, Great Spirit: see the first element.

c1350   Apocalypse St. John: A Version (Harl. 874) (1961) 198 (MED)   Þe lorde god of spirites sent his aungel to þe prophetes.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1871) III. 279   We haveþ i-lerned of Socrates, þat was alway tendaunt to a spirit [L. divino] þat was i-cleped demon.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 170 (MED)   Iesu..Was temptide with þe spirit of wronge.
?a1400  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Petyt) (1996) i. l. 7958   We fynd writen..of suilk a maner of spirites, bituex þe moyne & þe erth won.
1484   W. Caxton tr. G. de la Tour-Landry Bk. Knight of Tower (1971) lxii. 88   His wyf..sayd it was the fende or elles the goblyn or somme spyryte.
a1550   in R. Dyboski Songs, Carols & Other Misc. Poems (1908) 69   Þe sperytis infernall, all þe hole rowte.
1590   E. Digby Dissuasiue 196   Gabriell the spirit of the Moone..begun his dominion ouer the world, the yeare of our Saviour his incarnation 1525.
1611   Bible (King James) 1 Tim. iv. 1   Giuing heed to seducing spirits .  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost i. 423   For Spirits when they please Can either Sex assume, or both.  View more context for this quotation
1710   Ld. Shaftesbury Soliloquy 16   We have each of us a Demon, Genius, Angel, or Guardian-Spirit.
1791   N. Tucker tr. E. Swedenborg Apocalypse Revealed II. xiv. §655   To whom the draconic spirit addressed the same words.
1800   W. Wordsworth in W. Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge Lyrical Ballads II. 135   With gentle hand Touch,—for there is a Spirit in the woods.
1849   R. Browning Poems (new ed.) 192   As if God bade some spirit plague a world.
1900   Folklore 11 328   ‘But there are so many tigers; are you not afraid?’ I asked. ‘No,’ said he, ‘I am a retainer of the mountain-spirit,..and so am safe.’
1984   D. Cupitt Sea of Faith ii. 37   Almost any event that is not caused by men or animals, but which is important or unexpected or awesome, is seen as caused by a spirit.
2002   N. Drury Dict. Esoteric 173/1   Kobold, in German folk-belief, a gnome or spirit that haunts houses or underground mines.

c1350—2002(Hide quotations)


 b. Such a being imagined or conceived as possessing and controlling a person.

c1350   Apocalypse St. John: A Version (Harl. 874) (1961) 130 (MED)   Out of þe fals prophetes mouþes foule spirites comen as it were frosshes for þai ben spirites doande wondres.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Matt. viii. 16   Thei brouȝte to hym many hauynge deuelys, and he castide out spiritis [L. spiritus] by word.
1546   T. Langley tr. P. Vergil Abridgem. Notable Worke i. xviii. f. xxxviiii   To banish the spirit out of ye Demoniake.
1579   T. North tr. Plutarch Liues 360   An oracle..whose spirit possessed many inhabitants thereabouts, and bestraught them of their wittes.
1601   J. Deacon & J. Walker Summarie Answere to Darel 238   The silly beholders..are easily brought to intertaine for infallible truth, that the partie is (in deed) essentiallie possessed with some Spirit or Diuell.
1651   T. Hobbes Leviathan i. viii. 38   Whosoever behaved himselfe in extraordinory manner, was thought by the Jewes to be possessed either with a good, or evill spirit.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. at Demoniac   A Person possess'd with a Spirit, or Demon.
1843   W. Scott Existence Evil Spirits Proved iv. 320   It does not appear..that the Pythian priestess was ever..possessed by a spirit.
1884   M. A. Martin Our Maoris ii. 35   He..told us that an Atua Maori,—that is to say, a man who professes to be possessed by a spirit,—had been disturbing the neighbourhood.
1937   Folk-lore 48 210   A ceremonial red-ochred wig used by persons suffering from so-called ‘possession’ by a spirit or spirits.
1972   T. Keneally Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) iv. 24   Jimmie seemed taken over by a bad spirit, lassitude and submission he could not account for.
2008   Harper's Mag. June 63/2   Zar, in which some Middle Easterners and North Africans are possessed by a spirit.

c1350—2008(Hide quotations)


 c. In generalized sense: any being (as God, a human, a personification, etc.) conceptualized as essentially incorporeal or immaterial. Cf. sense 3.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) John iv. 24   God is a spirit.
c1400  (?a1384)    J. Wyclif Sel. Eng. Wks. (1871) III. 502 (MED)   Hit is heresye to trowe þat Crist is a spiryt and no body.
a1425  (a1400)    Prick of Conscience (Galba & Harl.) (1863) l. 3022   Bot now may som..aske how þe saul may fele payne, Þat es noght elles bot a spirit.
1526   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection iii. sig. LLLi   God..is a spirit: and they that be his true worshyppers, muste worshyp hym in spirit.
1645   A. Ross Philos. Touch-stone 121   As the soule is a spirit, so her sufferings are spirituall: all suffering supposeth not corruptibilitie, except it be caused by the prime elementary qualities, of which the soule is not capable.
a1653   H. Binning Wks. (1735) 9/1   Angels and Men next God, are Spirits, as He is a Spirit.
1710   G. Berkeley Treat. Princ. Human Knowl. §6   In my Mind or in that of any other Created Spirit..or..in the Mind of some Eternal Spirit.
1791   W. Enfield Brucker's Hist. Philos. II. iv. iii. 217   The chief heads of the Cabbalistic Doctrine are these... The Being from whom all things proceed is a Spirit, uncreated, eternal,..existing by the necessity of its nature.
1853   Rep. Ludhiana Christian Mission in S. H. Singh Heritage of Sikhs (1983) 212   They are called Nirankaris, from their belief in god, as a spirit without bodily form.
1874   J. Parker Paraclete i. i. 9   Man has a body, but he is a spirit.
1919   Biblical World 53 339   The reasonableness of faith in a God who is a spirit.
1996   R. Moss Conscious Dreaming vi. 177   Living people are spirits that have bodies.

c1384—1996(Hide quotations)

 11. A person or animal likened in some way to a supernatural being.

 a. A kidnapper, an abductor; spec. one supplying forced labour for the West Indies and North America. Cf. spirit v. 5. historical and rare after the 17th cent.In quot. 1611   in punning reference to sense 10a.

1611   T. Middleton & T. Dekker Roaring Girle iii. iii. sig. G4   Adam. Who comes yonder..? Alex. I know 'em, they are officers, sir wee'l leaue you. S. Dauy. My good knights. Leaue me, you see I'me haunted now with spirits.
1645   in J. C. Jeaffreson Middlesex County Rec. (1888) III. 181   Assaulting and pumping of Margarett Emmerson upon the false report of a spiritt or an inticer or inveagler of children from their parentes.
1649   W. Bullock Virginia impartially Examined ii. 14   The usuall way of getting servants, hath been by a sort of men nick-named Spirits, who take up all the idle, lazie, simple people they can intice, such as have professed idlenesse, and will rather beg then work; who are perswaded by these Spirits, they shall goe into a place where food shall drop into their mouthes.
1690   J. Child Disc. Trade x. 170   A sort of loose vagrant People..which Merchants and Masters of Ships by their Agents (or Spirits, as they were called) gathered up about the Streets of London, and other places.
2007   D. Jordan White Cargo viii. 135   In 1680, a spirit named Ann Servant was tried before Middlesex Assizes for assaulting a young woman called Alice Flax and putting her on board a ship that took her to Virginia.

1611—2007(Hide quotations)


b. Printing. A young assistant in a printing office. Cf. devil n. 8a. Obsolete. rare.Apparently in reference to such assistants getting covered in ink in the course of their work (see quot.).

1683   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises II. Dict. 373   The Press-man sometimes has a Week-Boy to Take Sheets, as they are Printed off the Tympan. These Boys do..black and Dawb themselves; whence the Workmen do Jocosely call them Devils; and sometimes Spirits, and sometimes Flies.

1683—1683(Hide quotations)


c. The bufflehead, Bucephala albeola, a North American diving duck; cf. spirit duck n. at Compounds 3. Obsolete.

1747   G. Edwards Nat. Hist. Birds II. 100   He says it was brought from Newfoundland in America, where the Seamen call it a Spirit, but for what Cause I know not. I conjecture it to be a very sudden Diver, and it may perhaps as suddenly appear again in a distant Part of the Sea.
1785   T. Pennant Arctic Zool. II. ii. 558   Called sometimes the Spirit, as is supposed, from its suddenly appearing again at a distance, after diving.
1897   M. Chamberlain Nuttall's Pop. Handbk. Ornithol. East. N. Amer. (rev. ed.) II. 347   This very elegant little duck [sc. Charitonetta albeola].., to which the aborigines have given the name of Spirit, or Conjurer, from the impunity with which it usually escapes at the flash of the gun or the twang of the bow.

1747—1897(Hide quotations)


d. A person who is shunned by others as though invisible; a pariah. Obsolete. rare.

1825   Lady West Jrnl. 28 Apr. in F. D. Drewitt Bombay in Days George IV (1907) x. 176   I shall gain the character here of a ‘spirit’,..having met several times at his house ladies of spotted reputation, and who are not visited by any one.

1825—1825(Hide quotations)

 III. Breath, and related senses.

 a. Breath; (also) the act of breathing, respiration. rare after 18th cent.In later use with consciousness of the word's etymology.

c1350   Psalter (BL Add. 17376) in K. D. Bülbring Earliest Compl. Eng. Prose Psalter (1891) xxxii. 6 (MED)   Þe heuens ben fastened þurwe þe worde of our Lord, and alle her uertue is of spiriȝt of ys mouþe.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 2 Thess. ii. 8   The ilke wickid man..whom the Lord Jhesu schal sle with the spirit [L. spiritu] of his mouth.
1481   tr. Cicero De Senectute (Caxton) sig. c8v   Their wisedom ascendid in encreacyng & contynued vnto the laste spirite of their lyues.
1483   W. Caxton tr. J. de Voragine Golden Legende f. cxxix/2   For all her body bycam cold And she felte that her spirite helde her in her brest.
1565   W. Allen Def. & Declar. Doctr. Purgatory ii. vii. f. 181   Any mannes finall continuance in sin or wickednes: vpon whom in the laste spirite of breathe..so mannes praiers then shall be bothe needefull, and exceding beneficiall vnto him.
1581   J. Marbeck Bk. Notes & Common Places 55   Him shall God destroie with ye spirit of his mouth.
1678   N. Wanley Wonders Little World iii. xliv. §15. 226/1   For as much as the force of the words was sharp and that there was a succession of Spirits.
1758   T. Francklin tr. Sophocles Antigone v. i, in tr. Sophocles Trag. II. 85   Whilst life remain'd, on the soft bosom hung Of the dear maid..his last spirit breath'd O'er her pale cheek.
1961   Musical Times June 360/2   ‘Expired’..means literally ‘gave out his spirit (breath)’.

c1350—1961(Hide quotations)


b. A wind; a movement of wind or air. Obsolete.In later use poetic and associated with other senses.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1959) Gen. viii. 1   Þe lord..brouȝte to a spyrit [a1425 L.V. wynd; L. spiritum] vpon þe erþ, and þe watris ben lassed.
a1400   Prymer (St. John's Cambr.) (1891) 24 (MED)   Reyn and dew blesse ȝe to the lord; alle spiritis [c1425 Cambr. wyndis] of god blesse ȝe to the lord.
1561   J. Daus tr. H. Bullinger Hundred Serm. vpon Apocalips li. 346   Fyre, brimestone, and spirite of tempeste.
1601   P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World I. ii. lxxix. 37   Al the spirit and winde which should beare them [sc. birds] up, is withdrawne from them.
1626   F. Bacon Sylua Syluarum §39   All Purgers haue in them a raw Spirit, or Wind; which is the Principall Cause of Tortion in the Stomach.
1725   A. Pope tr. Homer Odyssey II. vii. 152   The balmy spirit of the western gale.
1752   J. Jackson Chronol. Antiq. I. 3   The first Act of God towards the Creation or Formation of this System was his causing a strong Wind, called the Spirit of God, to move upon the Waters.
a1822   P. B. Shelley Witch of Atlas lx, in Posthumous Poems (1824) 49   With motion like the spirit of that wind Whose soft step deepens slumber.
1880   F. W. H. Myers Stanzas on Shelley in Macmillan's Mag. No. 245. 392   Yet, with an Orphic whisper blent, A Spirit in the west-wind sighs.

a1382—1880(Hide quotations)


13. Music. A melody, a tune; an air (air n.1 10a). Obsolete. rare.

1608   T. Weelkes (title)    Ayeres or phantasticke spirites for three voices.

1608—1608(Hide quotations)


14. Either of the diacritics (῾ and ᾿) used in polytonic Greek orthography to indicate, respectively, the presence or absence of aspiration; a rough or smooth breathing (breathing n. 9). Cf. spiritus asper n., spiritus lenis n. Obsolete.

1612   J. Brinsley Ludus Lit. xx. 232   Call vpon them oft to marke carefully the accents of each word, with the spirits.
1680   G. Dalgarno Didascalocophus 126   The unnecessary and troublesome luggage of Spirits and Accents.
1765   J. Wesley Short Greek Gram. i. 2   Every Initial Vowel has a Spirit prefixed.
1844   G. S. Faber Sacred Cal. Prophecy (ed. 2) III. v. v. 163   The inscription in the greek cursive character, even with the accompanying accents and spirits.
1861   F. H. A. Scrivener Plain Introd. Crit. New Test. ii. 39   The rest of the book has neither spirits..nor accents.

1612—1861(Hide quotations)

 IV. The divine nature or essential power of God.
 15. Theology. The divine nature or essential power of God, regarded as a creative, animating, or inspiring influence; spec. the Third Person (person n. 6a) of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. See Phrases 1.

 a. With the and (usually) capital initial.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Mark i. 12   Anon the Spirit [L. Spiritus] puttide hym in to desert.
c1400   Prose Versions New Test.: Rom. (Selwyn) (1904) viii. 26   Þe Spirit [L. Spiritus] also helpeþ oure infirmyte.
c1475   Court of Sapience (Trin. Cambr.) (1927) l. 580 (MED)   Thow clepyst them aryght..The fadyr full of myght; The son, of wyt; the spyryt, of goodnes.
c1520   M. Nisbet New Test. in Scots (1903) II. John i. 32   I saw the spirit cummande doun as a dow fra heuen.
1546   Bp. S. Gardiner Declar. True Articles f. lxxxviii   Baptisme ye sacrament of birth of ye spirite, as ye speake, in newe englyssh, and of the holly goost as the olde english turned it.
1679   Established Test 24   If the Spirit moves, he can disgorge himself against the Priests of Baal, the Hirelings.
1740   J. Dickinson Witness of Spirit 4   One of the ordinary Means, by which the Spirit beareth witness in our favour, is the Word of God.
1765   W. Mason Spiritual Treasury, for Children of God 152   It is a knowledge only revealed by the Spirit..that the man Jesus is the only Saviour.
a1822   P. B. Shelley Charles I ii, in Wks. (1870) II. 383   The apostolic power with which the Spirit Has filled its elect vessels.
1865   T. T. Carter in Oxf. Lent Serm. xiii. 198   Within this new dispensation of the Spirit there is a specially sacred Presence of our Lord.
1944   W. Temple Let. 12 Jan. (1963) 142   I have treated the Son and the Spirit as God sub specie temporis and the Father as God sub specie eternitatis.
1977   G. W. H. Lampe God as Spirit iii. 91   Perhaps the most original and significant insights of Paul are that the Spirit's inspiration makes men Christlike and, ideally, makes the community a visible re-embodiment of Christ.
2013   Church Times 19 July 18/3   The continuing work of unity is effected through the Spirit, who is the source of unity, and also the source of diversity and giftedness.

c1384—2013(Hide quotations)


 b. In other constructions.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 1 Tim. iii. 16   That that is schewid in fleisch, is iustified in spirit, it apperide to aungels..it is takyn vp in glorie.
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) iv. l. 2363 (MED)   The hyhe god of his spirit Yaf to..men..Upon the forme and the matiere Of that he wolde make hem wise.
c1400   Bk. to Mother (Bodl.) 151 (MED)   I schal preie my Fadur, and anoþer Spirit he schal ȝeue to ȝou..þe Spirit of soþnes.
1568   H. Charteris Pref. Lyndesay's Wks. in J. A. H. Murray Minor Poems D. Lyndesay (1871) 10*   God..sall strenthin with his Spirit.
1592   L. Andrewes Wonderfull Combate sig. A2   The gracious assistance of his good Spirite.
1648   R. Wilkinson Saints Trav. Canaan 112   The..soul..lives above all feares and torments; being kept safe in this Divine Spirit and power.
1678   G. Fox & J. Burnyeat New-Eng.-fire-brand Quenched 181   If they..erred from his Spirit, then they are not like to See him indeed.
a1727   J. Reynolds Pleasure & Benefit being Relig. (1740) 30   His Almighty Spirit, whom he sends as Distributer and Applicator of his purchased Redemption.
1798   J. Murray Universalism Vindicated 56   The God who made the promise, to Adam, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and all that he by his spirit spoke to.
1804   J. H. Hobart Compan. for Altar 105   Not independently on human exertions..does this blessed Spirit effect the renovation of the soul.
1882   Homiletic Monthly (U.S.) Oct. 30   Even the inshining of God's Spirit into our hearts still leaves us only men.
1911   Herald of Gospel-Liberty (Dayton, Ohio) 28 Sept. 1218/1   The Lord puts His Spirit within His people to enable them to walk in His statutes.
1957   New Outlook May 59/2   Every person..is actually created in God's image and endowed with God's spirit.
2000   G. O'Collins in A. Hastings et al. Oxf. Compan. Christian Thought 599/2   New life through the indwelling divine Spirit.

c1384—2000(Hide quotations)

 V. A guiding or governing principle or power, and related senses.

 a. The active power of some emotion, disposition, motivation, etc., conceived as operating on or in a person in the manner of a possessing spirit (see sense 10b).  [In spirit of prophecy   (compare quots. c1430, 1560), after post-classical Latin spiritus prophetiae (Vulgate), Hellenistic Greek τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς προφητείας (New Testament); in spirit of error   (compare quot. 1551), after post-classical Latin spiritus erroris (Vulgate), Hellenistic Greek τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης (New Testament). In instances in the Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures after the corresponding use of Hebrew rūăḥ ruach n.]

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 2 Tim. i. 7   God ȝaf not to vs the spirit [L. spiritum] of drede, but of vertu, and of loue, and sobrenesse.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1869) II. 165 (MED)   By a spirit of prophecie..þey telleþ what me doþ in fer contrayes.
c1430   N. Love Mirror Blessed Life (Brasenose e.9) (1908) 61   Knowynge hym by the spirit of prophecie.
a1450   tr. Aelred of Rievaulx De Institutione Inclusarum (Bodl.) (1984) 5 (MED)   Hou shamfast shuld she be..forto speke with a spiryt of ire.
1551   Bible (Matthew's) Isa. xix. 14   The Lorde hathe made Egypte droncken wyth the spirite of erroure, and they shall vse it in all matters.
1560   J. Daus tr. J. Sleidane Commentaries f. cxxix   One of them, as though he were moued with the spirite of prophecie, runeth vp and downe the citie.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) i. i. 9   O spirit of Loue, how quicke and fresh art thou.  View more context for this quotation
1668   J. Owen Nature Indwelling-sin i. 4   The effectual power of the Spirit of grace.
1705   Duchess of Marlborough Let. 21 May in Hist. MSS Comm.: Rep. MSS Duke of Buccleuch (1899) I. 354 in Parl. Papers (C. 9244) XLVI. 1   The spirit of lying runs away with more torrys than ever I had the honour to know.
1779   Mirror No. 18   The dark and gloomy spirit of fanaticism which prevailed so universally..during the last century.
1820   G. Belzoni Narr. Egypt & Nubia iii. 326   The spirit of contradiction excited by the illiberality of travellers.
1855   W. H. Prescott Hist. Reign Philip II of Spain I. ii. v. 473   The spirit of independence was fostered by the institutions of the country.
1917   E. S. Morse Japan Day by Day xxv. 378   Old chests, baskets, corn drying,..saved by the spirit of frugality in the hopes that sometime they may be useful.
1996   J. B. Keane Celebrated Lett. 8   There are too many letters which are dictated by hate and envy rather than by the spirit of love.

c1384—1996(Hide quotations)


 b. With indefinite article. An impulse, tendency, inclination, etc., of a specified kind.

a1425  (c1395)    Bible (Wycliffite, L.V.) (Royal) (1850) Isa. xix. 14   The Lord meddlid a spirit [L. spiritum] of errour in the myddis therof.
?1435  (▸1432)    J. Lydgate Minor Poems (1934) ii. 636   God send [thee] also..A spyrit [c1450 Cleo. spiryt]..Of konnyng.
1598   W. Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 1 v. ii. 63   A double spirit Of teaching and of learning.  View more context for this quotation
a1631   J. Donne Serm. (1955) II. 183   God giveth not his children..valour, and then leaveth them to a spirit of quarrelsomnesse.
1677   J. Brown Christ the Way xii. 221   A spirit of error is gone abroad, and many are carried off their feet therewith.
1712   J. Addison Spectator No. 445. ¶5   I fear they wou'd ascribe the laying down my Paper, on such an occasion, to a Spirit of Malcontentedness.
1765   Museum Rusticum 4 56   A certain spirit of improvement..has been promoted and carried on.
1774   O. Goldsmith Hist. Earth I. 18   If possest with a spirit of theory, his imagination will supply the rest.
1833   H. Martineau Messrs. Vanderput & Snoek ix. 133   The old woman had infused a further spirit of thankfulness into the suffering boy.
1859   C. Barker Devel. Associative Princ. iii. 62   To foster a spirit of comprehensive patriotism.
1904   Collier's 7 May 17/3   A spirit of friendly rivalry has existed between those expert reinsmen.
1981   Amer. Speech 56 87   Reactions against earlier epicene pronouns often reveal a spirit of antifeminism.
1997   J. Bowker World Relig. 38/1   Festival-goers indulge in a spirit of playfulness,..and throw red-coloured water and red powder at each other.

a1425—1997(Hide quotations)


 a. A particular (usually specified) character, disposition, or outlook existing in or animating a person or group of people.In later use often (with modifier) denoting the feeling of common purpose and camaraderie shared by a group; see community spirit, team spirit, etc.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Dan. v. 20   Whan his [sc. Nebuchadnezzar's] herte was reyside vp, and his spirit stablid to pride, he was putt doun of the seete of his rewme.
1440   J. Capgrave Life St. Norbert (1977) l. 114   Amongis grete men he was ful wel itawt, Amongis þe mene meke of spirith & goost.
1564   J. Rastell Confut. Serm. M. Iuell f. 137   Not onlye Moyses had the grace of gouerning.., but seuentie elders..had imparted vnto them of his spirite and dignitie.
1576   A. Fleming tr. Erasmus in Panoplie Epist. 337   He wisheth malicious..persons a better spirit.
1588   T. Kyd tr. T. Tasso Housholders Philos. f. 2v   There mette vs another youth of lesse yeeres, but no lesse gentle spirit.
1665   T. Herbert Some Years Trav. (new ed.) 62   Observing in his pupil a Spirit fitted for the Government of that Monarchy.
1682   J. Flavell Pract. Treat. Fear (new ed.) Ded. sig. A6   A dear friend (from whom I have often had the fair Idea and Character of your excellent Spirit).
1712   J. Addison Spectator No. 363. ¶8   His Person, his Port, and Behaviour, are suitable to a Spirit of the highest Rank.
1784   T. Lindsey Let. 30 July (2007) I. 435   But the dwelling on these circumstances betrays not a good spirit.
1856   J. A. Froude Hist. Eng. I. i. 31   By these measures the money-making spirit was for a time driven back.
1897   Cavalry Tactics 5   Like the quality of tact, the cavalry spirit is perceptible only by its results.
1968   S. L. Elliott Rusty Bugles i. iv in Three Austral. Plays 61   I got no time for them that don't uphold the camp spirit.
2011   S. Reynolds Retromania (2012) i. 21   The punishing minimalism of early techno especially..recalls the spirit of the Italian Futurists.

c1384—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. In adverbial phrases indicating the attitude, disposition, or frame of mind with which something is done, considered, or viewed.

c1480  (a1400)    St. Mary of Egypt 98 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) I. 299   He saw mene schynand be, & bot repofe to god seruand, of dedis gud & spyryt schaldand.
1532   R. Whitford Pype or Tonne f. ccii   But rather, with good wyll, and glad spirite: to be content with lesse than is nedefull.
1601   Bp. W. Barlow Serm. Paules Crosse Martij 1600 To Rdr. sig. A6v   But from what spirit these obiections proceede, may soone be gessed at.
1711   A. Pope Ess. Crit. 15   A perfect Judge will read each Work of Wit With the same Spirit that its Author writ.
1850   D. Webster Private Corr. (1856) II. 365   The editorial in the Courier..is exactly in the right spirit.
1965   E. J. Howard After Julius (new ed.) ii. x. 157   Playing a game of draughts in a spirit so competitive as to verge on the cantankerous.
2010   J. Al-Khalili Pathfinders (2012) iii. 39   Christian and Jewish scholars were now freer to share their knowledge in a spirit of more open collaboration.

c1480—2010(Hide quotations)


 a. The essential character, nature, or qualities of something.

?1534   tr. Erasmus Epystell Forbedynge Eatynge of Flesshe sig. Bv   The trewe spirite of the gospel.., whiche is sobre, mylde, & endewed with discrete symplicite.
1608   T. Price tr. O. Torsellino Hist. Our B. Lady of Loreto (new ed.) Ep. Ded. sig. *2v   This kinde of gratitude..doth little auaile..to infuse the true spirit of the worke into the Readers minde.
1690   W. Temple Ess. Poetry in Wks. (1720) I. 241   The true Spirit or Vein of ancient Poetry.
1721   R. Bradley Philos. Acct. Wks. Nature 189   Which is enough to support the Spirit of Botany.
1843   J. Ruskin Mod. Painters I. 261   The spirit of the hills is action; that of the lowlands, repose.
1888   J. Bryce Amer. Commonw. III. xciii. 298   To do so would be alien to the whole spirit of American legislation.
1968   Listener 21 Mar. 369/3   A simple slate pissoir where graffiti, true to the spirit of Rochdale, divide between sex and politics.
2015   Craft Arts Internat. 93 14/1   Rinpa artists are particularly adept at reducing an image to its essential elements, capturing something of the subject's spirit and essence.

?1534—2015(Hide quotations)


 b. The defining character or mood of a particular period, esp. as reflected in the prevailing ideas, beliefs, and attitudes of the time. Cf. zeitgeist n.

a1616   W. Shakespeare King John (1623) iv. ii. 176   Iohn. Aduerse Forreyners affright my Townes With dreadfull pompe of stout inuasion. Be Mercurie, set feathers to thy heeles, And flye (like thought) from them, to me againe. Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
1651   Severall Proc. Parl. No. 69. 1050   They have also ordered Mr. John Smith, and Mr. Mungo Law, two of the bitterest spirited Ministers in Scotland, to go to Sterling to take charge of the Garison there, which speaks out the spirit of the times.
1702   Clarendon's Hist. Rebellion I. i. 36   It seem'd the more reasonable to Digress, upon the Nature, and Character, and Fortune of the Duke; as being the best mirroir to discern the..Spirit of that Age.
1796   Crit. Rev. Dec. 444   To..submerge the brightening spirit of the times in those immense clouds of ignorance and darkness.
1820   P. B. Shelley Let. 1 May (1964) II. 189   It is the spirit of the age & we are all infected with it.
1884   W. E. Gladstone in Western Daily Press 22 Sept. 3/3   This legitimate process..conducted in the spirit of the present day.
1903   G. Matheson Representative Men of Bible 2nd Ser. xiii. 269   Shall a literary product reveal the spirit of its age and be silent as to the spirit of its author!
1931   H. Read Meaning of Art ii. 128   Scarcely any other painter of the last century so faithfully reflects the life and spirit of his period.
2016   Daily Tel. 26 Aug. 27/1   In the spirit of the times, she favoured inside-out stitching, no-hem and ‘unlined’ pieces.

a1616—2016(Hide quotations)


 c. Chiefly with the. The general intent or true meaning underlying a law, statement, etc., as opposed to its strict literal interpretation.Often contrasted or collocated with letter (see letter n.1 6, which antedates this sense by several centuries).Probably suggested by the contrast between spirit and letter in 2 Cor. 3:6, ‘Able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giueth life’ (King James Version), although in that passage the contrast is between the Mosaic law and divine grace rather than between a literal interpretation of the law and the intention behind it.

1742   Hist. & Proc. House of Lords V. 89   According to the known Spirit of our Law, we can do no Injury to any Man entitled to Tythes, by obliging him to apply to an inferior Court.
1802   Med. & Physical Jrnl. 8 288   Knowing..that Magistrates are generally obliged to inflict penalties according to the Letter and not according to the Spirit of an Act.
1857   F. W. Robertson's Serm. 3rd Ser. vi. 84   His faith appears to have consisted in disbelieving the letter, almost as much as in believing the spirit of the promise.
1920   Mining & Sci. Press 10 July 42/2   Where there are various forms of compulsion behind the written or unwritten codes, the shyster keeps the letter and violates the spirit.
1990   Marketing 17 May 1/4   It is in their interests to block tobacco imports and protect their national products, against the spirit of the Single Market.
2004   Vanderbilt Jrnl. Transnational Law 37 1   Under the principate that soon became the Roman Empire, the form of the law was often observed, but the spirit of the law was often lost.

1742—2004(Hide quotations)

 19. A person considered in relation to his or her character or disposition.

 a. With modifying adjective.kindred spirit: see the first element.

1559   J. Heywood tr. Seneca Troas ii. iii. sig. B.viiiv   Whereto would ye with slaughtred blood a noble spirite stayne?
1598   E. Guilpin Skialetheia v. sig. D4v   Here I conuerse with those diuiner spirits, Whose knowledge, and admire the world inherits.
1638   F. Junius Painting of Ancients 10   Many lively spirits at length are most pittifully turned away from their forward course.
1655   T. Fuller Church-hist. Brit. ix. 194   Thus impossible it is to please froward spirits.
1718   Free-thinker No. 56. 2   The Brave Spirits of France now strive to vindicate their Liberty in Religious Matters.
1746   P. Francis tr. Horace in P. Francis & W. Dunkin tr. Horace Epistles i. xix. 11   Let thirsty Spirits make the Bar their Choice.
1808   W. Scott in J. G. Lockhart Mem. Life Scott (1837) I. i. 27   He is..led to be the associate and companion of those inferior spirits with whom he is placed.
1849   T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. i. 34   A few regiments of household troops are sufficient to overawe all the discontented spirits of a large capital.
1958   Listener 6 Nov. 742/2   She was wonderful entertainment value and a rare spirit.
2010   Vanity Fair Aug. 121/2   We can detect that he's a poetic spirit by his beseeching eyes, cute freckles, and sensitive lower lip.

1559—2010(Hide quotations)


b. In other constructions. Obsolete (rare in later use).With quot. 1768   cf. soul n. 9a.

1603   S. Daniel Def. Ryme in Panegyrike (new ed.) sig. H3   Being..in all ages furnisht with spirites fitte to maintaine the maiestie of her owne greatnes.
a1648   Ld. Herbert Life Henry VIII (1649) 104   So haughty were the major part of the spirits in this Assembly, that..they condemned Luther's bookes to the fire.
1768   H. Brooke Fool of Quality III. xvi. 162   Our ship..was full manned with about two hundred and seventy spirits,..ready and desirous to go and meet death.
1890   Athenæum 23 Aug. 247/2   The miserable collapse of the Rucellai conspiracy left the Medici as strong as ever, but served to show..how many spirits were impatient of their rule.

1603—1890(Hide quotations)


 20. Usually with modifying adjective. A person viewed as the guiding or animating principle behind a group, movement, activity, etc.Recorded earliest in moving spirit n. at moving adj. Compounds.

1694   tr. E. Benoist Hist. Famous Edict of Nantes II. iv. 238   The Marshal de Bouillon design'd thereby to show, that he was the Moving Spirit of the Party; that his Advice was sufficient to incline them to War.
1849   Western Jrnl. Dec. 180   At no time of his life, did his abilities either natural or acquired rank him as the leading spirit of Kentucky in counsel or action.
1923   Outlook 4 Apr. 624/2   Robert Cecil is the driving spirit of the organization.
1982   Opera Canada Spring in R. Davies Enthusiasms (1990) 349   Dr. Ruby Mercer, the linchpin, the life and soul, the animating spirit of opera in Canada.
2014   S. Armstrong-Reid L. Creelman: Frontiers of Global Nursing vi. 131   Creelman would serve as the guiding spirit behind all five expert committees on nursing during the first two decades of the WHO's existence.

1694—2014(Hide quotations)

 VI. A substance, essence, etc., formerly believed to animate or provide life; a volatile substance, esp. one extracted by distillation.

 (a) A subtle or rarefied substance believed to be carried in the blood and to give life to all parts of the body (= vital spirit at vital adj. 2a). Also: any of several substances believed to be made from this in the brain, liver, and certain other organs, and to be responsible for specific body functions (see animal spirit n. 1, natural spirit n. at natural adj. and adv. Compounds 2). Also in plural. Now historical.

a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1865) I. 53   For þe son beme..draweþ oute þe humours,..and by drawing oute of spirites [L. spirituum] makeþ hem coward of herte.
a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add. 27944) (1975) I. iii. xxii. 121   A spirit is a subtil, aier[y] substaunce þat eggiþ and excitiþ þe vertues of þe body to here doynge and workes. Oþir..a spirit is a sotil body by þe strengþe of hete igendrid; in mannes body ȝeuynge lif by þe veynes..to bestis..and witt by..worchinge in bodies þat haueþ soules.
a1400   tr. Lanfranc Sci. Cirurgie (Ashm.) (1894) 162   Of þis clene blood þe spirit is engendrid; which spirit is..more sutil, þan ony bodi.
c1450  (▸1369)    G. Chaucer Bk. Duchess (Fairf. 16) (1871) l. 489   Hys sorwful hert gan faste faynt, And his spiritis [a1450 Tanner 346 spiritus] wexen dede.
c1475  (▸1392)    Surg. Treat. in MS Wellcome 564 f. 55 (MED)   If þat he haue þe science of knowynge of vertues, þe science of spiritis schal not be hid fro him.
1539   T. Elyot Castel of Helthe (new ed.) i. f. 10v   Spirite is an ayry substance subtyll, styringe the powers of the body to perfourme their operations.
1587   Sir P. Sidney & A. Golding tr. P. de Mornay Trewnesse Christian Relig. xiv. 239   A mans..eyes fayle because the Spirits of them fayle.
1615   H. Crooke Μικροκοσμογραϕια 61   The reason is, because all the spirits are immured.
a1646   J. Burroughes Expos. Hosea (1652) vi. 266   The fatter mens bodies are, the lesse blood and the fewer spirits they have.
1725   N. Robinson New Theory of Physick 250   What Remedies will be properest to repress the Disorders of the Spirits.
1819   A. Rees Cycl. XV. at Galenical   With Hippocrates, he [sc. Galen] divided the living body into three principles, or component parts, the solids, the humours, and the spirits.
1843   J. J. G. Wilkinson tr. E. Swedenborg Animal Kingdom I. xii. 372   To explain the nature of the spirit of the blood belongs to..psychology; to explain the nature of the body thereof, to angiology.
1901   M. Foster Lect. Hist. Physiol. v. 139   He added to the old view a new one, that the fermentative spirit which vitalized the blood passed also through the septum.
1951   Jrnl. Hist. Ideas 12 80   He [sc. Thomas Vicary] also seems to add a fourth, the generative spirit, which resides in the sexual organs and is responsible for procreation.
2004   S. Ochs Hist. Nerve Functions iv. 58   Galen postulated that different spirits were carried by the blood vessels (in the veins to nourish the body's tissue and in the arteries to confer vitality on the tissues).

a1387—2004(Hide quotations)


(b) figurative and in figurative contexts. Obsolete.

1583   Serm. Christes Death 98/1 in A. Marten tr. P. M. Vermigli Common Places   Through these [sc. faith, the word of God, and the sacraments] the spirit flowing from our head, wandereth vp and downe in the Church.
1719   W. Wood Surv. Trade (ed. 2) 4   It disperses that Blood and Spirits throughout all the Members, by which the Body Politick subsists.
1814   H. F. Cary tr. Dante Vision III. xxvi. 120   With the eye's spirit running forth to meet The ray.

1583—1814(Hide quotations)


b. In plural. Vital power or energy; the normal operation of the vital functions. Cf. sense 1b. Obsolete except as merged with sense 7a   (archaic in later use).

a1400   tr. Lanfranc Sci. Cirurgie (Ashm.) (1894) 287 (MED)   Whanne þe spiritis falliþ, þan a mannes vertues failen.
?c1450   Life St. Cuthbert (1891) l. 6065   Fra he was vp ryght sett, he began his spirits to gett with in a litil stounde.
1563   T. Sackville in W. Baldwin et al. Myrrour for Magistrates (new ed.) Induct. xix   My spirits returnd, and then I thus begonne: [etc.].
a1586   Sir P. Sidney Arcadia (1590) i. i. f.3v   At length, opening his eyes, he gaue a great groane..for by that, they found not onely life, but strength of life in him. They therefore continued on their charitable office, vntil (his spirits being well returned,) hee..gate vp.
1617   F. Moryson Itinerary i. ii. ii. 118   At last feeling my spirits begin to faile me, I was glad to returne.
1670   I. Walton Life R. Hooker 110 in Lives   More he would have spoken, but his spirits failed him.
1701   N. Rowe Ambitious Step-mother i. i. 6   While I am, that ever will remain, And in my latest Spirits still survive.
1793   W. Cowper To Mary ii   Thy spirits have a fainter flow, I see thee daily weaker grow.
1817   J. Riley Loss Amer. Brig Commerce vii. 63   My spirits fainted within me, and I fell to the earth deprived of every sensation.
1885   G. W. Melville In Lena Delta xiv. 190   At sight of the red cheerful sparks shooting up from the cold, white waste,..my spirits revived, and I sat up on the sled.
1911   Med. Rec. (N.Y.) 24 June 1145/2   The patient's spirits had risen; she could be allowed to leave the bed and spend some time on the lounge.

a1400—1911(Hide quotations)

 22. Alchemy.

 a. Each of the four substances mercury, sulphur, sal ammoniac, and orpiment. Now historical.These substances were considered to be the volatile components of metals (contrasted with non-volatile ‘bodies’), and to be responsible for the colour and certain other properties of types of metal. They played an important role in the theory and (attempted) practice of transmutation.

a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) iv. l. 2464   Of bodies sevene..With foure spiritz joynt withal Stant the substance of this matiere.
c1405  (c1395)    G. Chaucer Canon's Yeoman's Tale (Ellesmere) (1875) l. 822   The firste spirit quyk siluer called is The seconde Orpyment the thridde ywis Sal Armonyak and the ferthe Brymstoon.
a1500  (▸1471)    G. Ripley Compend of Alchemy (Ashm.) l. 1150 (MED)   Cogellacion be made in dyuersse wysse, of spirit, of bodys dyssoluyd into water clere, of salttes also.
a1550  (c1477)    T. Norton Ordinal of Alchemy (Sloane 1873) (1975) l. 3058 (MED)   This hete..is hete for to sublyme All the spiritis of the myne.
1652   tr. F. Raudorff in Five Treat. Philosophers Stone 48   If you aske, why is Mercury called a better spirit then others, as there are sulphur, orpiment, arsenici, salarmenic, all these are called spirits also..; but this Mercury is much subtiler and clearer or penetrative, then the other.
a1672   Earl of Sandwich tr. A. A. Barba Art of Metals (1674) i. viii. 29   Salt-Ammoniac..is one of those they call the four spirits, because the fire will convert them into smoak, and so they fly away.
1879   Folk-lore Rec. 2 154   Of these the four asterised substances are the four ‘spirits’.
1983   Stud. Eng. Lit. 1500–1900 23 203   Rafe is no more successful in learning the ‘four spirits’ and ‘seven bodies’ of alchemy than he was in conquering the points of the compass.

a1393—1983(Hide quotations)


b. Mercury. Obsolete.

[1605   T. Tymme tr. J. Du Chesne Pract. Chymicall & Hermeticall Physicke i. iv. sig. C4v   Man consisteth of Spirit, Soule, and body: as holy Writ testifieth.The Spirit..is represented by Mercurie: the Soule is represented by Sulphur: and the Body, by Salt.]
1661   R. Boyle Sceptical Chymist iv. 242   We see that sapidness and volatility are wont to denominate the Chymists Mercury or Spirit.
1725   I. Watts Logick i. ii. §2   The chemist makes spirit, salt, sulphur, water, and earth, to be their five elements.
1814   A. Rees Cycl. (1819) XXVIII. at Principle   The ancients..admitted five principles of bodies, which they call mercury or spirit, phlegm or water, sulphur or oil, salt, and earth.

1661—1814(Hide quotations)


 a. An essence, distilled extract, or alcoholic solution of a specified substance. Frequently in plural, esp. in later use. Now chiefly historical.spirit of amber, spirit of hartshorn, spirit of nitre, spirit of sal ammoniac, spirit of salt, spirit of sulphur, spirit of vitriol, spirit of wine, etc.: see the final element.Recorded earliest in spirit of wine.

a1475   Bk. Quinte Essence (1889) 2   Oure qui[n]ta essencia..hath .iij. names..brennynge watir, þe soule in þe spirit of wyn, & watir of lijf.
1608   T. Middleton Mad World, my Masters iii. sig. D4v   Mixed in a stone or glasse morter, with the spirit of Diamber.
1651   J. French Art Distillation iii. 66   Dissolve Salt-Armoniack in..spirit of Urine.
1651   J. French tr. J. R. Glauber Descr. New Philos. Furnaces i. 33   The spirit of Silk [L. Spiritus Serici]. After the same manner is there a spirit made of pieces of silke, which..is most excellent in wounds.
1700   T. Brown Amusem. Serious & Comical x. 117   To the Charms of Coffee, the wiser sort joyn'd Spirit of Clary, Usquebaugh, and Brandy.
1712   Boston News-let. 17 Mar. 2/2 (advt.)    To be sold by Mr. Zabdiel Boylston... The Spirit of Benjamin, sweet Powder, Oyl, and Pomatum for Hair.
1771   J. Woodforde Diary 30 Apr. (1924) I. 108   Some electuary for Aunt Parr, some spirit of Lavender for Aunt Anne.
1831   W. Scott Castle Dangerous vii, in Tales of my Landlord 4th Ser. IV. 187   Wilt thou take some refreshment?—or shall we go on without the spirit of muscadel?
1853   J. F. Royle Man. Materia Med. (ed. 2) 599   Spirit of Camphor... Dissolve Camphor..in Rectified Spirit.
1871   A. B. Garrod Essentials Materia Medica (new ed.) 149   Spirit of ether is employed in making the ethereal tincture of lobelia.
1902   R. J. Mecredy in A. C. Harmsworth et al. Motors & Motor-driving (Badminton Libr. of Sports & Pastimes) vii. 105   ‘Petrol Engine’ is a slang term for an engine driven by a series of explosions of a mixture of the vapour of a light spirit of petroleum with air.
1988   Insight Autumn 69/2   The Colonel..quacked himself up with tincture of bark, sal volatile and spirits of lavender.

a1475—1988(Hide quotations)


 b. A liquid obtained by distillation or containing volatile components extracted by distillation; an acid, fuel, solvent, alcoholic solution, etc., of this nature. Also as a mass noun and in plural: liquid of this nature, esp. that consisting of pure or diluted alcohol.Often (now chiefly historical) with of —— in names of particular substances: see 23a.bone spirit, methylated spirit, motor spirit, petroleum spirit, surgical spirit, white spirit, etc.: see the first element.

1559   P. Morwyng tr. C. Gesner Treasure of Euonymus 306   When that is drawne out, vrge the spirits of the Vitriol by litle and little, encreasing the fire more and more, til al ye spirits be ouer passed.
1612   B. Jonson Alchemist i. i. sig. B2   Haue I..Wrought thee to spirit, to quintessence, with paines Would twise haue wonne me the Philosophers worke?  View more context for this quotation
1651   J. French Art Distillation v. 139   Dissolve any sulphurous..metall..in Aqua fortis, or any other acid Spirit.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. (at cited word)   The Chymists are said to draw a Spirit from Sulphur, Salt and other Bodies, when they extract the Essence, or the subtilest Part thereof, by Distillation or otherwise.
a1774   O. Goldsmith Surv. Exper. Philos. (1776) I. 380   A solid that will swim in water, will sink in spirit.
1800   R. Southey in C. C. Southey Life & Corr. R. Southey (1850) II. 91   The head and hands were sent here; I have seen them in the Museum, in spirits.
1854   E. Ronalds & T. Richardson Knapp's Chem. Technol. (ed. 2) I. 289   In this manner, by one operation, spirit containing about 60 per cent. of alcohol is obtained.
1900   J. B. Cohen Pract. Org. Chem. 168   Crystals of hydrobenzamide..separate out, which may be recrystallised from spirit.
1940   Economist 30 Mar. 586/2   The 87-octane spirit is generally obtained by the addition of small quantities of tetra-ethyl lead to good-quality ‘straight-run’ petrol.
1945   Jrnl. Soc. Dyers & Colourists 61 325/1 (table)    Water-insoluble dyes for colouring oils, spirits, varnishes, etc.
1962   M. E. Murie Two in Far North ii. xii. 248   By George, the spirit's goin' down fast; she'll be thirty [below zero] at least before morning.
2005   A. De Pasquqale in M. M. Jordal Illicium, Pimpinella & Foeniculum 189   Anisated ammonia spirit, an ammoniacal, alcoholic solution containing 3% of anethol by volume is used orally.
2007   G. Hurley One Under xiii. 266   Security..had recently been strengthened after a break-in by an alcoholic in search of embalming spirit.

1559—2007(Hide quotations)


 c. Usually in plural. Strong distilled alcoholic liquor used for drinking, such as brandy, whisky, gin, and rum; (as a count noun) any particular kind of this.ardent spirits: see ardent adj. 2.

1663   in Compact with Charter & Laws of Colony of New Plymouth (1836) ii. 140   It is enacted by the Court that noe liquors bee sold..that shall exceed in prise six shillings the gallon except it bee English speritts.
1684   J. Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress 2nd Pt. ii. 67   He gave me also a piece of an Honey-comb, and a little Bottle of Spirits .  View more context for this quotation
1722   D. Defoe Moll Flanders 342   And then to observe the poor Creature preaching Confession and Repentance to me in the Morning, and find him drunk with Brandy and Spirits by Noon.
1743   S. Johnson Deb. Senate Lilliput in Gentleman's Mag. Nov. 579   It is not to be doubted, my Lords, but that Spirits will by this additional Duty be made one third Part dearer.
1813   H. Davy Elements Agric. Chem. iii. 120   All the common spirits may, I find, be deprived of their peculiar flavour by repeatedly digesting them with..charcoal and quicklime.
1833   H. Martineau Messrs. Vanderput & Snoek vi. 95   Every body agreed that spirits were the only safeguard against the perils of ditch water.
1841   C. Dickens Old Curiosity Shop i. xxi. 210   Quilp..drank three small glass-fulls of the raw spirit.
1984   Guardian (Nexis) 14 July   Anyone carrying an extra open bottle of wine or spirits could find themselves paying a fine and losing the bottle into the bargain.
2000   H. Stevenson Instr. for Visitors (2002) 137   All the band members..are incredibly skinny, despite the fact that they eat fry-ups and chip butties and drink spirits straight from the bottle.
2016   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 7 Feb. (Travel section) 7/4   Her son..invited me to sit outside with him to drink Zhumir, an Ecuadorean sugar cane spirit.

1663—2016(Hide quotations)


24. Dew, conceived of as a substance drawn out of the earth by the sun's rays. Obsolete. rare.

1567   J. Maplet Greene Forest iii. f. 103   Stellio the starred and speckled beast saith Plinie, liueth most by the dew of Heauen, and spirite of the earth.
1733   W. Ellis Chiltern & Vale Farming 200   The Exhalations of the Sun that draws up a moist Vapour from the Earth, by some, called the Spirit, by others, the Salt of the Earth.

1567—1733(Hide quotations)


a. A subtle or intangible element or principle in material things. Obsolete.

1626   F. Bacon Sylua Syluarum §98   The Spirits or Pneumaticalls, that are in all Tangible Bodies are scarce known.
1638   W. Rawley tr. F. Bacon Hist. Nat. & Exper. Life & Death 381   There is in every Tangible body a Spirit, covered and encompassed with the Grosser Parts of the Body.
1698   R. South 12 Serm. III. 171   In the Rain, it is not the bare Water that fructifies, but a secret Spirit, or Nitre descending with it.
a1722   E. Lisle Observ. Husbandry (1757) 218   The spirit of the straw is washed out by the rain.

1626—a1722(Hide quotations)


 b. A substance present in the atmosphere which sustains life. Now historical.Esp. in nitro-aerial spirit, vivifying spirit: cf. the first element.

1662   P. D. C. tr. N. Le Fèvre Compend. Body Chymistry I. i. iv. 41   They [sc. Plants] are buried too deep in the ground, and by this means deprived from that vivifying Spirit, by which they are animated, for they immediately die as if they were suffocated.
1674   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 9 104   The Nitro-aerial Spirit..doth sooner or later exacuate and make fluid the Salino-metallic parts.
?1790   J. Imison School of Arts (ed. 2) 106   Air that has lost its vivifying spirit is called damp..The dreadful effects of damps are known to such as work in mines.
1817   W. T. Brande Diss. Third. 25   The atmosphere, he observes, contains a certain nitro-saline matter, a spirit, vital, igneous, and fermentative, which exists in, and may be obtained from nitre; that it supports combustion, but is in itself incombustable.
1829   Chapters Physical Sci. 235   The oxygenous gas..is a kind of vivifying spirit or quality, which is necessary to continue the lives of animals.
1901   M. Foster Lect. Hist. Physiol. 187   This was in his view a fermentation set up between the combustible, sulphurous particles residing in the muscle, and the nitro-aereal spirit brought to it by the nerves.
1964   Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc. 54 44/1   In proper Latin..they [sc. the pores] are called ‘breathing holes’, spiramentum, because the vivifying spirit is conducted through them outside the body.
1994   W. R. Newman Gehennical Fire ii. 88   This is without a doubt the origin of John Mayow's (1641-1679) nitro-aerial spirit, a forerunner of oxygen in Mayow's theory of respiration.

1662—1994(Hide quotations)


26. Dyeing. In plural. A solution containing tin salts, used as a mordant for red dyes; = red spirit n. (b) at red adj. and n. Compounds 1f(c)(i). Obsolete.

1812   W. Martin Treat. Art dyeing Woollen Cloth Scarlet iii. 12   Solution of Tin, called also ‘Composition’, and by our dyers ‘Spirits’, is made by dissolving the purest grain Tin in Aqua Regia, or Nitro Muriatic Acid.
1877   Encycl. Brit. VII. 574/2   The so-called nitrate of tin (sometimes called ‘bowl spirits’, from being prepared in an earthenware bowl).
1916   Fibre & Fabric 8 Apr. 18/2   It will now be a good black, but must be raised with a pint of spirits in the same tub.

1812—1916(Hide quotations)



 P1. Phrases referring to the divine nature or essential power of God. Cf. sense 15. See also Holy Spirit n.

 a. the Spirit of God (or the Lord)    [after post-classical Latin spiritus Dei, spiritus Domini (Vulgate; compare quots. c1384, a1382)] : the divine nature or essential power of God, regarded as a creative, animating, or inspiring influence.

a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Isa. lxi. 1   The spirit of the Lord [L. spiritus Domini] [is] vp on me.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 1 Cor. ii. 11   What thingis ben of God, no man knowith, no but the spirit of God [L. Spiritus Dei].
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 7106   Sampson slou þat leon kene, Þe spirit of godd in him was sene.
a1425  (c1395)    Bible (Wycliffite, L.V.) (Royal) (1850) 1 Kings x. 6   The Spirit of the Lord schal skippe in to thee.
a1555   J. Bradford Two Notable Serm. (1574) sig. H.vi   You are accepted into Gods fauour,..& are endued with the good spirit of God, euen the seale & signe manuell of your election in Christ.
1611   Bible (King James) Judges xiii. 25   The Spirit of the Lord beganne to mooue him at times.
1841   R. C. Trench Notes Parables xiii. 220   The informing Spirit of God which prompts the works and quickens the faith.
1934   Pittsburgh Courier 15 Sept. ii. 2/5   The Spirit of the Lord has ordained me to tell everyone to pray.
2006   ‘D. B.’ New Way In iii. 37   There was much more to come—an abundant life, receipt of the spirit of God, acquittal from guilt, [etc.].

a1382—2006(Hide quotations)

 b. Phrases relating to the power of God acting as an inspiring or animating force on the believer.In later use chiefly in the language of Pentecostalists and other Christian charismatic and evangelical groups.

 (a) baptism in (also of, with, etc.) the Spirit and variants: (in early use) the grace imparted by the Holy Spirit, as distinct from the ceremony or rite of baptism with water; (later also) an experience subsequent to initiation into Christianity, frequently evidenced by speaking in ‘tongues’ (cf. glossolalia n.).With allusion to Mark 1:8 and parallel passages.

1534   W. Marshall tr. Erasmus Playne & Godly Expos. Commune Crede v. f. 123   A fore this there were the Selencianes, which dyd not receyue the water of baptyme, but onely the baptym of the spirite.
1652   F. Fullwood Churches & Ministery Eng. 15   You may conceive the Church invisible or visible: if invisible, here is a door to let you in, the baptism of the spirit and regeneration reall: if visible, here is another door for that too, the baptism of water, a regeneration visible.
1701   G. Whitehead Truth Prevalent ix. 118   Here (but in Self-contradiction) they grant, the Baptism of Water, and the Baptism of the Spirit, to be Two, and of different Kinds.
1814   Evangelical Mag. & Missionary Chron. Sept. 356/1   Does the Apostle speak of the baptism of the Spirit, or of water baptism?
1849   J. Belcher Baptists in Hist. All Relig. Denominations U.S. (ed. 2) 48/2   As the word of God mentions no other baptism in the Holy Ghost, than what took place at Pentecost..we have no warrant to expect the scriptural baptism of the Spirit in the present day.
1896   R. A. Torrey Baptism with Holy Spirit i. 20   The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon the believer,..imparting to him gifts not naturally his own, but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.
1972   R. A. Wilson tr. W. J. Hollenweger Pentecostals ii. 22   In a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, run by Charles Parham, speaking in tongues was recognized as a distinguishing characteristic of the baptism of the Spirit.
2010   Daily Tel. 5 Feb. 23/2   As a result he concluded that he had received ‘Baptism in the Spirit’, which linked him with the so-called neo-Pentecostal movement that was then spreading rapidly in North America.

1534—2010(Hide quotations)


 (b) to receive the Spirit : to be imbued with spiritual grace; (in later use spec.) to experience religious inspiration, esp. as evidenced by speaking in ‘tongues’.

?1535   tr. M. Luther Treat. Good Workes sig. b.iiii   Wytnesse saynte Paule to the Galatiens sayenge. Ye haue receyued the spyryte, not by youre good workes, but bycause ye haue byleued the worde of god.
a1665   J. Goodwin Πλήρωμα τὸ Πνευματικόv (1670) ii. 21   An utter incapacity of receiving the Spirit.
a1704   J. Locke Paraphr. & Notes Epist. Paul to Galatians (1705) iii. 20   That the blessing promised to Abraham might come on to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we who are Christians might believing receive the Spirit that was promised.
1842   Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star July 41/2   Mr. Baxter received the spirit on asking for it, without attending to the ordinances, and began to prophecy, whereas the scriptural way of attaining the gift of the Holy Ghost is, by baptism.
1902   Christian 11 Dec. 13/1   If we are born again, we have received the Spirit once for all.
1948   L. W. Brown in M. Warren Triumph of God vi. 154   There are..those who maintain that no man has truly received the Spirit unless he has spoken with tongues.
1990   Methodist Recorder 7 June 3/1   The people are to repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus the Messiah, and then they will have their sins forgiven and receive the spirit.
2003   Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) 14 June b5/6   I really believe that music sets people's minds and hearts to receive the Spirit as they worship God.

?1535—2003(Hide quotations)


 (c) to pray in (also by) the Spirit : to pray in accordance with the Holy Spirit's guidance or prompting, (in some Christian circles) using extemporary prayer and (in recent times) speaking in ‘tongues’. Hence prayer in the Spirit, praying in the Spirit.Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15, ‘I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also’ (King James Bible).

1540   L. Ridley Comm. vpon Sayncte Paules Epyst. to Ephesyans vi. sig. Q.1   He sheweth that we muste oftymes pray in the spyryte for this armour & be diligent & feruent in prayer feruently desyrynge of god this armoure.
1647   Mercurius Pragmaticus No. 2. 4   They have been so used to those set formes, that hold altogether impossible to pray by the spirit.
1671   R. McWard True Non-conformist 243   I might take notice of the inaccuracy of your expression, of prayingby the Spirit; whereas the Scripture-phrase, is, to worship in Spirit.
1708   T. Dorrington Disc. on Praying by Spirit 11   And therefore by praying in the Spirit here, must be meant hearty, earnest, and serious Prayer..: Praying with Reverence and godly Fear... This is praying in the Spirit, or by the Spirit, even the Spirit of Grace and Supplications.
1848   J. Brown Expository Disc. First Epist. Peter III. iii. 408   There is no prayer in the true sense of the word, but ‘prayer in the Spirit’.
1972   W. Samarin Tongues Men & Angels ii. 22   One person says that praying in tongues has become such a part of her life that she wakes up at night and her ‘mind is praying in the Spirit’.
2013   C. A. W. Wallace House of Prayer iii. 33   My cell leader said she believed that the Lord was saying that I should pray in the Spirit for about an hour every day.

1540—2013(Hide quotations)


 (i) to sing in the Spirit : to sing in what appears to be a language unknown to the singer, to sing in ‘tongues’ (cf. glossolalia n.).Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15, ‘I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also’ (King James Bible).

1833   H. Drummond Spirit in Mr. Baxter Tried by Script. 31   He took the child in his arms and blessed it, singing in the Spirit for some time over it.
1852   C. Hammond Light from Spirit World vii. 142   They sang in the spirit, and with the understanding, the words painted in gold colors on my banner.
1909   T. B. Barratt In Days of Latter Rain 98   One who is filled with the Spirit..gets visions, prophesies, sings in the Spirit, staggers under the overwhelming weight of the Glory.
1964   N. Bloch-Hoell Pentecostal Movement ii. 28   Mrs. Arthur..gives a striking account of angel visions and singing in the Spirit in perfect Latin followed by correct translation into English.
2000   S. Chan Pentecostal Theol. & Christian Spiritual Trad. (2003) iii. 84   The Pentecostal ascetics also ‘sing in the Spirit’.

1833—2000(Hide quotations)


 (ii) song in the Spirit: a song in what appears to be an unknown language.

1910   Evening News 14 June 3/2   Scarcely had the first hymn of praise commenced before it was found that some of the younger sisters were singing in the Spirit... The official interpreter..gave out the intelligence that these songs in the Spirit were perfectly intelligable to her.
1964   N. Bloch-Hoell Pentecostal Movement ii. 28   With regard to the ‘song in the Spirit’ and the testimony of the nuns it must be remembered that the latter was no first-hand evidence.
2017   @ProlificFids in twitter.com 15 Oct. (accessed 11 Apr. 2019)    I've reached the point where I'd rather hear songs in the Spirit than your regular actual songs.

1910—2017(Hide quotations)


 (e) to be slain in the Spirit : (among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians) to fall to the ground in a trance-like state during worship.Probably derived from the use by Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844–1924) of Isaiah 66:16 ‘For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many’ to describe this phenomenon; cf. also quot. 1918.

[1918   M. B. Woodworth-Etter Holy Ghost Serm. 189   A number of the saints standing close by were slain, and laid like dead under the mighty power of God.]
1986   New Covenant (Ann Arbor, Michigan) Mar. 29/2   Q:..Sometimes people faint when they're prayed with... What is this experience, and why does it happen? A: Being ‘slain in the Spirit’.., as this experience is sometimes called, refers to fallings as if being knocked down by some invisible force.
2006   A. Beaujon Body Piercing saved my Life iv. 79   Other manifestations of the second blessing including being ‘Slain in the Spirit’, a worship rite in which congregants come up to the front of the church (an ‘altar call’) and fall to the ground as the pastor pushes their foreheads.

1986—2006(Hide quotations)


 (f) the spirit moves me: see move v. 26b.


 c. Spirit of Truth (formerly also †Verity, †Soothness)  [after post-classical Latin Spiritus veritatis (Vulgate), Hellenistic Greek τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας (New Testament)] : the Holy Spirit.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) John xiv. 17   He schal ȝyue to ȝou another coumfortour, the spirit of treuthe [L. Spiritum veritatis].
c1400   Bk. to Mother (Bodl.) 151 (MED)   I schal preie my Fadur, and anoþer Spirit he schal ȝeue to ȝou..þe Spirit of soþnes.
1533   J. Frith Bk. answeringe Mores Let. sig. Mi   Yespirit of verytie, which is sent from God our Father through our saviour.., to lyghten our darke ignoraunce.
1551   Bible (Matthew's) John xv. 26   When the comforter is come,..whiche is the spirite of truthe [Gk. τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας].
1645   H. Burton Vindiciæ Veritatis 32   There be in Parliament and Assembly, at least some true Nathaniels and Stephens, filled with the Holy ghost, and so many armies of prayers in the Spirit daily sent up to heaven, to bring down that Spirit of truth upon them.
1684   F. Bernard Christian Duty xi. 63   God gives you not the spirit of Aristotle, Cicero, Hypocrates, but his own Spirit, the Spirit of Verity.
1776   A. Serle Horæ Solitariæ 289   The Spirit of Truth evidently anointed his [sc. Christ's] Manhood by the Profluence of his Grace.
1789   Hieroglyphick iii. 18   The Spirit of Truth is pleading with all Flesh, the resisters, the dispisers shall be slain, and the slain of the Earth shall be many.
a1817   T. Dwight Theol. (1818) IV. cxxxvi. 511   Some persons..appear to feel, as if regeneration could not be absolutely attributed to the Spirit of Truth, unless it was accomplished, altogether, without the employment of Means.
1904   L. Wiener tr. L. Tolstoy Critique Dogmatic Theol. v. in tr. Compl. Wks. XIII. 176   These words..prove the consubstantiality of the Holy Ghost with God: the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father.
1987   Jrnl. Relig. Ethics 15 113   The resources for the spiritual fulfillment of the golden rule are found in Jesus' intimate relationship with the individual through the Spirit of Truth.

c1384—1987(Hide quotations)

 P2. in spirit.

 a. Originally: in a prophetic trance or state of inspiration. In later use chiefly in weakened sense: in the mind's eye, inwardly. Cf. sense 4a.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Royal) (1850) Apoc. iv. 2   Anoon I was in spirit [L. in spiritu], and lo! a seete was put in heuen, and on the seete oon sittinge.
1526   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection iii. sig. a*viiv   Seyng in spirit the immutable or vnchaungeable truthe of god.
1582   Bible (Rheims) Rev. i. 10   I was in spirit [L. in spiritu] on the Dominical day.
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost xi. 406   In Spirit perhaps he also saw Rich Mexico.., And Cusco in Peru.  View more context for this quotation
1798   W. Wordsworth Lines Tintern Abbey in W. Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge Lyrical Ballads 204   How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee O sylvan Wye!
1850   Ld. Tennyson In Memoriam xvii. 28   For I in spirit saw thee move Thro' circles of the bounding sky.  View more context for this quotation
2006   M. Atwood Moral Disorder 26   Already in spirit I was off and running—to the movies, to the skating rinks, to the swooning blue-lit dances.

c1384—2006(Hide quotations)


 b. As an unseen presence, typically one providing encouragement or moral support.In early use denoting an unseen but real presence; later chiefly denoting the felt presence of someone not physically present.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 1 Cor. v. 3   Sothli I absent in body, but present in spirit, now haue demyd as present..him that thus hath wrouȝt.
1581   W. Fulke Reioynder Bristows Replie 435   Those that vpon necessarie cause were absent, were present in spirite.
1656   E. Bradshaw Conviction J. Naylor 20   I say Christ was present even there in spirit, for so he is alwayes.
1797   Time Piece 6 Sept. 306/1   There are many among you, who travail with us in spirit for the advancement of the cause of truth.
1802   N.-Y. Missionary Mag. 8 Jan. 296   Though absent from his brethren in body, he was present with them in spirit.
1941   ‘Faugh-a-Ballagh’ 34 82/1   With all our best wishes to all comrades in arms..who, though unable to serve, are with us in spirit.
2014   Scottish Daily Mail 17 May 16/5   Whenever some mad-haired old bag strides round an auditorium and asks if the name John means anything to those assembled be assured: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is there in spirit.

c1384—2014(Hide quotations)


 P3. Proverb. the spirit is willing (also ready) but the flesh is weak and variants: used to express a failure to live up to good intentions.Originally with allusion to Matthew 26:41.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Matt. xxvi. 41   The spirit is redy, bote the flesh seik.
1549   H. Latimer 2nd Serm. before Kynges Maiestie 7th Serm. sig. Cc.iiiiv   He was fayne to saye to hys dyscyples..Watche & pray, the spirit is ready, but the fleshe is weake.
1602   F. Trigge True Catholique 42   The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weake: as though he should say, I know that you haue a willing mind, but the weaknes of the flesh hinders your willingnes.
1703   Christian's Duty 175   Lord, establish thou me with thy free Spirit, whereby I may stand in the hour of Temptation..that the Spirit may be willing, though the flesh be weak.
1853   Friends' Intelligencer 23 July 274/2   I would endeavor to follow whithersoever he would lead; but nature was very weak, though the spirit was willing, and there was still a disposition to keep back part of the price of the land.
1925   A. Huxley Those Barren Leaves iii. xiii. 269   The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Weak in pain, but weaker still.., more inexcusably weak, in pleasure.
2009   Clovis (New Mexico) News Jrnl. 11 June 11/4   Sagittarius... The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. There is a good chance you will start something that takes much dedication and then leave it in shambles.

c1384—2009(Hide quotations)


 P4. in spirit and (in) truth  [after post-classical Latin in spiritu et veritate, Hellenistic Greek ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ] : spiritually and genuinely. Chiefly in the context of prayer or worship. Cf. sense 4.With reference or allusion to John 4:23: ‘The houre commeth, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit, and in trueth’ (King James Bible).

c1449   R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 196   God is a spirit, and it bihoueth hem that worschipen him to worschipe in spirit and trouthe.
1485–6   W. Caxton tr. Laurent Ryal Bk. cxlvii. sig. x.vi   Who wyl praye god and haue hys requeste graunted, hym byhoueth that he praye in spyryte and in trouthe.
1529   T. More Dyaloge Dyuers Maters i. f. xv/2   And in yt place as a place plesant to god dyd they pray in spyryte and in truth.
1654   J. Naylor Few Words Disc. conc. Quakers 17   The Scriptures-worship is not in Idolls Temples, Formes and Letters; but in spirit and in truth.
1742   W. Law Appeal to All that Doubt iii. 211   Those Mysteries that are only to be approached by those that are of a pure Heart, and who worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
a1842   T. Arnold in A. P. Stanley Life & Corr. T. Arnold (1844) II. App. A. 344   Whether while we worshipped Thee in form, we worshipped Thee in spirit and in truth.
1920   J. Galsworthy In Chancery iii. xiv. 328   At this moment he knew with certainty that he would never be near to her in spirit and in truth, nor she to him.
2005   Nelson (Brit. Columbia) Daily News (Nexis) 20 May 14   As we worship in spirit and in truth, we will individually and collectively be transformed into a genuine dwelling place for our God.

c1449—2005(Hide quotations)


 P5. to take spirit : to summon up courage; to derive encouragement or comfort from something; = to take heart at heart n., int., and adv. Phrases 3k(a). Cf. sense 6a. rare.

c1450   Alphabet of Tales (1904) I. 57   So at þe laste he tuke his spiritt vnto hym.
1643   in Clarendon's Hist. Rebellion (1703) II. vi. 134   They have of late taken spirit, and begun to speak big words.
1811   Lady's Monthly Museum Sept. 171   He encouraged me to take spirit, and convinced me, by his arguments, that adversity was indeed the best school of philosophy.
2017   Morning Bull. (Rockhampton, Queensland) (Nexis) 12 Sept. 2   The enslaved African Americans..took spirit in the music's uplifting messages of freedom and togetherness.

c1450—2017(Hide quotations)

 P6. spirit of the world.

 a. Preoccupation with worldly or materialistic concerns, regarded as an animating force or principle, esp. as contrasted with the spirit of God and concentration on spiritual matters; the spirit of the secular world. Cf. world-spirit n. (a) at world n. Compounds 8.

1528   W. Tyndale That Fayth Mother of All Good Workes f. xxii   If yt ye do no thinge but that ye world doth, and they which have the spirite of ye worlde, wherebye shall ye knowe yt ye are the sonnes of God & beloved of God, more than the world?
1648   J. Sparrow tr. J. Böhme Descr. Three Princ. ix. 66   When disobedience entred, they were driven out, and saw that they were naked: for at that instant the spirit of the world caught them, in which there was meere anguish,..corruptibility and death.
1700   Anat. Simon Magus i. 7   That Primitive Fervour began to decay, and the Spirit of the World to take hold of the luke-warm Clergy.
1850   J. Jackson Spirit of World & Spirit which is of God 29   May the spirit of the world be subdued and cast out by the Spirit which is of God.
1934   Irish Monthly 62 470   The spirit of the world has always been in sharp conflict with the spirit of Christ.
2016   Univ. Wire (Carlsbad) 16 Nov.   You can have people coming to Mass with more of a mind for the spirit of the world than for the Spirit of God.

1528—2016(Hide quotations)


 b. An animating substance, supposedly a blend of salt, sulphur, and mercury, held to permeate living beings and their surroundings; cf. spiritus mundi n.   Now historical.

1605   T. Tymme in tr. J. Du Chesne Pract. Chymicall & Hermeticall Physicke Ep. Ded. sig. A3   That spirit of Life (which may truely be called the spirit of the world)..moueth..in all creatures, giving them existence in three, to wit, salt, sulphure, and Mercury.
1651   J. French Art Distillation v. 107   In the element of Water there is a great plenty of the Spirit of the world,..and..this Spirit hath three distinct substances, viz. Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury.
1680   R. Boyle Sceptical Chymist (new ed.) ii. 112   A certain Spirituous Substance..by some mistaken for the Spirit of the World Corporify'd.
1931   J. C. Locke tr. É.-J. Grillot de Givry Witchcraft, Magic & Alchemy (1971) iii. i. 350   Just as the spirit of the Lord..moved upon the face of the waters, so must float over the waters of the athanor the spirit of the world, the spirit of life which the alchemist must be skilful enough to master.
1994   P. M. Rattansi & A. Clericuzio Alchemy & Chem. 16th & 17th Cent. iii. 77   The way to prepare a solvent of gold by means of the spirit of the world was the subject of a conference that Oldenburg attended in Paris.

1605—1994(Hide quotations)


 P7. spirit of anise: a distilled extract of aniseed, or (in later use chiefly) an alcoholic solution of oil of anise, used as a herbal medicine; (occasionally also) an alcoholic drink consisting of the distilled extract with added sugar.

1684   W. Salmon Iatrica i. iv. 198/2   Take..spirit of Anise, half an ounce: Oyl of Sugar, six drams: Balsam of Sulphur, one scruple: Oyl of Annise, six drops.
1725   R. Bradley Chomel's Dictionaire Œconomique at Anise   To Have the Essence and Spirit of Anise, take a Pound, or a Pound and a Quarter of Spanish Aniseed..with Six Pints of good Brandy.
1837   London Med. Gaz. 4 Feb. 682/2   A spirit of anise, sweetened with sugar, is sold by the liqueur dealers.
1915   B. Fantus Candy Medication vii. 45 (table)    Sweet Tablets of Charcoal... Charcoal, finely powdered... Spirit of anise, 10%... Spirit of coriander, 10% [etc.]
2010   L. Skidmore-Roth Mosby's Handk. Herbs & Nat. Suppl. (ed. 4) 31   Dosages... Adult topical: 5%-10% concentration essential oil, applied prn; spirit of anise 0.25-0.50 tsp (1:10 dilution in alcohol), diluted.

1684—2010(Hide quotations)


 a. out of spirits: dispirited, dejected, depressed. Cf. out of sorts at sort n.2 14.

1745   London Evening-post 23–26 Nov.   Their Chiefs intend to give the Marshal Battle, before their forced Marches have worn them quite out of Spirits.
1779   J. Warner in J. H. Jesse G. Selwyn & his Contemp. (1844) IV. 259   [She] is..so out of spirits, that she is cruelly afraid she shall never live till her dear master's return.
1838   E. Bulwer-Lytton Alice I. i. i. 10   Who can be out of spirits in such weather?
1860   J. Brown Lett. (1907) 137   I am..somehow out of spirits.
1907   G. B. Shaw John Bull's Other Island iv. 94   You seem rather out of spirits... You havnt got neuralgia, have you?
1980   Titusville (Pa.) Herald 29 May 9/3   Pisces..You may start the day feeling tired and a little out of spirits.

1745—1980(Hide quotations)


 b. in spirits: in a cheerful mood; animated, elated, happy. Now somewhat archaic.In quot. 1747   perhaps punning on the alcoholic connotations of spirit (see sense 23c).

1747   B. Hoadly Suspicious Husband iv. i. 48   Drunk! no! I am not drunk—Tipsy, perhaps, with my good Fortune—Merry, and in Spirits.
1766   O. Goldsmith Vicar of Wakefield II. xiii. 221   His time is pretty much taken up in keeping his relation..in spirits.
1826   B. Disraeli Vivian Grey II. iv. iii. 189   I suppose he's quite in spirits at your success?
1859   C. Dickens Tale of Two Cities ii. v. 58   Up one minute and down the next; now in spirits and now in despondency!
1944   G. Heyer Friday's Child xxi. 243   George shrugged his shoulders. ‘Do as you please! I don't know what should have happened to put you in spirits. When last I saw you—.’
2003   Gaz. (Colorado Springs) 11 Apr. g5/1   It's good to see him back in spirits.

1747—2003(Hide quotations)


 P9. to enter (also get) into the spirit of : to participate wholeheartedly (in an event, occasion, situation, etc., esp. one of celebration and festivity); to act in accordance with the prevailing (typically cheerful and enthusiastic) mood.Frequently in to enter (also get) into the spirit of things .

1771   T. Smollett Humphry Clinker III. 157   He must be a Goth and a barbarian, if he did not enter into the spirit of such a happy and humorous contrivance.
1844   tr. L. Faucher Manchester in 1844 8   Glasgow had, no less than Manchester, entered into the spirit of this industrial revolution.
1910   N.Y. Times 19 Feb. 13/2   The freshmen seem to have gotten into the spirit of things.
1961   J. Dawson Ha-Ha (1962) 53   We soon had our heads together..mapping out my itinerary, Mother really entering into the spirit of it.
1991   T. Mitchell Blood Sport ii. 57   This might have been all to the good if the Spanish upper classes had entered fully into the spirit of the Enlightenment and had set out to renovate and rationalize every aspect of their benighted land.
2017   Times (Nexis) 20 Apr. (T2 section) 7   The men-hens entered into the spirit of things admirably, turning up in skirts and adorned with glittery tat.

1771—2017(Hide quotations)


 P10. colloquial (originally U.S.). that's the spirit: expressing approval of a person's courage, determination, resolution, etc.

1853   Decatur Press (Greensburg, Indiana) 11 Nov.   The ‘American’ editor was gone to the city, to lay in new type, engage a city correspondent, and make arrangements for further improvement in his paper. That's the spirit.
1871   Davenport (Iowa) Daily Gaz. 17 Mar.   The Republicans of Rock Island will hold a meeting..to organize a club and perfect their organization. That's the spirit.
1930   M. Allingham Myst. Mile xxvii. 272   ‘I was ashamed that he should be..in my service.’ ‘That's the spirit,’ said Campion.
1974   G. F. Newman Price ii. 70   ‘I'm absolutely certain I'll be completely vindicated.’ ‘That's the spirit.’
2005   H. Mantel Beyond Black vii. 226   Knew you'd find me, knew you would, that's the spirit.

1853—2005(Hide quotations)


 P11. spirit of place  [compare classical Latin genius locī  genius loci n.] : the characteristic atmosphere and influence of a particular place. Cf. genius loci n. 2.

1899   A. Meynell Spirit of Place i. 2   The spirit of place, which is to be seen in the shapes of the fields and the manner of the crops, to be felt in a prevalent wind..calls out and peals in the cathedral bells.
1918   D. H. Lawrence in Eng. Rev. Nov. 319   All art partakes of the Spirit of Place in which it is produced.
1981   Sunday Tel. 25 Jan. 30/2   Of even the great cathedral of Canterbury Hilaire Belloc wrote with deep sadness for a spirit of place sought but not found.
2015   M. Newton Victorian Fairy Tales (2016) Introd. p. xv   In Kipling's writing,..Puck stands as an ever-present embodiment of the spirit of place.

1899—2015(Hide quotations)



 C1. Compounds relating to senses in branches I.   V., esp. branches I.   and II.
 a. As a modifier.

 (a) With the sense ‘of or relating to a spirit or spirits; of a spiritual nature’.Some examples were originally used specifically in the context of spiritualism (see Compounds 1a(b)) but now have a wider application.

a1637   B. Jonson Tale of Tub iv. vi. 101 in Wks. (1640) III   Helpe, helpe, a legion—Spirit legion, Is in the barne! in every straw a Divell.
1662   H. Hibbert Syntagma Theologicum 127   Soul-light is not enough to make us truly wise, but there must also be spirit-light.
1778   Saberna 12   Seek out some lone sequesterment to dwell, Where spirit-shapes repair at dewy eve.
1844   E. A. Poe in Graham's Mag. Mar. 142/1   During the swell of the organ, the spirit-voice of the deceased addresses itself to the murderer.
1865   M. E. Braddon Sir Jasper iii   Shadowy as those spirit-hands of which we hear so much nowadays.
1874   ‘G. Eliot’ College Breakfast Party in Macmillan's Mag. July 167   The Church as..fount of spirit force.
1915   W. B. Yeats Reveries xiv. 70   Somnambulistic country girls..become mediums for some genuine spirit-mischief, surrendering to their desire for the marvellous.
1936   E. Sitwell Victoria of Eng. i. 20   According to Mr Owen's account, the Duke returned.., after death,..in order to confide matters of importance to him... These spirit-visits must, one imagines, have been the result of the Duke's interest in minor details.
a1957   R. Campbell tr. A. de Campos in Coll. Poems (1960) III. 138   Which, once constructed, announce themselves As Real-Things, Spirit-Things, or Entities of the Stone-Soul, Made ours at certain moments by root-sensations.
2016   Reading (Pa.) Eagle (Nexis) 5 Mar.   The rest of the film follows Ian's journey in which he becomes more open to the spirit sense.

a1637—2016(Hide quotations)


 (b) In the context of spiritualism (spiritualism n. 5), denoting phenomena believed to be caused by incorporeal spirits, objects believed to be influenced by such spirits, the beliefs and practices of those attempting to communicate with such spirits, etc.

1850   Indiana State Jrnl. (Indianapolis) 11 July   None ought to be astonished at the new evidences, which the success of the spirit knockings furnishes, of the prevalence of human credulity.
1858   W. M. Wilkinson (title)    Spirit drawings; a personal narrative.
1867   J. H. Powell (title)    Mediumship:..with brief instructions for the formation of spirit-circles.
1893   Fortn. Rev. Jan. 125   Can a ghost be photographed? Are all the spirit-photos frauds?
1928   Manch. Guardian 25 Jan. 6/7   Other tricks exposed were the methods of writing spirit messages on a slate, of touching people with spirit hands, and of making spirit photographs.
1995   Maclean's (Toronto) 26 June 41   Mr. King had not been dead a fortnight before a statement to that effect was published in the spiritualist weekly Psychic News. His old friend, the late Duchess of Hamilton, in an interview, said Mr. King had always sought spirit guidance in affairs of the state.
2018   Canad. Jrnl. Communication 43 1   Practices discussed as supernatural include table rapping and table tipping, levitation, seances, spirit manifestations, clairvoyance, automatic writing or drawing, spirit photography, and mesmerism.

1850—2018(Hide quotations)


 b. With other nouns, with the sense ‘that is both a spirit and a ——’, as in spirit-bride, spirit-wind, etc.

1651   J. F. tr. H. C. Agrippa Three Bks. Occult Philos. ii. lv. 328   For what do these verses seem to mean, then that the world should not only have a spirit soul, but also to partake of the divine mind.
1833   Liverpool Mercury 18 Jan. 17/1 (advt.)    This present Friday..will be performed..the Spirit Bride and the Magi's Daughter.
1838   W. L. Alexander tr. G. Billroth Comm. Epist. Paul to Cor. II. (1 Cor. xv. 42-44) 112   What is subjected to earthly death is only the soul-body, the principle of natural life; at the coming of Christ, however, it will be raised a spirit-body.
1839   P. J. Bailey Festus 50   Have I not heard thee hint of spirit-friends? Where are they now?
1841   S. C. Hall & A. M. Hall Ireland I. 192   A belief in the existence of the spirit-chieftain.
1845   G. Murray Islaford 186   The spirit-lady soars away.
1845   P. J. Bailey Festus (ed. 2) 119   There are spirit-rulers of all worlds.
1848   P. J. Bailey Festus (ed. 3) 336   It will bear the gaze Of all the star souls and the spirit stars Which will the living land of light indwell.
1850   E. B. Browning Seraphim (new ed.) i, in Poems (new ed.) I. 116   Doth the Spirit-wind Blow white those waters?
1900   Month Jan. 96   For ages..these wild people had believed in spirit-guardians, and also in spirit-enemies.
1906   D. A. Huebsch tr. O. D. D. Pfleiderer Christian Origins ii. 172   The heavenly spirit-being which appears in Buddha and other redemptory personages is designated as ‘the great man’.
1961   N. Roy Black Albino (1989) iii. 73   Give these heads to your dancers, and the skeleton head of the spirit monster must be impaled on a pole.
2010   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 20 Aug. c22/4   Baule sculptures of spirit-spouses, embodying the significant others each of us has in the metaphysical realm.
2016   L. Erdrich LaRose 227   He..whispered in her ear. I got some spirit helpers.

1651—2016(Hide quotations)


 c. With present participles, agent nouns, and (occasionally) verbal nouns, forming compounds in which spirit expresses the object of the underlying verb, as in spirit-charmer, spirit-crushing, spirit-draining, spirit-hunter, spirit-lifting, spirit-monger, spirit-rousing, etc.

1606   J. Sylvester tr. G. de S. Du Bartas Deuine Weekes & Wks. (new ed.) ii. iii. 56   It is the spirit-inspiring Spirit.
1650   ‘R. Burthall’ Old Bridle 16   I say beware of these spirit-mongers; that their fair pretences, beguile you not.
1709   Ld. Shaftesbury Moralists ii. v. 143   In Ghostly Company of Spirit-hunters, Witch-finders [etc.].
1777   R. Potter tr. Æschylus Choephoræ in tr. Æschylus Tragedies 323   Bitter constraint and spirit-sinking fear.
1798   S. T. Coleridge Fears in Solitude 1   O 'tis a quiet spirit-healing nook.
1840   E. A. Poe Ligeia in Tales of Grotesque & Arabesque I. 173   An airy and spirit-lifting vision.
1858   T. Guthrie Christ & Inheritance Saints (1859) 20   The same spirit-freeing words.
1877   J. E. Carpenter tr. C. P. Tiele Outl. Hist. Relig. ii. 29   The magicians, soothsayers, and spirit-charmers.
1925   Amer. Anthropologist 27 212   The shaman is a spirit-hunter just in the same way as the spirit is a man-hunter.
1982   N.Y. Times (Nexis) 18 Apr. 16   Witch doctor, a common translation, is far too lurid to describe the harmonious wisdom of these Spirit Diviners.
2011   N.Y. Rev. Bks. 13 Jan. 60/2   The bureaucratization of scholarship in the humanities is simply spirit-crushing.
2015   Radio Times 9 May (South/West ed.) 130/1   It's happened to us all: getting stuck with someone who is so dull or spirit-draining that feigning a life-threatening malaise seems to be the only likely way out.

1606—2015(Hide quotations)

 d. With past participles, forming adjectives.

 (a) As a modifier, with the sense ‘of or by the spirit; by spirits’, as in spirit-baptized, spirit-guided, spirit-haunted, etc.

1602   W. Fulbecke Pandectes Ep. to Rdr. sig. A2v   The valiant Persians, the spirit-guided Hebrewes, the prudent Grecians.
a1644   F. Quarles Solomons Recantation (1645) xii. 59   And what his spirit-prompted pen did write Was truth it self, and most exact upright.
1851   Cleveland (Ohio) Herald 29 Mar.   Spirit Rappings... On the evening of the 21st of March the spirit-moved circle met at the house of Mr. Courtney.
1903   R. C. Morgan Outpoured Spirit viii. 53   By coming unto Jesus..as members of the Spirit-baptized Church.
2003   Independent 18 Oct. i. 2/6   In its statement..the New Hampshire diocese said its members had ‘faithfully and prayerfully considered and followed a Spirit-led process for the election of our new bishop.’

1602—2003(Hide quotations)


 (b) As a modifier, with the sense ‘in spirit’, as in spirit-broken, spirit-crushed, spirit-fallen, etc.

a1628   F. Greville Life of Sidney (1651) v. 60   If not with abrupt, and spirit-fall'n tolleration, yet with that invisible web of connivencie.
a1657   G. Daniel Trinarchodia: Henry V ccxxxvii, in Poems (1878) IV. 160   Stung with the Aspiche of invadeing feare, Or Spirit-froze, bound vp in bloodlesse veines.
1792   G. Colman Surrender of Calais ii. 35   Disappointment in my life's best hopes so feeds upon my life, and wears me inward that I am nearly spirit broken.
1839   P. J. Bailey Festus 268   See where she flies, spirit-torn, round the heavens.
1859   J. H. Ingraham Pillar of Fire i. xxv. 423   [The queen] seems heart-broken, spirit-crushed!
1922   D. H. Lawrence Fantasia of Unconscious v. 75   We are sympathy-rotten, and spirit-rotten, and idea-rotten.
1971   Church Hist. 40 99   Then, like other Ranters, he [sc. Abiezer Coppe] compares himself to the spirit-stricken Nebuchadnezzar.
1984   tr. A. V. C. Ramalingam in Jrnl. South Asian Lit. 19 17   Starvelings, poor, too proud to beg and spirit-broken, broke me.

a1628—1984(Hide quotations)


 e. In various other types of compound, as in spirit-pure, spirit-tongued, spirit-winged, etc. Chiefly poetic.

1817   P. B. Shelley Laon & Cythna xii. xxxviii. 269   The stream..faster bare The spirit-winged boat.
1855   R. Browning Statue & Bust in Men & Women I. 157   A pale brow spirit-pure.
1902   T. Stickney Dramatic Verses 28   We climbed the stair, a sick moon-gazer I Beneath her white and spirit-wingèd moon.
1969   ‘H. MacDiarmid’ Compl. Poems (1994) II. 1129   His was..The spirit-tongued Echo of Prometheus Unbound.

1817—1969(Hide quotations)


  spirit animal   n. (in the context of spiritualism and shamanism) a supernatural animal, esp. one which acts as a spirit guide or guardian; (in later use in slightly weakened sense) an animal which is perceived to embody the traits, characteristics, and qualities which an individual has or aspires to have; (in extended trivial use) a person or thing (especially a celebrity or fictional character) that reflects one’s innermost personality.

1873   D. D. Lum Spiritual Delusion i. ii. 47   Different answers have been given as to whether spirit-animals exist in the spirit world.
1895   Light 5 Jan. 10/1   A clairvoyant friend sees spirit animals around us here, and also in the spirit spheres.
1927   U. Holmberg Mythol. all Races IV. 507   This spirit-animal is said to appear to the shaman at the most three times in his life.
1973   Horn Bk. Mag. Feb. 49   He..talked about the Indian belief that each individual has a spirit-animal serving him as a guide.
2005   Time Out N.Y. 10 Mar. 125/4   Michael Gira..became something of a spirit animal for the band during the recording.
2015   Straits Times (Singapore) (Nexis) 7 Sept.   She considers the cow her spirit animal. ‘They are peace-loving, focused and nurturing.’

1873—2015(Hide quotations)


  Spirit baptism   n.  [compare earlier water baptism n. at water n. Compounds 7] (in early use) the grace imparted by the Holy Spirit, as distinct from the ceremony or rite of baptism with water; (later also) an experience subsequent to initiation into Christianity, frequently evidenced by speaking in ‘tongues’ (cf. glossolalia n.); = baptism in the Spirit at Phrases 1b(a).

1648   W. Dell Βαπτισμῶν διδαχή 12   It is not Water but Spirit Baptisme that makes us Christians, and Water Baptisme hath been an unlawfull blending or mixing of the Church and World together.
1796   P. Werden Lett. to Friend: Remarks Pamphlet J. Scott v. 31   Should we..admit this to be spirit baptism, it proves too much, for the ark gives no natural life, nor wrought any natural change in any of those that were saved by it.
1854   Whig Press (Middletown, N.Y.) 11 Oct.   They must receive a new birth, a spirit baptism, else in entering the sanctuary they but pollute it.
1964   N. Bloch-Hoell Pentecostal Movement vii. 142   Glossolalia, in connection with the Spirit baptism, was generally believed to be a permanent Gift of Grace.
2014   Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.) 14 Sept. b5/2   Officials worried about the decline in messages in tongues—or spirit baptism—at a general council meeting this month.

1648—2014(Hide quotations)


  spirit communication   n. communication from or with a spirit or spirits; an instance of this.

1850   New Albany (Indiana) Daily Ledger 10 Sept. (advt.)    The Knockers in Rochester..comprehending the Rise and Progress of the mysterious noises in Rochester..generally received as spirit communications.
1960   W. Naylor Silver Birch Anthol. 7   The uncertain art of continuous spirit communication.
2005   M. Roach Spook viii. 206   William O'Neil, who had a taste for the paranormal and a lab full of oscillators and ultrasonic receivers, developed Spiricom, a device for spirit communication.

1850—2005(Hide quotations)


  spirit doctor   n. (chiefly with reference to animistic belief systems) a traditional healer or shaman; cf. witch doctor n. 1b.

1850   Jrnl. Indian Archipel. & Eastern Asia 4 594   Native remedies have failed to cure him, and ere his failing strength desert him, he sends for the ‘spirit-doctor’.
1936   Discovery June 187/1   The would-be spirit-doctor, who must have what the African regards as a faculty for ‘seeing spirits’—we might term it clairvoyancy.
2014   Nova Religio 18 30   Although the spirit doctor continued to offer diagnoses and prescriptions for ailments, he insisted that the real power to heal came from the sitters.

1850—2014(Hide quotations)


  spirit-filled adj. (esp. among Evangelical and Charismatic Christians) imbued with spiritual grace (regarded as the complete presence of the Holy Spirit).

1854   W. Graham Jordan & Rhine 384   The Spirit of God filled him and led him into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil, that we might see how a Spirit-filled man can resist and triumph over the assaults of the tempter.
1936   J. Brice Pentecost xiii. 226   The prayer-life of the Spirit-filled believer is transformed through his new apprehension of the Father.
2012   Church Times 11 May 14/5   There is a challenge in every generation to distinguish between tradition, the living stream of Spirit-filled wisdom, and traditionalism.

1854—2012(Hide quotations)


  spirit guide   n. (esp. in the context of spiritualism) a supernatural being believed to provide protection and advice to a person; cf. Compounds 1a(b).

1834   N.-Y. Mirror 31 May 377/2   ‘Let me inform thee,’ continued the spirit-guide, as they advanced joyfully towards the gateway of the hall of beauty, ‘that the sixty thousand maids..are such as died on earth of a broken heart.’
1877   H. P. Blavatsky Isis Unveiled II. ii. 118   A medium must be passive; and if a firm believer in his ‘spirit-guide’ he will allow himself to be ruled by the latter.
1982   E. Jenkins Shadow & Light xxii. 172   A matter between him and his spirit-guides, not one with which human beings had anything to do.
2015   Blackpool Gaz. (Nexis) 17 June   Helen Chadwick acts as a channel for spirit guides, angels and loved ones.

1834—2015(Hide quotations)


  spirit healer   n.  [after spirit healing n.] a person who practises spirit healing.In earlier use as an unfixed collocation with the sense ‘a person who or thing which heals the spirit’ (cf. Compounds 1c).

1880   Protestant Standard (Sydney) 6 Nov. 4/2   The influence of imagination..on certain cases is very well known to physicians... Spirit healers, as well as ecclesiastical impostors, know this well.
1948   Scotsman 12 July 3/1   A 17-year-old Kirkintilloch girl who..had never been able to walk, was one of a number of persons who were treated by Mr Harry Edwards, a ‘spirit healer’ from London.
2015   Peninsula Gateway (Gig Harbor, Washington) (Nexis) 25 Feb.   Gig Harbor's good vibrations make it an ideal location for spirit healers, those who have been contacted and psychics to gather.

1880—2015(Hide quotations)


  spirit healing   n. (esp. in the context of spiritualism) healing attributed to the power of spirits.

1856   Spiritual Herald Feb. 3   Spirit hands, spirit voices, spirit healing.
1960   Spectator 28 Oct. 649   One of their [sc. Spiritualists'] chief interests is ‘spirit healing’; that is, any healing that is brought about by a non-human agency.
1995   Fortean Times June 61/1   The ‘wondrous events’ in question here are mainly parapsychological in nature, ranging through..apparitions, near-death experiences, firewalking, psychic surgery and spirit-healing.

1856—1995(Hide quotations)


  spirit land   n. a non-physical realm in which incorporeal or disembodied spirits have their existence; = spirit world n.

1829   Cabinet Instr., Lit., & Amusem. 25 July 86   One mighty groan spoke the departure of the Briton's soul to the spirit land.
1970   D. Brown Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee (1991) iv. 94   We want to go and meet our families in the spirit land.
2006   Plains Anthropologist 51 638/2   The deceased's soul, which had returned from the Spirit Land.

1829—2006(Hide quotations)


  spirit medium   n. a person believed to be in contact with the spirits of the dead and to communicate between the living and the dead; cf. medium n. 6b.

1851   Spirit Messenger (Springfield, Mass.) 12 July 394/1   Among the crowd the other day, there happened to be Dr. W. and his lady, accompanied by Mrs. Fish, the celebrated Spirit-medium.
1979   P. Niesewand Member of Club vii. 50   We've..got..to enlist the support of spirit mediums. The ancestral spirits are supposed to speak through them.
2005   N.Y. Rev. Bks. 22 Sept. 10/4   She has a direct link to Spirit World through her ‘familiar’, or spirit medium, Morris Warren.

1851—2005(Hide quotations)


  spirit monad   n. Philosophy an absolutely simple, non-physical entity; cf. monad n. 2a.

1874   Unitarian Rev. & Relig. Mag. Nov. 330   If you then asked what became of the Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms thus bereft of their companion Spirit-monads, he might say, that such atoms are, indeed, dead.
1972   Studia Leibnitiana 4 9   Phase C moves from the universal nature of wisdom to a definition of spirits which closely corresponds to descriptions of the spirit-monad as found in the Monadology.
2018   F. Tomkinson in S. Bergès & A. L. Siani Women Philosophers on Autonomy vi. 79   Creatures are composed of a mix of spirit monads and body monads.

1874—2018(Hide quotations)


  spirit money   n. (in religious ceremonies and funerals in China and Chinese contexts) imitation money, usually made of decorated paper, which is burnt (or otherwise used) as an offering to a deity or deceased person, in accordance with a traditional belief that the money will appease the deity or be used by the spirit of the deceased in the afterlife.  [Compare Chinese (Cantonese) míhng kéuhng   (see hell money n. at hell n. and int. Compounds 2).] Cf. paper money n. 2.

1887   Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1886 319   A fetich of some sort..is brought in, and spirit-money is burned before it.
1935   Chinese Recorder Sept. 550   A great deal of spirit money..is burnt for the spirits of the dead.
1967   Middletown Jrnl. (Ohio) 27 Aug. 31 (caption)    A sister of the dead man has a box of spirit money to throw along the way to buy the good will of spirits.
2006   A. Y. Chau Miraculous Response viii. 160   The pile of bright yellow spirit money burning like a bonfire.

1887—2006(Hide quotations)


  spirit photograph   n. a photograph that is claimed to show a spirit, esp. of a person who has died.Spirit photographs were first produced by U.S. photographer William H. Mumler (1832–84) by means of double exposure.

1862   Boston Investigator 12 Nov. 218/1   For some weeks past the Spiritual quidnuncs of Boston have been making a flourish of trumpets over what they call ‘spirit photographs’.
1968   Brit. Jrnl. Psychiatry 114 1474/2   After his wife's death in 1916 his interest in the problem of survival increased and we even find him attempting to obtain a spirit-photograph of his deceased wife.
2009   Daily Tel. 30 Oct. 12/7   The picture is one of 250 daguerreotypes, calotypes, negatives, x-rays and spirit photographs exhibited in..the British Library's first ever major photographic exhibition.

1862—2009(Hide quotations)


  spirit photography   n. photography which purports to show spirits, esp. of people who have died; the production of spirit photographs.

1862   Boston Investigator 12 Nov. 218/2   If you press a newly printed paper upon glass, you may leave a picture on the glass, which will be invisible, but which you can see in a strong light, and which can be transferred precisely as is done in the process of what is now called ‘spirit photography’.
1976   Sci. Amer. Apr. 29/1   The facts of spiritualism may prove spirit photography, but such apparent productions do not prove spiritualism.
2007   Your Family Tree July 41/2   The Victorian era saw the dawn of the science of photography, and this plus the vogue for Spiritualism made spirit photography popular.

1862—2007(Hide quotations)


  spirit-possessed adj. dominated or controlled by a spirit.

1840   Jephthah x. 116   The spirit-possessed Reubenite recoils from him.
1897   M. Kingsley Trav. W. Afr. 417   Sending out long white arms..and then drawing them back as if it were some spirit-possessed thing.
1994   N.Y. Times Bk. Rev. 16 Jan. 4/2   Candomblé and Santería..manifest the orishas through spirit-possessed dances and harness their vital power for the benefit of the community.

1840—1994(Hide quotations)


  spirit possession   n. domination or control of a person by a spirit; cf. sense 10b.

1854   Jrnl. Psychol. Med. & Mental Pathol. 7 14   The casting out or exorcism of these daimons was amongst the Jews also an ordinary practice... Allied to this notion of spirit possession, was that of having a ‘familiar’ spirit, or a spirit of prophecy, at command, a ‘python’, &c.
1989   R. Littlewood & M. Lipsedge Aliens & Alienists (ed. 2) ix. 202   Psychosis in Haiti is believed to be caused by spirit possession.
2009   I. Thomson Dead Yard xii. 143   Revival, one of the great religions of the Jamaican poor, incorporates elements of Low Church chant and hellfire hymnal with the spirit-possession and ‘healing lore’ of West African root doctors and shamans.

1854—2009(Hide quotations)


  spirit realm   n. a non-physical realm in which incorporeal or disembodied spirits have their existence; = spirit world n.

1845   A. B. Welby in Godey's Lady's Bk. Jan. 37/2   Her bosom yet will..find its mate, And all the joys it found so blissful here Within that spirit-realm perpetuate.
1920   J. S. King Dawn of Awakened Mind 445   Life in the spirit realm is as natural to those there, as earth life is to mortals here.
2002   P. Blom To have & to Hold (2003) 44   Gravity, magnetism and acoustic resonance were all counted among the occult phenomena, together with the pneuma, the spirit realm governing the object world.

1845—2002(Hide quotations)


  spirit screen   n. (in traditional Chinese architecture) an internal or external wall or moveable partition which screens a gate or other entrance; cf. spirit wall n.See etymological note at spirit wall n.   for discussion of the Chinese tradition relating to these structures.

1909   Overland Monthly May 416/2   In case the imps of mischief should take it into their heads to wander across country..a big ‘Spirit Screen’ painted with a fearful red or blue monster faces each house.
1979   I. Pruitt Old Madam Yin iii. 21   No one in the street could have seen into any but the Entrance Court or seen anything but the Spirit Screen.
2005   R. Belsky Localities at Center v. 102   Large spirit screens built just within the front entrances kept out stray gazes and bad fengshui.

1909—2005(Hide quotations)


  spirit song   n.  (a) a song sung by a spirit (now rare);  (b) a song used to summon or invoke a spirit, esp. in shamanic ritual.

1817   J. Baillie Let. 2 July (1999) I. v. 372   The homely meanness of his incantations & spirit songs.
1876   Contemp. Rev. July 253   Lively fancy, without elaboration, in the spirit-songs of ‘Manfred’.
1908   G. Herring tr. K. Rasmussen People of Polar North ii. 150   He..begins to tremble all over from head to foot, and then suddenly springs out on the floor and strikes up the monotonous spirit-song [Danish aandevise].
1946   M. Lantis Social Culture Nunivak Eskimo 205/2   Some..‘spirit songs’..were sung by the shaman in public performances to demonstrate his magic powers, to show off his spirit helpers and give a semireligious entertainment.
1975   F. Mowat Snow Walker (1978) 135   I heard her softly singing her spirit song.., the secret song she had received from her mother's mother and with which she could summon her helping spirit.
1991   D. M. Hines Forgotten Tribes ii. 47   In revealing itself to the child, the spirit would utter its characteristic animal cry, sing its special spirit song.., and finally resume its animal form ad disappear.

1817—1991(Hide quotations)


  spirit walking   n.  (a) the wandering on earth of the spirits of the deceased (obsolete);  (b) (esp. in animistic and occult belief systems) the action or practice of projecting one's spirit from one's body.

1777   J. Brand Observ. Pop. Antiq. 71   Mr. Bourne might have stiled this Chapter, A Sermon on Spirit-walking.
1895   Sandusky (Ohio) Reg. 9 Aug. 3/4   The belief in spirits and spirit walking is just about as firmly rooted... If a man is unhappy after death, his relatives are constantly reminded of the fact by his frequent appearances to them.
1992   alt.psychoactives 2 Aug. (Usenet newsgroup, accessed 19 Nov. 2019)    Calamus was associated with spirit-walking,..when people would cover completely improbable distances in the course of very short times.
2018   R. A. Salvatore Child of Mad God 489   A great sadness fell over him, one that broke his inadvertent magic spell of spirit-walking and sent him flying back to his body.

1777—2018(Hide quotations)


  spirit wall   n. (in traditional Chinese architecture) an internal or external wall which screens a gate or other entrance.  [In Chinese, these structures are known as yǐnɡbì, literally ‘reflection wall’, and zhàobì, literally ‘wall that reflects’. They are held to prevent the entrance of hostile spirits, which in Chinese tradition move only in straight lines, and are therefore repelled by such barriers.]

1885   Gospel in All Lands Dec. 564/1   Some of the walls in China have painted on them large pictures of dragons. These are called spirit walls. They are built to protect the houses from evil spirits.
1948   G. H. Johnston Death takes Small Bites ii. 47   Alongside the road, protecting the big houses from wandering devils, were spirit-walls, blank and forbidding.
1995   Mod. Asian Stud. 29 568   It is interesting to note that these hungry ghosts are the very same evil spirits that the feng shui mirrors and spirit walls are designed to keep out of the house.

1885—1995(Hide quotations)


  spirit week   n. (also with capital initials) North American a week during which a high school, college, or university holds organized activities or events intended to inspire enthusiasm or camaraderie among students and staff; (now) spec. one occurring annually prior to the homecoming football game (cf. homecoming n. 2).Quot. 1921   shows school spirit week (cf. school spirit n. at school n.1 Compounds 5a) and better spirit week.

[1921   Appleton (Wisconsin) Post-Crescent 29 Nov. 6/2   School spirit week. ‘No spirit—no school’..won first prize in the slogan contest conducted as part of ‘better spirit week’ in the high school.]
1923   Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia) 22 Feb. 3/3   A week which shall be called ‘Spirit Week’ has been set aside, to be utilized for the bolstering up of class spirit on the campus.
1963   Lyre of Alpha Chi Omega Mar. 75/2   Participation in activities such as weekly pep rallies, Homecoming, Spirit Week, and the Phi Mu Alpha Christmas concert have kept Gamma Omegas busy.
2015   T. I. Stone Every Last Word 26   There are pictures of the five of us dressed up in the school colors for spirit week, and the four of us surrounding Kaitlyn when she won homecoming princess.

1923—2015(Hide quotations)


  spirit world   n. a non-physical realm in which incorporeal or disembodied spirits have their existence.

1826   Misc. Poems, Moral & Relig. 39   Tho' now poor finite worms we cannot tell The splendors of that place; or how, or what It is, to dwell with seraphim above, To live pure spirit in a spirit world, Where nought corporeal can amalgamate.
1847   W. Smith tr. J. G. Fichte Characteristics Present Age 62   So does the Spirit-World not indeed flow together at the breath of Love, for in it there is no Winter, but there all is and abides in eternal communion with the mighty Whole.
1871   E. B. Tylor Primitive Culture I. 131   Two of the most popular means of communicating with the spirit-world.
2016   L. Erdrich LaRose 267   Although she was pronounced dead at the scene, a doctor CPR'd and warmed her blood and brought her back from the spirit world.

1826—2016(Hide quotations)


  spirit worship   n.  (a) worship undertaken inwardly and genuinely, as distinct from external forms of worship (obsolete rare);  (b) worship of a spirit or spirits.

1664   T. Palk Loyal Non-conformist 73   And as they are not Gospel-professors, or true Christians, in the account of God, who worship not him with an internal spirit-worship, though they be never so frequent and constant in external acts of Religion.
1691   R. Maynforth Exhort. All People 33   And if the Enemy should prevail To cast our Bodies in some Goal, As he hath done, some heretofore, Which faithful Testimony bore Against the Rulers in those times, Who Spirit-worship counted crimes.
1878   G. F. Maclear Celts ii. 28   Spirit-worship, which peopled all the objects of nature with malignant beings.
2003   N.Y. Times 28 Sept. i. 3/2   It points to a belief in witchcraft and spirit worship—things people don't want to acknowledge.

1664—2003(Hide quotations)


  spirit wrestler   n.  [after Russian duxoborec (see Doukhobor n.)] a member of a Russian Christian sect that probably originated in the 17th or early 18th cent., characterized by its belief in the immanence of God in all human beings, pacifism, and rejection of the doctrines and liturgy of the Orthodox Church; = Doukhobor n.

1868   J. M'Clintock & J. Strong Cycl. Biblical, Theol., & Eccl. Lit. II. 907/1   Duchobortzi, the name of a Russian sect, not certainly known to have existed before the 18th century. The word is the plural of Duchobozetz_[sic], meaning Spirit Wrestler. It is the name of one of the many sects of the Russo-Greek Church.
1999   C. Thubron In Siberia (2000) vii. 184   There were the pious Stundists and the DukhoborSpirit-wrestlers’, pacifists, who believed in the primacy of an indwelling spirit, turning even the Bible superfluous.
2015   Winnipeg Free Press 16 May d15/1   It was the Orthodox Church that gave them their name. It means ‘spirit wrestlers’, because church officials accused them of wrestling against the spirit of God.

1868—2015(Hide quotations)


  spirit writing   n. writing apparently produced by a spiritual agency, usually through a medium; a piece of writing apparently produced in this way; cf. automatic writing n. at automatic adj. and n. Compounds.

1851   Cleveland (Ohio) Herald 12 June   He..showed Mrs. Fish a paper upon which were written some sentences which she said was spirit writing.
1871   E. B. Tylor Primitive Culture I. 135   The Baron..publishes a mass of fac-similes of spirit-writings thus obtained.
2018   Herald (Glasgow) (Nexis) 5 June 7   The show..features mediumship readings, spirit writing, and several horror-themed demonstrations.

1851—2018(Hide quotations)

 C2. Compounds relating to liquids obtained by distillation or containing volatile compounds extracted by distillation (see sense 23).Often relating specifically to alcoholic spirits used for drinking (sense 23c).
 a. As a modifier.
 (a) With the sense ‘that works, acts, etc., by means of (esp. methylated) spirit or spirits’.

  spirit kettle   n.

1859   Austral. & N.Z. Gaz. 9 Apr. 322/2   The elder boys presented to the Rev. J. C. Bagshaw..an elegant silver-plated spirit kettle.
1890   Girl's Own Paper 4 Jan. 213/3   An Etna or small spirit kettle, and a bottle of spirits; some tea and a little sugar.
1923   M. Beerbohm Peep into Past 10   His portly form..may be seen bending over the little spirit-kettle.
1960   C. Day Lewis Buried Day vii. 137   Cake-stand,..heavy silver teapot, spirit-kettle and all.
1997   D. Pollard Peetz: Reel for All Time 25 caption   Earliest known work of Boris Peetz: a plated spirit kettle for his travels across Canada in 1911.

1859—1997(Hide quotations)


  spirit stove   n.

1852   New-London (Connecticut) Democrat 17 Jan. 2/3   The Milwaukee Advertiser says that a gentleman of that city has invented a spirit stove, which, while only a foot square, will warm any ordinary sized room.
1895   Army & Navy Price List   Kettle and Spirit Stove.
1902   E. Banks Autobiogr. Newspaper Girl 170   One day I thought I'd cook some over my spirit-stove.
2003   N. Slater Toast 235   Crêpes Suzette..hotly followed by brandies warmed over the spirit stoves.

1852—2003(Hide quotations)


spirit weather-glass   n. Obsolete rare

1694   J. Smith Horol. Disquis. 61 (heading)    The best Rules for the Ordering and Use Both of the Quick-silver and Spirit Weather-glass.

1694—1694(Hide quotations)


 (b) With the sense ‘of or relating to (esp. alcoholic) spirits’, as spirit dealer, spirit drink, spirit flame, spirit licence , spirit merchant, etc.

1736   A. Holden Vindic. Pamphlet intituled Tryal of Spirits 20 in Coll. Pamphlets Pro & Con Brit. Distillery   The Mischiefs done the Society by the Spirit Trade, have not arose from Rum and Brandy made from Melasses, but from Malt-Spirits.
1786   Boletarium 57   Holmes, John..Spirit Merchant.
1797   E. Burke Third Let. Peace Regicide Directory France 150   The spirit licences kept nearly the same level till the stoppage of the Distilleries in 1795.
1822   J. Galt Gathering of West in Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. Sept. 310/1   The change-wife's gill-stoup is full cousin to the spirit-dealer's gallon-pot.
1846   G. E. Day tr. J. F. Simon Animal Chem. II. 186   Spirit-extract, with chloride of sodium.
1938   K. O'Brien Pray for Wanderer (1951) i. 22   Una lighted the spirit-flame under the retort of the coffee machine.
1994   Jrnl. Canad. Hist. Assoc. 30   37 per cent were from the middling ranks (e.g. surgeons, planters, shopkeepers, spirit dealers, fish cullers, innkeepers).
2013   Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) 24 Feb. 4 d/5   More and more people are experimenting with wine beyond spirit drinks.

1736—2013(Hide quotations)


 (i) With the sense ‘used for holding, storing, or selling alcoholic spirits’, as spirit cask, spirit cellar, spirit jar, spirit shop, etc.

1766   L. Carter Diary 15 May (1965) I. 299   Filled my Spirit case this day... Quantity: 4 gallons.
1783   Appeal from Scotl. to House of Lords 3   He..has seen him make his Surveys of Spirit Cellars, of which the Deponent had one.
1835   Mirror of Parl. (1st Sess., 12th Parl.) 1 983/2   I would willingly, if there was any chance of succeeding, include spirit-shops.
1894   Funk's Standard Dict.   Spirit-beck, a beck or vat for containing the spirit in a distillery.
1942   Times 10 Jan. 2/2   Stealing two bottles of whisky, three empty cases, and an empty spirit jar.
2001   R. Kenna Glasgow Pub Compan. (ed. 2) 13   The ‘palace pubs’ of the 1880s, which adopted their mirrors, long bars, and rows of spirit casks.

1766—2001(Hide quotations)


  spirit bottle   n.

1783   Appeal from Scotl. to House of Lords 8   The Deponent..has often seen him drunk, and fall, on his going to bring his Spirit Bottle to give the Deponent a Dram.
1883   Bonfort's Wine & Spirit Circular 10 Mar. 164/3   The duty on filled wine and spirit bottles remains the same.
1972   G. M. Brown Greenvoe (1976) v. 175   The trunk was crammed with empty spirit bottles of every shape and size.
2016   E. Anglian Daily Times (Nexis) 18 Nov.   Shards of broken spirit bottles have again been found strewn across a stretch of Suffolk road.

1783—2016(Hide quotations)


  spirit flask   n.

1802   Caledonian Mercury 5 Aug. (advt.)    Powder and Spirit Flasks,..and every other article necessary for the equipment of the Sportsman.
1961   L. G. G. Ramsey Connoisseur New Guide Antique Eng. Pottery, Porcelain & Glass 73   Other manifestations of Early Victorian work..were the..spirit flasks formed into the shapes of human figures.
2012   Irish Arts Rev. 29 127 (caption)    Spirit flask engraved with arms of the Netterville crest, Irish, c. 1800.

1802—2012(Hide quotations)


 (d) In names of dyes originally prepared using a mixture of extracts and a solution of tin salts (cf. sense 26), or (in later use) in names of dyes and varnishes soluble in methylated spirit; as spirit black, spirit blue, spirit yellow, etc. Also spirit colour .Cf. spirit varnish n. at Compounds 2d.

1821   Philos. Mag. 58 395   Method of making fine light black..which, for distinction from other blacks, they call spirit black.
1827   Berrow's Worcester Jrnl. 14 June   John Goddard and Alex. Fred. Cope..sugar-refiners, spirit colour-makers, and manufacturers of liquors.
1836   Penny Cycl. VI. 157/1   Spirit-Colours are brilliant, but fugitive; they consist generally of decoctions of dye-woods, mixed with nitro-muriate or muriate of tin.
1867   R. Hunt Ure's Dict. Arts (ed. 6) I. 589   1 gallon spirit yellow.
1874   E. H. Knight Amer. Mech. Dict. I. 428/1   Spirit-color printing.
1904   House Beautiful May 380/1   A mahogany red is obtained by giving the wood one application of spirit brown.
1908   H. A. Hare et al. National Standard Dispensatory (ed. 2) 185   Aniline Yellow,..Spirit yellow, is used principally as the basis for manufacturing more permanent aniline colors.
1953   A. G. E. Pearse Histochem. viii. 178   Lillie and Laskey..developed a modified Ciaccio method using formol-calcium fixation followed by Sudan black B or Spirit blue.
1967   J. W. Collier Wood Finishing 104   The polisher usually has by him a small stock of spirit-soluble dyes for making up his colours. The following list is usually sufficient for his purposes: Spirit black... Spirit yellow. Spirit green. Spirit blue.

1821—1967(Hide quotations)


 b. With participles, verbal nouns, and agent nouns, forming compounds in which spirit expresses the object of the underlying verb, as in spirit drinker, spirit drinking, spirit seller, etc.

1729   E. Strother Pract. Observ. Epidemical Fever 92   Brandy Spirits..will..destroy the Texture of the Blood, and turn it into a Solid, as appears by those Concretions in the Aorta of Spirit-Drinkers.
1744   D. Forbes Considerations Present State Scotl. 10   The Tea and Spirit drinking is high, in proportion as the Brewery is low.
1841   C. Dickens Barnaby Rudge xiii. 8   To be looked upon as a common..spirit-guzzler.
1896   Daily News 4 Mar. 8/5   Her greatest danger came from the spirit-sellers.
1967   Brit. Jrnl. Psychiatry 113 644/1   The pattern resembled closely the alcoholism of North America and most spirit-consuming cultures.
1997   J. Hawes Rancid Aluminium (1998) 8   Thirty years of cold, damp, winterbeaten, husband-battered, childbearing, stall-holding, spirit-drinking, tooth-rotting reality count nearly double.
2001   Carillon (Steinbach, Manitoba) 1 Oct. 12 c/1   A single duck flew over, the spirit drinker shot and down came the duck!

1729—2001(Hide quotations)


 c. With the first element in plural form, in various types of compound, as in spirits bottle, spirits drinker, spirits shop, etc.

1810   J. Lambert Trav. Lower Canada & U.S. II. xxxv. 379   Liquor and many other articles..are retailed at the taverns, and small spirits-shops at an exorbitant rate.
1821   Rep. Trial E. Hall vs. R. Grant 106   This afflicted child that saw the spirits bottle.
1869   Trans. Amer. Med. Assoc. 20 255   The spirits-drinker will be apt to outlive the wine-bibber.
1916   Amer. Brewers' Rev. Jan. 6/2   A reduction of almost 15,000,000 gallons in spirits consumption.
1955   Manch. Guardian 16 June 11/4 (advt.)    Designed for use as wines and spirits storage.
2013   Daily Star (Nexis) 4 Dec. 35   I'm not much of a spirits drinker.

1810—2013(Hide quotations)


  spirit blowpipe   n. a blowpipe in which the flame is produced by burning alcohol vapour.

1872   Chem. News 1 Mar. 98/2   The usual rule has been to expose the coal in a closed crucible to the heat of a gas or spirit blowpipe, and to assume the residue..to contain only carbon, and incombustible matter or ash.
1953   H. R. B. Fenn et al. Clin. Dental Prosthetics v. 153   Besides bowls of hot and cold water, a small pin-point flame, either of gas or a spirit blowpipe, will be required.

1812—1953(Hide quotations)


  spirit bubble   n. the air bubble in a spirit level (see spirit level n.); (also) the spirit level itself.

1791   G. Adams Geom. & Graphical Ess. 378   The tube..with the spirit buble, is fixed to the telescope by a joint at one end.
1862   Internat. Exhib.: Illustr. Catal. Industr. Dept. II. xiii. §2947   When the instrument is turned in any direction, the spirit bubble will be kept in the centre of its run.
1916   J. A. L. Waddell Bridge Engin. II. 2007   A type of hand-level consisting of a small tube with a spirit bubble mounted on the upper side and a refracting prism or a reflector to show the bubble in the field of vision.
2004   Geografiska Annaler A. 86 56/1   The albedometer was mounted on a camera tripod and readings were made in a horizontal (i.e. surface-parallel) plane by means of a spirit bubble.

1791—2004(Hide quotations)


  spirit duplicator   n. now historical a duplicating machine using an alcohol-based solvent to transfer pigment on to sheets of paper.

1936   Printers' Ink 16 Apr. 65/2 (advt.)    On the spirit duplicator, does your present paper require much or little fluid?
1958   Daily Mail 24 July 6/6   We came to the spirit duplicators... These machines were rather magical. They duplicated in seven different colours.
2005   J. Davitt New Tools Learning i. 9   Ten, 20, and even 30 years ago every school in the land produced a school magazine on the Banda Spirit duplicator or the photocopier.

1936—2005(Hide quotations)


  spirit engine   n.  (a) a machine that draws up spirits from a cask in the cellar (obsolete);  (b) now historical an internal combustion engine.

1810   Mirror (Bristol) 28 Apr.   A Metallic Composition as a substitute for Brass, in forming the Cylinders of Beer and Spirit Engines.
1889   Eng. Mechanic & World of Sci. 2 Aug. 472/3   The use of petroleum as fuel working a spirit engine.
1901   Western Times 13 Sept. 1/3 (advt.)    Bar Counters, Beer and Spirit Engines,..Tankards, Spirit Barrels.
1986   Irish Arts Rev. 3 27/2   Alphonse Beau de Rochas..first designed the four-stroke gas or ‘spirit’ engine which has been the basis of the world's motor industry ever since.

1810—1986(Hide quotations)


  spirit fresco   n. a method of fresco painting in which the colours are ground in a medium containing oil of spike or spirits of turpentine.

1864   F. Leighton in Jrnl. Soc. Arts 12 Feb. 203/2   As I am, to the best of my belief, the only professional painter who has worked with Gambier Parry's spirit fresco, it may be convenient to you to refer to my unfinished works at Lyndhurst.
1909   J. Ward Fresco Painting 38   The method of painting followed out in the spirit-fresco system..is almost precisely the same as that of the lime or buon-fresco process.
2012   Burlington Mag. 154 56 (caption)    The Romans building a fort at Mancenion, A.D. 80, by Ford Madox Brown. 1880. Gambier Parry process of spirit fresco, 146 by 318 cm.

1864—2012(Hide quotations)


  spirit grocer   n. chiefly Irish English and Australian (now chiefly historical) a grocer licensed to sell alcoholic spirits.

1828   Belfast News Let. 11 Jan.   The spirit grocers..were indicted for selling liquor to be consumed on their premises.
1921   ‘I. O.’ Admin. Ireland, 1920 xii. 346   Considerable damage was done to property, mainly spirit-grocers and public houses.
2015   Hist. Ireland 23 30/3   When William Wilson, a spirit grocer, was caught at Ballymurphy in 1866 he was fined the maximum of 40/-.

1828—2015(Hide quotations)


  spirit gum   n. a type of quick-drying glue, used esp. by actors to attach false hair.

1871   Era 1 Oct. 14/4 (advt.)    No actor need fear swallowing his moustache or Whiskers coming off, if they use Clarkson's Spirit Gum.
1977   M. Slosberg August Strangers iii. 175   I took the small package..from my attaché case. From it I removed a bottle of spirit gum, a full mustache, and a set of..spectacles.
2012   Ukiah (Calif.) Daily Jrnl. 2 Dec. 1/2   Turnwall had a large tuft of white wool glued to his chin with spirit gum, a wooden staff and a throne-worthy chair.

1871—2012(Hide quotations)


spirit liver   n. Obsolete rare a fatty or cirrhotic liver occurring in an alcoholic who drinks spirits; cf. gin liver n. at gin n.3 Compounds 2.

[1835   Lancet 25 July 549/2   The liver was enlarged, indurated, and thickly studded with brown tubercles,..presenting the appearance of what is called ‘gin-and-spirit’ liver.]
1896   H. D. Rolleston & W. J. Fenton in Birmingham Med. Rev. 40 198   The spirit livers appeared to be more frequently fatty.

1896—1896(Hide quotations)


  spirit room   n. Nautical (now historical) a room on board ship for the storage of alcoholic spirits.

1778   J. Cook Jrnl. 3 Sept. (1967) III. 447   While we lay here we cleared the Fish room, Spirit room and after hold.
1850   J. Greenwood Sailor's Sea-bk. 143   The spirit-room is built in the hold, next before the fish-room, to contain the spirituous liquors for the use of the ship's company.
1922   B. Lubbock Blackwall Frigates ii. 85   The new pirates lost no time in breaking into the spirit room, and by sunset every man aboard had drunk himself into a stupor.
2014   T. McGrath Give Me Fast Ship vii. 204   The crew made the most of their remaining minutes of freedom. They broke into the spirit room and got as drunk as time and supplies permitted.

1778—2014(Hide quotations)


  spirit-soluble adj. soluble in alcohol and similar organic solvents.

1871   Chem. Rev. Oct. 14/2   Dyes... Coralline (Aurins)—Yellow, spirit soluble.
1945   Jrnl. Soc. Dyers & Colourists 61 327/3 (table)    Waxakol. Dyes for colouring waxes, fats and oils; some are also spirit-soluble.
2004   Tool & Machinery Catal. 2005 (Axminster Power Tool Centre Ltd.) xiv. 23/2   Refined methylated spirit for mixing with concentrated spirit soluble dyes or used with French polish flakes.

1871—2004(Hide quotations)


spirit standard   n. Obsolete a spirit thermometer which has been calibrated against a thermometer of known accuracy.

1853   E. K. Kane U.S. Grinnell Exped. xxxiv. 297   The cold was becoming more intense: our ship thermometers stood at -32°, my spirit standard at -34°, and my mercurial at -38°.
1904   Rep. Meteorol. Council (Royal Soc.) 17/2 in Parl. Papers (Cd. 1880) XVIII. 641   Supply and Stock of Instruments... 1 Spirit Standard Thermometer.

1853—1904(Hide quotations)


  spirit thermometer   n. a thermometer in which the working liquid is alcohol.

1701   Philos. Trans. 1700–1 (Royal Soc.) 22 sig. Iiiiii4   A B represents the Spirit-Thermometer, graduated from 0 of the freezing point, through all the possible degrees of the heat or cold of the Air.
1843   J. F. Daniell Introd. Study Chem. Philos. (ed. 2) 162   A jet of liquid carbonic acid directed upon the bulb of a spirit thermometer will sink it to 130° below 0.
1934   A. H. R. Goldie Abercromby's Weather (rev. ed.) i. 4   The temperature of the air is usually obtained from the readings of mercury or spirit thermometers.
2012   G. Black Empire of Shadows ii. 252   On the eve of departure, presumably with the aid of a spirit thermometer, someone measured the temperature as forty-four below.

1701—2012(Hide quotations)


  spirit tube   n. = spirit level n.

1725   S. Wyld Pract. Surveyor App. 155   Upon this Tellescope is fixed, with two small Screws, the Spirit Tube, and Bubble therein, which Bubble rest exactly in the Middle of the Tube, when the Tellescope is set truly level.
1842   Penny Cycl. XXII. 359/1   The spirit-tube is used in determining the relative heights of ground at two or more stations.
1908   G. Ellis Mod. Pract. Joinery (ed. 3) xxiv. 398   The same advantages, to a lesser degree, can be obtained by fitting the stock with a small spirit tube.
2005   Brit. Patent 2,403,537 3   The spirit tube or tubes may be rotatable relative to the beam.

1725—2005(Hide quotations)


  spirit varnish   n. a varnish prepared by dissolving a resin in alcohol; (as a mass noun) varnish of this kind.

1738   J. Hoofnail New Pract. Improvem. Exper. Colours 26   The only Use I found it would be proper for, was to make a transparent Spirit Varnish.
1850   C. Holtzapffel Turning & Mech. Manip. III. 1375   These resins constitute the basis of what are called spirit varnishes.
1944   J. B. Parry in R. Greenhalgh Pract. Builder viii. 290/2   Spirit varnishes, including French polish, require a warm, dry atmosphere during application.
1997   J. Beament Violin Explained (2000) x. 200   Some people apply a ground before using spirit varnish.

1738—1997(Hide quotations)


  spirit varnished adj. coated with a spirit varnish.

1860   Photogr. Notes 15 Dec. 336/1   Coat the spirit-varnished film with some warm gelatine, and stick the piece of paper against it.
1918   Musical Times 59 73/2   A spirit-varnished instrument, no matter how well made, will not last so long as a well-made oil-varnished instrument.
1990   Strad June 489 (advt.)    Inlaid purfled & spirit varnished bow.

1860—1990(Hide quotations)


  spirit vault   n.  (a) a vault for the storage of alcoholic spirits;  (b) British (now historical or occurring in names of establishments) (in singular and plural) a tavern or public house licensed to serve alcoholic spirits.

1765   Public Advertiser 1 May (advt.)    A large substantial Brick Dwelling House divided into two,..together with..Mill-house and Loft, Spirit Vaults, with Iron Doors, situa[t]ed in Barnaby-street, Southwark.
1825   Caledonian Mercury 16 Apr.   Two fellows went into a spirit vault in the Candlemaker Row, and called for some whisky to drink.
1932   Scotsman 29 July 6/7   In the public-house, Glenburn Spirit Vaults, 59 Stevenston Road, Carfin, he procured exciseable liquor for consumption on the premises by..drunken persons.
1995   Irish Independent 24 Feb. (Property Suppl.)   Cellar with draught beer coldroom, spirit vault, bottle store, fully equipped catering kitchen.
2009   Music Week (Nexis) 25 Apr. 27   We ran a jazz club in The Spirit Vaults in Chippenham in Wiltshire.

1765—2009(Hide quotations)


  spirit vinegar   n. clear vinegar typically containing a relatively high concentration of acetic acid; (spec.) such vinegar made by the acetic fermentation of dilute distilled alcohol.In the United Kingdom, the term spirit vinegar is restricted by law to vinegar produced using agricultural products which have undergone a second fermentation.

1865   Ladies' Treasury Mar. 84/2   From the green fruit or apples [of the potato], when ripe and fermented, a good spirit vinegar can be obtained.
1924   E. LeFevre Making Vinegar in Home & on Farm (U.S. Dept. Agric. Farmers' Bull. No. 1424 5   Molasses, either alone or in combination with grain extracts, is widely used as a basis for making spirit vinegar.
2013   Weekend Post (S. Afr.) (Nexis) 19 Jan. (Leisure ed.)    Here is a detailed account from a reader of an effective method using spirit vinegar to clean her washing machine.

1865—2013(Hide quotations)

 C3. In names of animals and plants.See also spirit weed n.

spirit-butterfly   n. Obsolete rare any butterfly of the tropical American genus Ithomia (family Nymphalidae), the members of which have nearly scaleless, diaphanous wings; a glasswing.

[1884   Standard Nat. Hist. II. 493   These..when in flight appear as has been aptly said, like ‘spirit butterflies’, their gauzy wings hardly giving the idea of active life.]
1891   Cent. Dict.   Spirit-butterfly, a tropical American butterfly of the genus Ithomia.

1891—1891(Hide quotations)


  spirit duck   n. now historical and rare the bufflehead, Bucephala albeola, a North American diving duck which can submerge quickly and reappear a distance away (cf. sense 11c); (occasionally also) any of various other waterfowl having this ability.

1785   T. Pennant Arctic Zool. II. ii. 558   Spirit Duck... Inhabits North America, from Hudson's Bay to Carolina.
1831   W. Swainson & J. Richardson Fauna Boreali-Americana II. 437   They [sc. Clangula vulgaris and albeola]..dive so dexterously at the flash of the gun..that the natives say they are endowed with some supernatural power. Hence their appellation of ‘Conjuring’ or ‘Spirit Ducks’.
1925   A. C. Bent in Progress (Clearfield, Pa.) (1993) 6 Dec. 24/2   The propriety of applying the name ‘spirit duck’ to this sprightly little duck will be appreciated by anyone who has watched it in its natural surroundings.
1957   P. L. Errington Of Men & Marshes ii. 14   Another name for the bufflehead is spirit duck.

1785—1957(Hide quotations)


  spirit-leaf   n. now rare a small herbaceous plant native to tropical America, Ruellia tuberosa (family Acanthaceae), having pale purple, funnel-shaped flowers and seed pods which burst explosively when moistened; = spirit weed n. 1.Now usually called many-roots or duppy gun.

1696   H. Sloane Catal. Plantarum in Jamaica 52   Gentianella flore cœruleo integro vasculo seminali ex humidi contractu impatiente... Spirit leaf.
1794   in H. Barham Hortus Americanus (index)    Vulnerary,..Semper vive, Spirit-leaf, Tobacco, Tooth-wort, [etc.].
1864   A. H. R. Grisebach Flora Brit. W. Indian Islands 787/2   Spirit-leaf, Ruellia tuberosa.
1967   F. G. Cassidy & R. B. Le Page Dict. Jamaican Eng.   Spirit-leaf.., the common plant Ruellia tuberosa, whose pods burst when wet (whence perh the element ‘spirit-’).

1696—1967(Hide quotations)


  spirit wood   n. rare (now historical) a tropical American tree or shrub (not identified, but perhaps of the genus Aegiphila (family Lamiaceae)); cf. spirit weed n. 2.

1692   L. Plukenet Phytographia iii. Pl. CCXV   Pneumato xylum Arbor baccifera..Barbadensibus Spirit-wood vocata.
1716   Petiveriana i. 259   Spirit-wood,..Pneumatoxylum.
1852   J. P. Knox Hist. Acct. St. Thomas, W.I. 231   Ægiphila trifida Sw. Spirit Wood.
1979   Bot. Jrnl. Linn. Soc. 79 83   Spirit wood = Aegiphila elata Sw.

1692—1979(Hide quotations)




  ˈspiritwise adv. in the manner of a spirit; as regards the spirit.

1848   P. J. Bailey Festus (ed. 3) 309   Thou shalt perceive earth spirit-wise.
1960   C. Bukowski Let. 22 July in C. Bukowski & S. Martinelli Beerspit Night & Cursing: Lett. (2001) 64   Thanx for bread. Spiritwise I don't think anything better has happened to me for sometime [sic].
2007   Gaz. (Colorado Springs) 7 Nov. a18/3   He was big, spiritwise, and he loved to play practical jokes on my mother.

1848—2007(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, June 2020; most recently modified version published online December 2022).

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