Etymology
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word (v.)
c. 1200, "to utter;" 1610s, "put into words," from word (n.). Related: Worded; wording.
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ghost (n.)

Old English gast "breath; good or bad spirit, angel, demon; person, man, human being," in Biblical use "soul, spirit, life," from Proto-West Germanic *gaistaz (source also of Old Saxon gest, Old Frisian jest, Middle Dutch gheest, Dutch geest, German Geist "spirit, ghost"). This is conjectured to be from a PIE root *gheis-, used in forming words involving the notions of excitement, amazement, or fear (source also of Sanskrit hedah "wrath;" Avestan zaesha- "horrible, frightful;" Gothic usgaisjan, Old English gæstan "to frighten").

Ghost is the English representative of the usual West Germanic word for "supernatural being." In Christian writing in Old English it is used to render Latin spiritus (see spirit (n.)), a sense preserved in Holy Ghost. Sense of "disembodied spirit of a dead person," especially imagined as wandering among the living or haunting them, is attested from late 14c. and returns the word toward its likely prehistoric sense.

Most Indo-European words for "soul, spirit" also double with reference to supernatural spirits. Many have a base sense of "appearance" (such as Greek phantasma; French spectre; Polish widmo, from Old Church Slavonic videti "to see;" Old English scin, Old High German giskin, originally "appearance, apparition," related to Old English scinan, Old High German skinan "to shine"). Other concepts are in French revenant, literally "returning" (from the other world), Old Norse aptr-ganga, literally "back-comer." Breton bugelnoz is literally "night-child." Latin manes probably is a euphemism.

The gh- spelling appeared early 15c. in Caxton, influenced by Flemish and Middle Dutch gheest, but was rare in English before mid-16c. Sense of "slight suggestion, mere shadow or semblance" (in ghost image, ghost of a chance, etc.) is first recorded 1610s; sense of "one who secretly does work for another" is from 1884. Ghost town is from 1908. Ghost story is by 1811. Ghost-word "apparent word or false form in a manuscript due to a blunder" is from 1886 (Skeat). Ghost in the machine was British philosopher Gilbert Ryle's term (1949) for "the mind viewed as separate from the body." The American Indian ghost dance is from 1890. To give up the ghost "die" was in Old English.

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ghost (v.)
"to ghost-write," 1922, back-formation from ghost-writing (1919) "article written by one man upon material supplied in interview or otherwise by a second and which appears in print over the signature of such second party" ["The Ghost Writer and His Story" [Graves Glenwood Clark, in "The Editor," Feb. 25, 1920], from ghost (n.) "one who secretly does work for another (1884). Related: Ghost-written. Ghost-writing also was used from c. 1902 for secret writing using lemon juice, etc. A late 19c. term for "one whose work is credited to another" was gooseberry-picker.
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word (n.)
Origin and meaning of word

Old English word "speech, talk, utterance, sentence, statement, news, report, word," from Proto-Germanic *wurda- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian word, Dutch woord, Old High German, German wort, Old Norse orð, Gothic waurd), from PIE *were- (3) "speak, say" (see verb).

The meaning "promise" was in Old English, as was the theological sense. In the plural, the meaning "verbal altercation" (as in have words with someone) dates from mid-15c. Word-processor first recorded 1971; word-processing is from 1972; word-wrap is from 1977. A word to the wise is from Latin phrase verbum sapienti satis est "a word to the wise is enough." Word-for-word "in the exact word or terms" is late 14c. Word of mouth "spoken words, oral communication" (as distinguished from written words) is by 1550s.

It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence. [William Carlos Williams, "Paterson"]
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nonce-word (n.)

"word coined for a special occasion," and not likely to be wanted again, 1884, from nonce "for a particular purpose" + word (n.). Said to be a translation of Littré's term mot d'occasion.

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swear-word (n.)
1873, American English colloquial, from swear (v.) + word (n.).
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loan-word (n.)
"word taken untranslated from one language into another," 1860, a translation of German Lehnwort, properly "lend-word," from lehnen "lend" (see lend (v.)) + Word (see word (n.)).
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poltergeist (n.)

"a noisy spirit, a ghost which makes its presence known by noises," 1838, from German Poltergeist, literally "noisy ghost," from poltern "make noise, rattle" (from PIE root *bhel- (4) "to sound, ring, roar;" source of bellow, bell) + Geist "ghost" (see ghost (n.)). In the native idiom of Northern England, such phenomena likely would be credited to a boggart.

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zombie (n.)
1871, of West African origin (compare Kikongo zumbi "fetish;" Kimbundu nzambi "god"), originally the name of a snake god, later with meaning "reanimated corpse" in voodoo cult. But perhaps also from Louisiana creole word meaning "phantom, ghost," from Spanish sombra "shade, ghost." Sense "slow-witted person" is recorded from 1936.
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aghast (adj.)
c. 1300, agast, "terrified, suddenly filled with frightened amazement," past participle of Middle English agasten "to frighten" (c. 1200), from a- intensive prefix (see a- (1)) + Old English gæstan "to terrify," from gæst "spirit, ghost" (see ghost (n.)). The unetymological -gh- is perhaps a Flemish influence, or after ghost, etc. It became general after 1700.
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