Esprit de corps, recorded from 1780 in English, preserves the usual French sense. French also has the excellent phrase esprit de l'escalier, literally "spirit of the staircase," defined in OED as, "a retort or remark that occurs to a person after the opportunity to make it has passed." It also has esprit fort, a "strong-minded" person, one independent of current prejudices, especially a freethinker in religion.
Entries linking to esprit
mid-13c., "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Anglo-French spirit, Old French espirit "spirit, soul" (12c., Modern French esprit) and directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence "life;" also "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance," related to spirare "to breathe," perhaps from PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (source also of Old Church Slavonic pisto "to play on the flute"). But de Vaan says "Possibly an onomatopoeic formation imitating the sound of breathing. There are no direct cognates."
Meaning "supernatural immaterial creature; angel, demon; an apparition, invisible corporeal being of an airy nature" is attested from mid-14c.; from late 14c. as "a ghost" (see ghost (n.)). From c. 1500 as "a nature, character"; sense of "essential principle of something" (in a non-theological context, as in Spirit of St. Louis) is attested from 1680s, common after 1800; Spirit of '76 in reference to the qualities that sparked and sustained the American Revolution is attested by 1797 in William Cobbett's "Porcupine's Gazette and Daily Advertiser."
From late 14c. in alchemy as "volatile substance; distillate;" from c. 1500 as "substance capable of uniting the fixed and the volatile elements of the philosopher's stone." Hence spirits "volatile substance;" sense narrowed to "strong alcoholic liquor" by 1670s. This also is the sense in spirit level (1768). Also from mid-14c. as "character, disposition; way of thinking and feeling, state of mind; source of a human desire;" in Middle English freedom of spirit meant "freedom of choice." From late 14c. as "divine substance, divine mind, God;" also "Christ" or His divine nature; "the Holy Ghost; divine power;" also, "extension of divine power to man; inspiration, a charismatic state; charismatic power, especially of prophecy." Also "essential nature, essential quality." From 1580s in metaphoric sense "animation, vitality."
According to Barnhart and OED, originally in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah. Distinction between "soul" and "spirit" (as "seat of emotions") became current in Christian terminology (such as Greek psykhe vs. pneuma, Latin anima vs. spiritus) but "is without significance for earlier periods" [Buck]. Latin spiritus, usually in classical Latin "breath," replaces animus in the sense "spirit" in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Greek pneuma. Spirit-rapping is from 1852.
the later Romans evidently found words beginning in sc-, sp-, st- difficult or unpleasant to pronounce; in Late Latin forms begin to emerge in i- (such as ispatium, ispiritu), and from 5c. this shifted to e-. The development was carried into the Romanic languages, especially Old French, and the French words were modified further after 15c. by natural loss of -s- (the suppression being marked by an acute accent on the e-), while in other cases the word was formally corrected back to the Latin spelling (for example spécial). Hence French état for Old French estat for Latin status, etc. It also affected Romanic borrowings from Germanic (such as espy, eschew).
"a frolic, drinking bout," 1804, slang, earliest use in Scottish dialect works, of uncertain origin. Perhaps [Barnhart] an alteration of French esprit "lively wit" (see esprit). According to Klein, Irish spre seems to be a loan-word from Old Norse sprakr. Watkins proposes a possible origin as an alteration of Scots spreath "cattle raid," from Gaelic sprédh, spré, "cattle; wealth," from Middle Irish preit, preid, "booty," ultimately from Latin praeda "plunder, booty" (see prey (n.)).
The splore is a frolic, a merry meeting. In the slang language of the inhabitants of St Giles's, in London, it is called a spree or a go. [Note in "Select Scottish Songs, Ancient and Modern," vol. II, London, 1810]
In Foote's comedy "The Maid of Bath" (1794) the word appears as a Scottish dialect pronunciation of spry: " 'When I intermarried with Sir Launcelot Coldstream, I was en siek a spree lass as yoursel; and the baronet bordering upon his grand climacteric;' " etc.