Give up the ghost

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Give up the ghost is an idiom that may be traced back as far as the 1600s. We will examine the definition of the phrase give up the ghost, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To give up the ghost means to expire or die, or in the case of a mechanical object, to stop working. The phrase give up the ghost may be traced back to the King James Bible, printed in the early 1600s. The term is used in several places in the Bible, including Mark 15:37: “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” The phrase is usually translated in these times as giving up one’s spirit, rather than ghost. Related phrases are gives up the ghost, gave up the ghost, given up the ghost, giving up the ghost. 


Occasionally, usually in the middle of a dark, stormy night, a limb would give up the ghost, falling onto the roof and causing us to bolt upright in bed, dreading the mess that we’d face in the morning. (The Herald Times)

It seems in his view that, even after death, spooks don’t give up the ghost of the human impulse to endure. (The San Antonio Current)

Or the scandal-phobic Queen Vic, whose many positive qualities as a young queen are currently on display in PBS’s Victoria but whose contempt for and resentment of her charming but dissolute son just about ruined him as he waited — and waited — for her to give up the ghost. (USA Today)

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