The Meaning of Poltergeist: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of poltergeist? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word poltergeist, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word poltergeist mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word poltergeist is a noun that refers to a noisy or mischievous ghost that is responsible for unexplained noises or phenomena. These poltergeist incidents or poltergeist disturbances could include rappings, the levitation of objects, loud noises, an invisible being that can move objects or cutlery from a specific location, fraud, one who can knock things, unusual air currents from different rooms, the movement of underground water, or other acts of mischief, pranks and hoaxes. The pronunciation of poltergeist is ˈpōl-tər-ˌgīst. Famous people associated with poltergeists include skeptical investigator Joe Nickell, Alan Gauls, psychical researcher Frank Podmore, Guy William Lambert, Tobe Hooper, magician Milbourne Christopher, Richard Wiseman, Tony Cornell, Jobeth Williams, Steven Freeling and other psychic mediums.

Many different languages also contain words that mean poltergeist. You may notice that a lot of these words look similar to the word poltergeist. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that look and sound similar between languages and also have a similar meaning. Cognates are often formed when words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of poltergeist is provided by Word Sense.

  •  German: Poltergeist‎ (masc.), Klopfgeist‎ (masc.)
  •  Georgian: პოლტერგეისტი‎
  •  Esperanto: poltergejsto‎
  •  Vietnamese: yêu tinh‎
  •  Spanish: poltergeist‎ (masc.)
  •  Norwegian: poltergeist‎, bankeånd‎
  •  Swedish: poltergeist‎ (common)
  •  Czech: poltergeist‎ (masc.)
  •  Ukrainian: полтергейст‎
  •  Japanese: ポルターガイスト現象‎ (porutāgaisuto genshō), ポルターガイスト‎ (porutāgaisuto)
  •  Latvian: poltergeists‎
  •  Italian: poltergeist‎ (masc.)
  •  Russian: полтерге́йст‎
  •  Polish: poltergeist‎
  •  Bulgarian: полтъргайст‎
  •  Arabic: رُوح شَرِيرَة‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: räyhähenki‎, poltergeist‎
  •  Dutch: klopgeest‎
  •  Volapük: nokamalanan‎
  •  Korean: 폴터가이스트‎
  •  Mandarin: 騷靈現象‎, 骚灵现象‎ (sāolíng xiànxiàng), 騷靈‎, 骚灵‎ (sāolíng)
  •  Portuguese: poltergeist‎ (masc.)
  •  Lithuanian: poltergeistas‎
  •  French: esprit frappeur‎ (masc.), poltergeist‎ (masc.)

How can the word poltergeist be used in a sentence?

There are many different ways in which the word poltergeist can be used in a sentence. Below are many examples of poltergeist.

The young couple made claims of poltergeist activity, but later researchers discovered their symptoms were not typical of normal poltergeist experiences. The subjects had memory lapses, not water turbulence, structural movement of the property, or the shifting of the few of the objects in their home. This was not the work of a loud spirit or juvenile trickster – later, a gas leak was discovered.

The ghost hunter solved many cases of poltergeist activity outbreaks in her elementary school. From illusion to delusions, the young girl always managed to hunt down the perpetrator rumble-ghost with scrutiny and banish such events and harassment for good.

The Fox sisters made a list of activities and a list of clothes messed up that they believed were caused by paranormal activity or some invisible entity. Diane hired a ghost hunter who had worked in Brazil, Australia, the United States and European nations to eliminate the physical disturbances and determine the type of ghost or poltergeist that was haunting them.

The father of the hole believed that the poltergeist phenomenon was due to psychological factors, but his children’s descriptions of the phantasms matched fictional descriptions of poltergeists in ghostlore, and the medium believed this particular person was a bell witch haunting the uncovered chimney from which strange sounds emanated. The Cape Cod home had all the hallmarks of a typical poltergeist outbreak, including strong mechanical vibrations and the movement of specific objects in the home.

There were many credulous witnesses who saw the poltergeist events at the ruins of the abandoned McDonalds. The structure of the building was in shambles, and the children who snuck in after their sport activity had finished were certain that such alleged poltergeist manifestations were true.

The young boy asserted that his sportswear was haunted by a poltergeist and that is why he couldn’t participate in gym or outdoor activities. Really, he just didn’t want to wear them and decided to blame it on unseen forces and parapsychology.

The Princeton University library was haunted by a poltergeist who was disturbed from his resting place by late- night students. On the computers, he would replace the right word in an essay with his own list of words meant to haunt the students. This new list would contain hidden messages in the public domain and archives and scare the sleep-deprived students. Sometimes he would even throw small objects or an American Heritage dictionary at them.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word poltergeist?

There are many different words that a person could use in place of the word poltergeist. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word poltergeist is provided by Thesaurus

  •  phantasm
  •  visitor
  •  Doppelganger
  •  demon
  •  appearance
  •  spirit
  •  kelpie
  •  apparition
  •  haunter
  •  phantom
  •  spook
  •  revenant
  •  ghost
  •  vision
  •  specter
  •  banshee

Are also numerous words and phrases that mean the opposite of the word poltergeist. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word poltergeist is also provided by a Thesaurus

  •  presence
  •  perceptibility
  •  nuts and bolts
  •  substance
  •  verity
  •  bottom line
  •  object
  •  realness
  •  authenticity
  •  what’s what
  •  realism
  •  like it is
  •  substantive
  •  being
  •  verisimilitude
  •  way of it
  •  phenomenon
  •  corporeality
  •  deed
  •  substantiality
  •  entity
  •  certainty
  •  real world
  •  sensibility
  •  solidity
  •  materiality
  •  concreteness
  •  how things are
  •  truth
  •  validity
  •  actuality
  •  absoluteness
  •  matter
  •  palpability
  •  genuineness
  •  name of the game
  •  reality
  •  brass tacks
  •  tangibility
  •  existence

What is the origin of the word poltergeist?

According to Etymonline, the word poltergeist has been used since 1838, from the Middle High German word Poltergeist literally translated as “noisy ghost.” This comes from the Old High German poltern meaning to make noise or rattle, from the Proto-Indo-European root bhel meaning to sound or ring. This is also the source of related words bell and bellow. This was affixed to the German Geist ghost. In Northern England and Germany, most people credit such pranks and phenomena to a boggart in local folklore.

Overall, the word poltergeist refers to an unseen ghost that causes disruption – whether of physical objects, the creation of disorder, or other troublesome spirits. Poltergeist is also a film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is one of many German language words we use in the English language.


  1. poltergeist | Origin and meaning of poltergeist | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. poltergeist: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. POLTERGEIST Synonyms: 17 Synonyms & Antonyms for POLTERGEIST | Thesaurus 
  4. REALITY Synonyms: 48 Synonyms & Antonyms for REALITY | Thesaurus 
  5. Poltergeist | Definition of Poltergeist | Merriam-Webster