Here is a short and handy definition guide to help you keep ghosts and ghouls straight…you never know when you will need to be able to distinguish a phantom from a zombie.
This is not meant to be a fancy, formal, encyclopedic presentation of a detailed, research project with footnotes, pages of references, and experimental variables. It represents bits of knowledge gleaned over the course of my preparation for this blog series.
Apparition – this is an image of a ghost – it shows up and then goes away.
Elemental – these guys are nature spirits, like fairies. Technically, elementals are not in the same category of supernatural beings as ghosts are. But because some nature spirits are the spirits of dead people – like the Filipino Engkanto – I included them here.
Ghost – soul of a deceased person that returns from the dead.
Ghoul – demonic sort who eats flesh. Western definitions of the ghoul gave it the penchant for grave-robbing.
Jinni (or djinni)– supernatural spirit that exists in our world and beyond. It is not a the spirit of a departed human and can be evil, neutral, or benevolent. “Djinn beings between angels and man. As powerful as an angel with the free will of a human.” That came from a blogger commenter: http://djinniaandtheenglishlanguage.blogspot.com/
Monster – creature that doesn’t fit neatly into any ghost category (like Nessy, werewolves, or yetis).
Phantom – ghost who lurks on lonely roads or secluded hikes.
Poltergeist – a house ghost that throws things, makes noise and mischief. One might say it is kind of like an invisible estranged spouse.
Revenant – ghostly spirit in the early days of death.
Spectre – synonym for ghost.
Spirit – the inner being of a living or supernatural entity.
Supernatural being – non-human being who dwells anywhere. A dead human being who returns to the living world is also a supernatural critter. Ghosts are but one type of supernatural entity.
Vampire – a dead person who returns to feast on the blood or body parts of the living.
Wraith – a ghostly image of someone, right before or right after they die.
Zombie – a reanimated corpse with a little help from its friends (or enemies). The traditional zombie is of Haitian origins and is under the control or spell of a sorcerer.
Who did I forget? What needs to be added to the definitions? Let’s wiki this one up!
Copyright 2015 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.
PHOTO CREDIT: By Kunstkai / CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons