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{{short description|A supernatural being}}{{other uses}}{{Spiritualism|main}}A spirit is a supernatural being, often, but not exclusively, a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" (with a capital "S"), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.The concepts of spirit and soul often overlap, and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions,OED "spirit 2.a.: The soul of a person, as commended to God, or passing out of the body, in the moment of death." and "spirit" can also have the sense of ghost, i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. Spirit is also often used to refer to the consciousness or personality.Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica.BOOK, Burtt, Edwin A., Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, 2003, Dover Publications, Inc, Mineola, New York, 275, 7 January 2015,


The English word "spirit" comes from the Latin , but also "spirit, soul, courage, vigor", ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European {{PIE|*(s)peis}}. It is distinguished from Latin , "soul" (which nonetheless also derives from an Indo-European root meaning "to breathe", earliest form {{PIE|*h2enh1-}}).anə-, from *ə2enə1-. Watkins, Calvert. 2000. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, second edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co., p.4. Also weblink" title="">available online. (NB: Watkins uses ə1, ə2, ə3 as fully equivalent variants for h1, h2, h3, respectively, for the notation of Proto-Indo-European laryngeal segments.) In Greek, this distinction exists between {{transl|grc|pneuma}} (), "breath, motile air, spirit," and {{transl|grc|psykhē}} (), "soul"François 2009, p.187-197. (even though the latter term, = {{transl|grc|psykhē/psūkhē}}, is also from an Indo-European root meaning "to breathe": {{PIE|*bhes-}}, zero grade {{PIE|*bhs-}} devoicing in proto-Greek to *phs-, resulting in historical-period Greek {{transl|grc|ps-}} in {{transl|grc|psūkhein}}, "to breathe", whence {{transl|grc|psūkhē}}, "spirit", "soul").bhes-2. Watkins, Calvert. 2000. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, second edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 2000, p.11. Also weblink" title="">available onlineThe word "spirit" came into Middle English via Old French. The distinction between soul and spirit also developed in the Abrahamic religions: Arabic {{transl|ar|nafs}} () opposite {{transl|ar|rūḥ}} (); Hebrew neshama ({{Hebrew|נְשָׁמָה}} {{transl|he|nəšâmâh}}) or nephesh ({{Hebrew|נֶ֫פֶשׁ}} {{transl|he|nép̄eš}}) (in Hebrew {{transl|he|neshama}} comes from the root {{transl|he|NŠM}} or "breath") opposite {{transl|he|ruach}} ({{Hebrew|רוּחַ}} {{transl|he|rúaħ}}). (Note, however, that in Semitic just as in Indo-European, this dichotomy has not always been as neat historically as it has come to be taken over a long period of development: Both {{Hebrew|נֶ֫פֶשׁ}} (root {{Hebrew|נפשׁ}}) and {{Hebrew|רוּחַ}} (root {{Hebrew|רוח}}), as well as cognate words in various Semitic languages, including Arabic, also preserve meanings involving miscellaneous air phenomena: "breath", "wind", and even "odour".Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1999). The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (711). Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill.Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed.) (659). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems. (N.B. Corresponds closely to printed editions.)Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed.) (924ff.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems. (N.B. Corresponds closely to printed editions.))


"Spirit" has acquired a number of meanings:
  • Christian theology can use the term "Spirit" to describe the Holy Spirit.
  • Christian Science uses "Spirit" as one of seven synonyms for God, as in: "Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love"BOOK, Eddy, Mary Baker, Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, txt, 2009-03-11, 1875, 587, Glossary,weblink GOD — The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.,
  • Latter Day Saint prophet Joseph Smith Jr. taught that the concept of spirit as incorporeal or without substance was incorrect: "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes."Doctrine and Covenants 131:7
  • In Mormonism, unlike souls (often regarded as eternal and sometimes believed to pre-exist the body) a spirit develops and grows as an integral aspect of a living being.WEB,weblink Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence,
  • Various forms of animism, such as Japan's Shinto and African traditional religion, focus on invisible beings that represent or connect with plants, animals, or landforms (kami){{Citation needed|date=July 2011}}: translators usually employ the English word "spirit" when trying to express the idea of such entities.
  • According to C. G. Jung (in a lecture delivered to the literary Society of Augsburg, 20 October 1926, on the theme of “Nature and Spirit”):

Related concepts

{{See also|Ruach HaKodesh}}Similar concepts in other languages include Greek pneuma and Sanskrit akasha / atman (see also prana). Some languages use a word for spirit often closely related (if not synonymous) to mind.{{cn|date=April 2019}} Examples include the German Geist (related to the English word ghost) or the French l'esprit. English versions of the Bible most commonly translate the Hebrew word ruach (רוח; wind) as "the spirit", whose essence is divine.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 2015-10-06, Ruach: Spirit or Wind or ???,, dmy-all, Alternatively, Hebrew texts commonly use the word nephesh. Kabbalists regard nephesh as one of the five parts of the Jewish soul, where nephesh (animal) refers to the physical being and its animal instincts. Similarly, Scandinavian, Baltic, and Slavic languages, as well as Chinese (气 qi), use the words for breath to express concepts similar to "the spirit".

See also

{{Div col|colwidth=30em}} {{Div col end}}



Further reading

  • {{Citation

| last = François
| first = Alexandre
| author-link =
| contribution = Semantic maps and the typology of colexification: Intertwining polysemous networks across languages
| editor-last = Vanhove
| editor-first = Martine
| title = From Polysemy to Semantic change: Towards a Typology of Lexical Semantic Associations
| volume = 106
| pages = 163–215
| publisher = Benjamins
| place = Amsterdam, New York
| year = 2008
| series = Studies in Language Companion Series
| isbn =
| url=weblink
| ref = polysemy

External links

  • {{Wiktionary-inline}}

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Eastern Philosophy
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