Ghosting and Haunting

To “ghost” as a verb meaning to suddenly disappear—cease all contact with someone, especially in a would-be romantic relationship, mostly online—has become very popular usage during the past decade, and almost everyone knows what it means. 

But it struck me recently that ghosts are traditionally known for the opposite behavior: unexpectedly appearing when the living original has departed.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the main traditional meaning of “to ghost” was “to haunt.” 

However, a more modern usage suggests invisibility: someone who writes a book published under the name of someone else is said to be a ghostwriter who ghosts manuscripts for pay, like Tony Schwartz. That may well be the inspiration for using “ghost” to mean “disappear.”

But using the contemporary idiom, you could certainly be haunted by the memory of someone who ghosted you.

See “A New Meaning of the Verb 'Ghost'“ at Merriam-Webster.

Also “Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment” in the New York Times.

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