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The term shade in classical mythology translates Greek σκιά, Wraith is a Scots word for ghost, spectre, or apparition.It appeared in Scottish Romanticist literature, and acquired the more general or figurative sense of portent or omen.Ritual feeding of the dead is performed in traditions like the Chinese Ghost Festival or the Western All Souls' Day.Magical banishment of the dead is present in many of the world's burial customs.In many traditional accounts, ghosts were often thought to be deceased people looking for vengeance (vengeful ghosts), or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life.

Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals rather than humans have also been recounted.In 18th- to 19th-century Scottish literature, it also applied to aquatic spirits.The word has no commonly accepted etymology; the OED notes "of obscure origin" only.This belief may have also fostered the metaphorical meaning of "breath" in certain languages, such as the Latin spiritus and the Greek pneuma, which by analogy became extended to mean the soul.In the Bible, God is depicted as synthesising Adam, as a living soul, from the dust of the Earth and the breath of God.Also from the Old English period, the word could denote the spirit of God, viz. The now-prevailing sense of "the soul of a deceased person, spoken of as appearing in a visible form" only emerges in Middle English (14th century).


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