We have compiled the following list of common ghost hunting and paranormal acronyms, key words, and other useful lingo for your reading pleasure.

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Anniversary Imprint: An imprint that usually manifests around the same time each year. See Residual Haunting.

Apparition: The appearance of a ghost or spirit, usually taking the form of a visual image of a deceased individual in either real life or on film. However there are apparitions based on each of the five senses. Usually visual, auditory, tactile, or olfactory apparitions appear in conjunction with each other, but occasionally only one of the senses are involved. Very rarely is the sense of taste involved. Examples include:

  • Visual:The appearance of a person who was commonly associated with the area in life.
  • Auditory:Sounds of walking, voices, doors opening, or battle are the most common types of auditory apparitions.
  • Olfactory:Smells or odors, such as perfume or cigar smoke, commonly associated with the area or an individual or event.
  • Tactile:Feeling a slight wind in a closed-off room, or a slight tug on a person’s clothing with nobody in the immediate vicinity.

Astral Projection: The conscious initiation of an out-of-body experience.

Aura: Energy or life force surrounding all living individuals. The color of an aura can determine the mood or physical condition of an individual. Spirits can sometimes use a physical aura for energy, thereby depleting the person whose energy was taken.

Automatic Writing: Expressing subconscious thoughts or influences by doodling.


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No glossary terms for “B”

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Chi: Asian term for a “life force” or biological energy that is inhaled and can be manipulated for specific purposes (also called Ki).

Clairvoyance: The ability to obtain knowledge based on unexplainable intuition, vision, or various psychic senses.

Clearing or Cleaning: Ridding a location of ghostly activity.

Cold Spots: Self-contained patches of cool air strewn about haunted locations. They may be ghosts that cannot fully materialize.

Collective Apparition: When more than one person witnesses a ghost or spirit phenomenon, independently or simultaneously, it is classed as a collective apparition. Nearly ten percent of reported cases of apparitions fall into this category, and once fraud has been ruled out, they are more likely to be genuine sightings.

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Doppelganger: A ghost of the present that looks identical to a living person but behaves differently.

Double: A ghost of the present that looks and behaves identically to a living person.

Dowsing: Interpreting the motions of rods, sticks, pendulums, and other such instruments to obtain information (also called divining).

Dream Communication: Experience in which the departed individual (spirit) can manifest in the form of a dream in order to communicate with the living. Usually associated with the very recent death of the individual attempting to make contact in order to inform the dreamer of his or her death.

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Ectoplasm: Commonly understood to be a substance secreted by spirits and exuded from mediums communicating with the spirit world, ectoplasm is now widely associated with a cloudy vaporous mist that may take the form of a human body. It has been captured photographically, and is seen to hover above the ground as a swirl of gray or white matter. It may linger in one place or travel fast and is usually spotted outdoors.

Electromagnetic Energy: A hybrid of electrical charges and magnetic fields that binds nature.

Entity: A conscious, interactive ghost.

Epicenter: Person or persons that a poltergeist or haunting tends to focus on. Paranormal phenomena usually increases when the epicenter is present.

ESP: Extrasensory perception. Most individuals have this ability, although in can be dormant their entire life, In many cases, a traumatic event may allow a percipient to actually communicate with the spirit of a dead individual.

Etheric Body: A layer of the physical body, mimicking its design, but composed entirely of energy.

Evil Spirit: A shape-shifting non-human spirit that usually appears after being summoned, either with a Ouija board or through satanic worship. It can appear as a monster or may disguise itself as a friendly spirit, but it is dangerous and seeks to harm and cause destruction.

EVP: Acronym for “electronic voice phenomena”; capturing ghostly sounds and/or words on an audio recording.

Exorcism: Ridding a person or a location of evil spirits by using religious rites.


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No glossary terms for “F”

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Ghost: A recording of one or more persons or objects that had either a repetitious routine or a very intense emotional experience. This recording is not sentient, but rather simply something that plays over and over, gradually losing energy over time, This recording can be recharged under certain circumstances, such as the appearance of certain individuals. (see Epicenter)

Ghost Hunter: A person who investigates hauntings to find explanations for possible paranormal phenomena involved. There are two types of ghost hunters. The first kind is the scientific hunter who uses scientific methods and equipment in order to make accurate calculations and observations about a haunting. The second type is the psychic or intuitive ghost hunter, who uses psychic impressions or intuition to learn about a haunted area.

Ghost Lights: These have been sighted all over the world and in many cultures. They are mysterious lights, seen at a distance, usually appearing as blue or yellow spheres, which can appear to blink. Some reports liken them to a bobbing candle flame. This phenomenon is also know but its Latin name ignis fatuus, or “foolish flame,” because anyone attempting to follow or catch one of these lights is thought to place himself or herself in mortal danger. Skeptics attribute it to swamp gas, magnetism, or electricity. Ghost lights have been reported for centuries and were once known as “will-‘o-the-wisp,” an omen of death representing the ghost of a sinner condemned to wander the earth forever.

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Harbinger: A ghost of the future that brings warning of impending events.

Haunting: Any repeated appearance of phenomena commonly associated with ghosts, spirits, or poltergeists. Usually a combination of cold spots, apparitions, missing objects, and other forms of paranormal activity that tend to be witnessed by more than one person over an extended period of time.

Hoax: A pre-staged or preplanned series of events to give the impression that something paranormal has been occurring in any given place. Usually made by people who wish to draw attention to themselves or to debunk or test ghost hunters and parapsychologists.

Hot Spot: A site within a haunted location where the activity is prominent and/or energy fields are focused.

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Imprint: Ghostly activity that appears non-conscious and redundant.

Ion: A electrically charged atom or molecule.


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Magnetosphere: The magnetic field surrounding the earth.

Manifestation: The tangible signs of a haunting, including tactile, auditory, olfactory, and visual. These can be measured in an investigation and can be used to support the evidence that a place is indeed haunted. (See also Apparition)

Medium: A person who channels a spirit, or through whom a spirit or entity communicates.


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Natural: A rare phenomenon that appears ghostly but in fact is created by some scientifically known property of the present nature.

Necromancy: Interacting with the dead, particularly for the purpose of communicating or resurrection.

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Orbs: Visible translucent spheres of light which hover above the ground and dart erratically through the air. Many believe that ghosts prefer to take on an orb shape, as it requires less energy than other apparitions. They differ from those photographed in ghost scenes that show orbs as spherical lights (rather than a flickering flame), some with a nucleus, others transparent. This kind of orb is credited with being the reflected camera flash bouncing back to the camera lens from dust or moisture.  They are not considered as indications of a true spirit presence.

Original Momentum: The initial force or energy necessary to create motion telekinetically.

Ouija Board: A board with letters and numbers on which a planchette (or marker) is placed in order to communicate with spirits of the dead. Usually used in divination, it can actually be used to summon spirits other than those initially sought after. It is very difficult to rid an area of a spirit that has been conjured through a Ouija board.

Out-Of-Body Experience: When one’s consciousness exits the restrictions of the physical body (also called OBE).

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Paranormal: Anything out of the normal range of explanation. Term is usually used in conjunction with ghosts, UFO’s, and other phenomena that cannot be explained by traditional scientific theories and hypothesis.

Paranormal Group: A group of individuals dedicated to discussing, investigating, or exploring possible explanations to hauntings and other paranormal or supernatural events.

Paranormal Research: The study of phenomena currently considered unexplainable by the mainstream sciences.

Percipient: An individual involved with or observing a paranormal event.

Phantom Animals: Many corporeal ghosts take the form of animals rather than humans. It may be the benign spirit of a loved pet or faithful companion which appears to its master and is often seen performing a habitual act, such as lying in front of the fire or waiting by the front door. However, there are many sightings of strange and malevolent beasts such as ghostly black dogs, phantom birds, or horses.

PK: Acronym for “psychokineses” see Telekinesis).

Poltergeist: German for “noisy ghost.” A paranormal manifestation that is generally centered around an individual (usually an adolescent going through puberty) in which objects disappear or are thrown about. The individual the phenomenon is centered around is called the epicenter. There is very little communication between the spirit and the epicenter, and many researchers believe that the cause of the poltergeist is actually a latent telekinetic ability rather than an actual spirit.

Portal: A theoretical doorway of energy, through which spirits may be able to enter or exit a location. 

Possessed Objects: Inanimate objects that move, change appearance, or make noise. Sometimes an episode occurs while a person is watching, or they return to find that a disturbance has taken place while they were away. They include vehicles such as ghost ships or phantom trains heard bumping along tracks that were removed many years earlier. This phenomenon is often associated with the influence of a ghost that is emotionally attached to a place or object and may be showing anger or disapproval of how the present-day occupants or owners have changed it. Ghost vehicles are often linked to a fatal accident.

Possession (of a person by a spirit): The entry of a spirit into the body of a willing or unwilling host, in which the spirit takes control of the individual’s motor and cognitive functions.

Precognition: Seeing or knowing activity received from the future using ESP.

Premonition: A psychic awareness of future events, often with a negative outcome.

Primary Readings: The initial measurements of energy taken at a haunted location, used for establishing an

investigation’s direction.

Psi: A general, all-encompassing term for “psychic phenomena.”

Psionic: The use of physical tools to assist in accessing or interpreting one’s ESP.

Psychic: Phenomena rooted in ESP and spiritualism; also a person gifted with ESP.

Psychic Impression: A form of idea or message that a percipient may encounter about an area, a person, or an event. Usually associated with precognition, retro-cognition, or psychometric.

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Recording: See Ghost.

Residual Haunting: This is the playback of a past event, trapped in a continuous loop. It is often associated with past events involving great trauma and tragedy. A person is seen or heard performing a repetitive action—walking down a flight of stairs, crossing a garden, screaming in agony—at the same time or place and by many different independent witnesses. Researchers believe that it is possible for certain building materials to retain the energy of an event, and “record” it electromagnetically in a similar way to modern video or audio tape, and then replay the eerie fragment when the atmospheric conditions are right, or when a person who is especially sensitive to its bizarre energy passes by.

Retro-cognition: Seeing or knowing activity from the past using ESP.

Revenant: An entity that comes back only a few times after death.

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Séance: A meeting of individuals in order to contact the spirit of a deceased loved one or other person (usually consisting of a medium, assistants, loved ones of the departed, or other interested individuals). Many séances were exposed as hoaxes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Shadow Ghosts: Easily confused with normal shadows, these dark ghostly apparitions are often spotted at a distance or in peripheral vision, and are between two and ten feet long. They are often experienced as a small darting essence in the corner of the eye, or as a larger and more menacing humanoid presence.

Spirit: The actual consciousness or soul of an individual that has passed on and continues to be observed in an area. There are four main reasons that spirits exist: (1) The person does not realize that he or she is dead; (2) there is unfinished business or an un-kept promise after death; (3) the spirit is simply saying goodbye to a loved one; and (4) the spirit has returned to offer advice.

Spiritualism: Belief in a spiritual world and/or the ability to communicate with spirits of the dead.

Synchronicity: The product of numerous, seemingly unrelated variables joining to create a common event or remarkable “coincidence.”

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Telepathy: The process by which a mind can communicate directly with another without using normal, physical interaction or ordinary sensory perception.

Telekinesis: The ability to control one’s physical environment without using physical manipulation or force (also known as psychokinetic, TK, or PK.

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Vortex: The center of spiritual energy, where it is focused or concentrated. Usually accompanied by cold spots, electromagnetic disturbances, and increased paranormal activity.

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Warp: A location where the known laws of physics do not always apply and space/time may be distorted.

Wraith: Sometimes a person sees a loved one appear briefly to them, or hears their voice offering a warning or advice. The loved one needn’t be a ghost; they are often alive and many miles away. In some cases these appearances coincide with the death of the loved one, or occur during a time of crisis for the witness.

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More Paranormal Terminology