a ghost or spirit supposed to manifest its presence by noises, knockings, etc.

1840–50; < German Poltergeist, equivalent to polter(n) to make noise, knock, rattle + Geist ghost

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World English Dictionary
poltergeist (ˈpɒltəˌɡaɪst)
a spirit believed to manifest its presence by rappings and other noises and also by acts of mischief, such as throwing furniture about
[C19: from German, from poltern to be noisy + Geistghost]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1838, from Ger. Poltergeist, lit. "noisy ghost," from poltern "make noise, rattle" (from PIE base *bhel- "to sound, ring, roar") + Geist "ghost" (see ghost). In the native idiom of Northern England, such phenomenon likely would be credited to a boggart.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


(from German Polter, "noise" or "racket"; Geist, "spirit"), in occultism, a disembodied spirit or supernatural force credited with certain malicious or disturbing phenomena, such as inexplicable noises, sudden wild movements, or breakage of household items. Poltergeists are also blamed for violent actions-throwing stones or setting fire to clothing and furniture. Such events are said to be sporadic, unpredictable, and often repetitive.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
But she's dark and driven: there's something of the poltergeist about her.
The drawers of a wobbly dresser periodically opened by themselves, as if the room had a poltergeist.
There is a poltergeist named peeves in the harry potter books.
This is the opposite of a poltergeist a spirit obsessed with cleaning and tidying.
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