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[sohl] /soʊl/
the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come:
arguing the immortality of the soul.
the disembodied spirit of a deceased person:
He feared the soul of the deceased would haunt him.
the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments.
a human being; person.
high-mindedness; noble warmth of feeling, spirit or courage, etc.
the animating principle; the essential element or part of something.
the inspirer or moving spirit of some action, movement, etc.
the embodiment of some quality:
He was the very soul of tact.
(initial capital letter) Christian Science. God; the divine source of all identity and individuality.
shared ethnic awareness and pride among black people, especially black Americans.
deeply felt emotion, as conveyed or expressed by a performer or artist.
of, characteristic of, or for black Americans or their culture:
soul newspapers.
Origin of soul
before 900; Middle English; Old English sāwl, sāwol; cognate with Dutch ziel, German Seele, Old Norse sāl, Gothic saiwala
Related forms
soullike, adjective
undersoul, noun
1. spirit. 4. heart. 7. essence, core, heart. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for soul
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Menehwehna had gone; he was free of him, and this day was to deliver his soul.

    Fort Amity Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • Then I heard a voice, saying, 'Lo, the soul seeketh to ascend!'

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • In this world for him there were only three Facts—God, his own soul, and the soul to whom he spoke.

    Confessions of a Book-Lover Maurice Francis Egan
  • The good bishop believed she had jeopardised her soul with divorce.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Is the note of praise to be found in the streets of my soul?

British Dictionary definitions for soul


the spirit or immaterial part of man, the seat of human personality, intellect, will, and emotions, regarded as an entity that survives the body after death related adjective pneumatic
(Christianity) the spiritual part of a person, capable of redemption from the power of sin through divine grace
the essential part or fundamental nature of anything
a person's feelings or moral nature as distinct from other faculties
  1. Also called soul music. a type of Black music resulting from the addition of jazz, gospel, and pop elements to the urban blues style
  2. (as modifier): a soul singer
(modifier) of or relating to Black Americans and their culture: soul brother, soul food
nobility of spirit or temperament: a man of great soul and courage
an inspiring spirit or leading figure, as of a cause or movement
a person regarded as typifying some characteristic or quality: the soul of discretion
a person; individual: an honest soul
the life and soul, See life (sense 28)
upon my soul!, an exclamation of surprise
Derived Forms
soul-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sāwol; related to Old Frisian sēle, Old Saxon sēola, Old High German sēula soul


(Christian Science) another word for God
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for soul

"A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills" [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being," from Proto-Germanic *saiwalo (cf. Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea," because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as "from the lake," as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

Meaning "spirit of a deceased person" is attested in Old English from 971. As a synonym for "person, individual, human being" (e.g. every living soul) it dates from early 14c. Soul-searching (n.) is attested from 1871, from the phrase used as a past participle adjective (1610s). Distinguishing soul from spirit is a matter best left to theologians.

"instinctive quality felt by black persons as an attribute," 1946, jazz slang, from soul (n.1). Also from this sense are soul brother (1957), soul sister (1967), soul food (1957), etc. Soul music, essentially gospel music with "girl," etc., in place of "Jesus," first attested 1961; William James used the term in 1900, in a spiritual/romantic sense, but in reference to inner music.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for soul

shook up

adj phr,adj

  1. In a state of high excitement or extreme disturbance; very much upset: So Woody kept his voice down, but he was all shook up (entry form 1897+, first variant 1891+)
  2. Very happy; exhilarated; high: I expected years in prison; they let me go free, boy was I shook up (1950s+ Teenagers & rock and roll)

[revived and popularized in 1950s by Elvis Presley]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with soul


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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