A spirit is a supernatural being, often, but not exclusively, a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" , specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.
The concepts of spirit and soul often overlap, and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions, and "spirit" can also have the sense of ghost, i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. Spirit is also often used to refer to the consciousness or personality.
Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica.
The English word "spirit" comes from the Latin spiritus, but also "spirit, soul, courage, vigor", ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European *peis. It is distinguished from Latin anima, "soul". In Greek, this distinction exists between pneuma , "breath, motile air, spirit," and psykhē , "soul".
The word "spirit" came into Middle English via Old French. The distinction between soul and spirit also developed in the Abrahamic religions: Arabic nafs opposite rūḥ ; Hebrew neshama or nephesh נֶ֫פֶשׁ nép̄eš opposite ruach. and רוּחַ , as well as cognate words in various Semitic languages, including Arabic, also preserve meanings involving misc. air phenomena: "breath", "wind", and even "odour").
"Spirit" has acquired a number of meanings:
The connection between spirit and life is one of those problems involving factors of such complexity that we have to be on our guard lest we ourselves get caught in the net of words in which we seek to ensnare these great enigmas. For how can we bring into the orbit of our thought those limitless complexities of life which we call "Spirit" or "Life" unless we clothe them in verbal concepts, themselves mere counters of the intellect? The mistrust of verbal concepts, inconvenient as it is, nevertheless seems to me to be very much in place in speaking of fundamentals. "Spirit" and "Life" are familiar enough words to us, very old acquaintances in fact, pawns that for thousands of years have been pushed back and forth on the thinker's chessboard. The problem must have begun in the grey dawn of time, when someone made the bewildering discovery that the living breath which left the body of the dying man in the last death-rattle meant more than just air in motion. It can scarcely be an accident onomatopoeic words like ruach , ruch , roho mean ‘spirit’ no less clearly than πνεύμα and spiritus.