Geist (German pronunciation: [ˈɡaɪst]) is a German word.
Depending on context it can be translated as the English words mind, spirit, or ghost, covering the semantic field of these three English nouns. Some English translators resort to using “spirit/mind” or “spirit (mind)” to help convey the meaning of the term.
Edmund Spenser‘s usage of the English-language word ‘ghost’, in his 1590 The Faerie Queene, demonstrates the former, broader meaning of the English-language term. In this context, the term describes the sleeping mind of a living person, rather than a ghost, or spirit of the dead.
The word Geist is etymologically identical to the English ghost (from a Common Germanic *gaistaz) but has retained its full range of meanings, while some applications of the English word ghost had become obsolete by the 17th century, replaced with the Latinate spirit. For this reason, English-language translators of the term Geist from the German language face some difficulty in rendering the term, and often disagree as to the best translation in a given context.