Navigate the JREF Website Join Now
James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

poltergeist Derived from the German words polter for “commotion” and geist for “spirit,” a poltergeist is a ghost of mischievous character, usually throwing things about and damaging the surroundings. Martin Luther referred to this type of manifestation and declared it to be the product of demons.
      Poltergeists usually show up in homes where a discontented adolescent lives, and the phenomena seem to take place only when that individual is present. When the discontent is relieved, the mischief ceases. It is interesting to note that in a significant percentage of these cases, the child is also adopted or living in a foster home.
      A modern case of such a haunting took place in Columbus, Ohio, at the home of the Resch family in 1984. See Columbus poltergeist.

[Encyclopedia Cover]

Click here to order a copy of the original hardcover edition of this Encyclopedia.

Copyright (C) 1995-2007 James Randi.

Created and maintained with the dictionary compilation software TshwaneLex.