EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR SPIRITS
For several weeks, there was no apparent change in Philothea's health or spirits.
The young man himself had recovered his spirits wonderfully.
His spirits rose, and he felt that life was just beginning for him.
Whenever he was fresh and full of spirits, he had enough to overflow upon her and every one.
Here my spirits revived, and I began to find excuses for the painters.
Our companion, like her husband, was full of health, spirits and information.
Day by day the spirits of the Syracusans sank lower and lower.
This important success raised the spirits of the Syracusans higher than ever.
"There are spirits in all things," said the Onondaga gravely.
Allis's success with Lauzanne had taken a load from her spirits.
mid-13c., "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Old French espirit, from Latin spiritus "soul, courage, vigor, breath," related to spirare "to breathe," from PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (cf. Old Church Slavonic pisto "to play on the flute").
Original usage in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah. Distinction between "soul" and "spirit" (as "seat of emotions") became current in Christian terminology (e.g. Greek psykhe vs. pneuma, Latin anima vs. spiritus) but "is without significance for earlier periods" [Buck]. Latin spiritus, usually in classical Latin "breath," replaces animus in the sense "spirit" in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Greek pneuma.
Meaning "supernatural being" is attested from c.1300 (see ghost); that of "essential principle of something" (in a non-theological sense, e.g. Spirit of St. Louis) is attested from 1690, common after 1800. Plural form spirits "volatile substance" is an alchemical idea, first attested 1610; sense narrowed to "strong alcoholic liquor" by 1670s. This also is the sense in spirit level (1768).