Difference Between Soul and Spirit

The main difference between soul and spirit is that the soul is the spiritual part what we carry after our death whereas a spirit can refer to a non-human entity as well.

The distinction between soul and spirit is highlighted in religious contexts. Therefore, these two terms are related to spirituality and religion. However, there is a slight difference between soul and spirit.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Soul
      – Definition, Religious Significance
2. What is Spirit
     – Definition, Usage, Characteristics
3. What is the Relationship Between Soul and Spirit
     – Outline of Association
3. What is the Difference Between Soul and Spirit
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Spirituality, Soul, Spirit, Religion

Difference Between Soul and Spirit_Comparison Summary

What is Soul

It is difficult to provide an exact definition to either of these terms since the definitions are based on one’s religious standpoint and attitudes. Nevertheless, as Oxford Dictionary explains, Soul refers to ‘the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal’. Moreover, Cambridge dictionary explains soul as ‘the spiritual part of a person that some people believe continues to exist in some form after their body has died, or the part of a person that is not physical and experiences deep feelings and emotions.’

Difference Between Soul and Spirit

Figure 1: Soul

However, soul is described in a varied manner in different religious contexts as well,

According to the teachings of Buddhism, soul known as ‘aatma’ is the conscience of a living being, and as everything changes in each changing moment (annattma), this mental entity also changes. Therefore, with one’s death, it is this conscience (or the soul) that gets reincarnated in either a physical or even non-physical form according to one’s karma.

According to Hinduism, soul known as ‘atman’ is explained as the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual.

According to Christianity, soul is a non-physical entity but integrally connected with the body. Its characteristics are described in moral, spiritual, and philosophical terms. Therefore, it is what reaches God and faces the Final Judgment in front of God.

Evidently, soul has more of a religious and spiritual significance; soul is what should be considered as an integral part of being human, giving a human a certain kind of an identity.

What is Spirit

Spirit is explained in Cambridge dictionary as ‘a particular way of thinking, feeling, or behaving, especially a way that is typical of a particular group of people, an activity, a time, or a place’. Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘non-physical part of a person regarded as their true self and as capable of surviving physical death or separation’.

Therefore, spirit is what gives life to our bodies or existence; it can thus refer to one’s personality. This is, however, on a metaphysical sense.

Main Difference - Soul vs Spirit

Figure 2: Ghostly Spirit

Moreover, spirit can also refer to a non-human entity or supernatural beings such as a fairy, demon, ghost, phantom or even the Holy Spirit of God as well. This fact is what mainly distinguishes between these two terms. Usually, the word spirit is used to refer to such super-natural or non-human forms.

Relationship Between Soul and Spirit

  • Both soul and spirit are related to one’s spirituality.

Difference Between Soul and Spirit


The soul can be regarded as one’s conscience which leaves the physical body after the death while the spirit can be regarded as one’s life force or a supernatural existence.

Related with

Soul is most often related with individual sense and spirituality, thus has a religious implication whereas spirit can refer to supernatural beings in addition to it being related with one’s life force. Therefore, rather than a religious outlook, spirit can be used in other non-religious contexts as well.


Most often these two terms, soul and spirit are used interchangeably due to their similar nature. However, they also carry slight differences between them. The main difference between soul and spirit is that the soul is the spiritual part what we carry after our death whereas a spirit can refer to a non-human entity as well. Therefore, even though spirit can be used to refer to a supernatural being; soul can only be referred to the individual’s spirituality.


1. “Spirit.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 July 2018, Available here.
2. “Soul.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 July 2018, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “626294” (CC0) via Pxhere
2. “Ghosts in the Hall” by Rachel Titiriga (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Upen

Upen, BA (Honours) in Languages and Linguistics, has academic experiences and knowledge on international relations and politics. Her academic interests are English language, European and Oriental Languages, Internal Affairs and International Politics, and Psychology.

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