Euphemism: Paranormal investigator

National Media Museum Collection

By Mark Peters

par·a·nor·mal in·ves·ti·ga·tor (n.): What do you call someone who searches for specters and spirits and other ectoplasmic beasties?

“Ghost hunter” would seem the logical choice, with a clear meaning and recorded history dating from the late 1800s. But some apparition attackers prefer more elevated language: such as “paranormal investigator.”


Colin Browen, who is hosting a new ghost-centric show on the Beyond network called “Teen Spirit,” leans toward the lengthier term. In an article for the Argus Leader in South Dakota, Alexa Giebink writes that Browen finds the term “ghost hunting” to be “warped and stigmatized.” She quotes Browen, already an experienced specter stalker at 20 years old, as saying, “I can tell you I’ve been to the most haunted places in the United States, and I’ve never seen anything like [Hollywood representation of ghosts].”

Job title inflation is everywhere, so why not the ghost-busting game? Paranormal investigator still isn’t as frightening as branding ninja.

Mark Peters is the Ideas language writer.