The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.

This is taken from The Adventure of Sussex Vampire. In one conversation Sherlock Holmes mention this two sentences.

I think in No ghosts need apply, need is a modal verb, and mean need to. But what is the meaning of apply here?

I think it means No ghosts have practical applicability, or in other word They are not real

Am I right?

  • @StoneyB Yes, sorry for the spelling mistake. I will edit it to make the correction. Thanks you. Jul 15, 2014 at 13:52

1 Answer 1


This is something of a turn of phrase. You might see on a job advertisement:

Cleaner wanted. No time wasters need apply

What Holmes means is that there is there is enough to discover in the world without creating fictional things (like ghosts). He doesn't literally mean that ghosts 'apply' to manifest themselves in the world.

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