For creating a paper about personal development in German, I use some English studies. I often find the words "mind" and "spirit" which have an identical German translation in online dictionaries. How can I best describe the difference?

  • I assume that German translation is "geist", right? Jan 9, 2016 at 7:57

3 Answers 3


The common thing between the two is they describe a nonphysical part of a person. Now lets define each to get the difference.

Usually when you say "spirit" you are referring to the attitude of a person. It describes emotional things like motivation, courage, enthusiasm, etc.

"Mind" on the other hand describes the intellect and intelligence. The part of a person that has sense and logic and is not driven by emotions. The part that processes and memorizes things.


If you have another translated word for the noun soul, I think it could best describe the noun spirit as they are often times synonymous.

According to Oxford Online Dictionary mind is defined:

The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought: a lot of thoughts ran through my mind.

You use Holy Spirit for the third person of the Trinity, not Holy Mind.

You use spirit when you refer to the non-physical part of a person manifested as an apparition after their death. You don't use mind for this context.

Mind enables you to think and feel and is closer to your brain's logical function, but spirit is closer to your emotions (mood) and character (attitude).

[Oxford Online Dictionary]


According to my dictionary, spirit means "The inner part of a person that includes the feelings, thoughts and character."

According to my knowledge, our feelings (e.g. the feeling of love or hate, or hurt, etc.) are brought about by the heart, our thoughts are brought about by the mind or brain, and our character is brought about by both the mind and heart. For whatever we think or feel is portrayed physically; that is character.

For example, if a person is good, people will see his good character traits, and if a person is bad, people will see his bad character traits.

  • Which dictionary are you citing?
    – Davo
    Feb 22, 2019 at 17:38

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