E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
To give up the ghost. To die. The idea is that life is independent of the body, and is due to the habitation of the ghost or spirit in the material body. At death the ghost or spirit leaves this tabernacle of clay, and either returns to God or abides in the region of spirits till the general resurrection. Thus in Ecc. xii. 7 it is said, Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?Job xiv. 10.
The ghost of a chance. The least likelihood. He has not the ghost of a chance of being elected, not the shadow of a probability.