Below is a list of basic terms that are commonly used during paranormal investigations:

It’s a big, wide unexplained world where the dead refuse to go away, mysterious creatures stalk the land and inhuman visitors can’t get enough of our company. Here is a basic breakdown of some popular paranormal words.

Afterlife: Life after death.

Anomaly: Something that cannot be explained, usually something caught on camera.

Apparition: Apparition: Any proposed ghost that seems to have been caught visually on camera or seen with your own eyes.

Clearing or Cleansing: Getting rid of ghostly activity in a specific location.

Coleration: The feeling of a hair or cobweb on you when there is not anything on you. Thought to be a spirit or ghost brushing up against you.

Cold Spots: Areas of cooler air found in locations with paranormal activity.

Cryptozoology: The study and pursuit of cryptids, creatures traditionally considered mythical, folkloric or previously extinct. Example: Bigfoot, chupacabra, Loch Ness Monster.

Disembodied Voice: A voice or noise that lacks an explainable source.

Ectoplasm: Ectoplasm is a term used in spiritualism to denote a substance or spiritual energy “exteriorized” by physical mediums. It was coined in 1894 by psychical researcher Charles Richet.

EMF (Electromagnetic Field or Electromagnetic Frequency): A combination of electrical and magnetic fields. EMF fields are commonly measured as part of the ghost hunting process.

EMF Detector: A device used to detect Electromagnetic frequencies in an area being investigated.

Entity: Any being, including people and ghosts.

Epicenter: Person or persons that a poltergeist or haunting tends to focus on. Paranormal phenomena usually increase when the epicenter is present.

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena): The act of capturing and recording disembodied voices and sounds that are not heard with your own ears.

Exorcism: Ridding a person or a location of evil spirits by using religious rites.

Ghost: A sentient entity that visits or lingers in our world after death. Different than a spirit, as it usually does not display intelligence and cannot communicate directly.

Ghost Hunters: People who investigate locations to find explanations for possible paranormal phenomena involved.

Ghost Lights: Mysterious lights, seen at a distance, usually appearing as blue or yellow spheres, which can appear to blink, change color, change in size, or blink.

Haunting/Haunted: Describes a location where there appears to be a very significant amount of paranormal activity. Often includes a combination of cold spots, apparitions, missing objects, and other repeated phenomena witnessed by several people which leads to the location getting a reputation for this activity. We do not use this term often, and usually, places are often labeled as having paranormal activity only.


Intelligent Haunting: Activity resulting from an aware ghost or spirit that interacts with its environment.

K2 Meter: An EMF detector with a row of lights, that spirits can manipulate to communicate.

Laser Grid Pen: A pen similar to a regular laser pen, but with several dots that are projected across a room to detect movement.

Manifestation: The tactile, auditory, olfactory, and visual signs of a ghost or spirit that seems to be forming at that direct time.

Medium: Someone who communicates with spirits and the other side.


Orbs: Spheres of translucent light (often whitish or pastel-colored), usually appearing in photographs. Many investigators believe they represent spirits or ghosts but are often disproved as bugs, dust, or water molecules.

Paranormal: Anything outside the realm and experiences we call normal. Often used to describe ghosts, UFOs and other phenomena that defy traditional scientific explanations.

Percipient: A person involved with or observing a paranormal event.

Physical Manipulation: When an object of some sort is thought to be moved or physically altered by a ghost or spirit (such as lights going on and off and objects moving without any human interaction).

PK (Psychokinesis): Also known as Telekinesis.

Poltergeist: A spirit who makes noise or plays pranks. Often thought to center around specific individuals (such as teenagers) and perhaps not ghosts at all but rather a form of latent telekinetic ability.

Portal: A doorway through which spirits enter and exit a location.

Possession: When a person, or even an inanimate object, is taken over by a spirit or ghost. Not always a demonic entity that does this.

Primary Readings: The initial measurements of energy taken at a haunted location, used for establishing an investigation’s direction.

Psychic: Can relate to the spirit or mind, depending upon the context. Psychics are people who can see things outside physical laws and perceptions.


Residual Energy: When emotionally charged events leave an imprint or energy residue on nearby objects and locations. Residual energy will often repeat a specific event from the past over and over again, as if on a loop, such as the same footsteps walking down a hallway.

Seance (aka Contact Ceremony): A gathering of individuals to contact the spirit of a deceased loved one or other person (usually consisting of a medium, assistants, loved ones of the departed, or other interested individuals). 

Shadow Person: A commonly-reported inky black humanoid entity that moves fast, it is often spotted out of the corner of the eye and has been interpreted to be anything from a ghost or demon, to alien, time traveler or inter-dimensional being.

 Spirit: From Latin meaning “that which breathes,” it describes the consciousness or soul of an individual. In the ghost hunting context, this refers to the soul of an individual who has passed on and continues to be observed in an area. Different than a ghost, as it is able to communicate directly and often displays intelligence.

Spirit Box: A tool used by ghost hunters. It sweeps radio waves and spirits can manipulate the audio to speak through it.

Telekinesis: The ability to control one’s physical environment without using physical manipulation or force (also known as psychokinesis, TK, or PK).

Telepathy: The process by which a mind can communicate directly with another without using normal, physical interaction or ordinary sensory perception.

Vortex: A center of focused or concentrated spiritual energy.


TOPS is not your average paranormal investigation group. We meet regularly and conduct investigations in a very rigorous manner. Some people would say what we love what we do! Do you think you’re up to the task?