Basic Terminology

There are many terms associated with paranormal research and investigations, many of them not commonly used. The below words are common terminology often used in the paranormal field and heard by the general population but whose meanings may not always be clearly understood.


Apparition – The appearance of a spirit, usually taking the form of a visual image of a deceased individual.

Cold Spot –  Describes an area of localized coldness or a sudden decrease in ambient temperature that is allegedly connected to paranormal activity.  It is believed that when a spirit tries to materialize itself in the physical plain, it draws on the energy in its surrounding environment. Heat is a form of energy, so the spirit could be drawing the heat out of the air around it in an effort to materialize.

EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) – A combination of electrical and magnetic fields. EMF levels are found around power sources such as fuse boxes, electrical outlets, computer monitors, microwave ovens, etc. Areas with unexplained EMF fields may indicate something paranormal present.

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) – Disembodied voices and sounds imprinted on audio recording devices which aren’t physically heard at the time the voices are captured. There are three categories of EVP: Grade A, Grade B and Grade C.
Grade A: Very clear and in which all who listen to the EVP hear the same thing.
Grade B: May be considered clear audio by some but unclear by others. There is usually different opinions on what is being said in the EVP.
Grade C: Very unclear. No words within the EVP can clearly be made out.

Intelligent Spirit –  Whereas a residual spirit is a type of energy that has no consciousness, an intelligent spirit does have consciousness. These spirits are known to interact with the living.

MatrixingThe brain’s natural attempt to make sense of what it sees. Patterns are usually the cause of matrixing. Pixels in photographs may sometimes be bunched together, causing an unnatural image in a photo. The brain doesn’t recognize this blot of pixels and turns it into something it can recognize and make sense of, which is usually in the form of a face.

Orb – A spherical image, usually translucent white, though sometimes of a colored hue, which inexplicably registers in photographs and video. Dust, bugs and moisture are sometimes often mistaken as orbs.

Paranormal – A word meaning “unknown” or “beyond the normal” that has come to refer to events that are unexplainable.

Residual Spirit – Not as much of a spirit as it is a recording of specific energy; a recording of past energy. It is believed that in a location where a person released a large amount of energy or where heightened emotions were experienced, the energy imbeds itself. As a result of the lingering energy, individuals in the future may get to experience seeing a type of “recording” of these past events.

Vortex – An anomalous form that can appear in photographs, usually appearing as a long whirlwind or column of light. A popular theory is that a vortex can be used as a way for spirits to travel to and from the spirit world to our own world and are said to be the center of an associated paranormal disturbance.