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The Ghoul (Arabic Ghul) originates from Arabic folklore. Ghuls were said to belong to a diabolic class of the Jinn. They were female demons of the desert and graveyards, and were said to be the offspring of Ibilis, the Prince of Darkness. Ghuls were shape-shifters that could take the form of females. They would distract travellers in the desert and devour them. Ghuls were later anglicised and took the modern name "Ghoul".

For the record

The following section was part of the original article in this page but because of etymological errors, I've decided to put this in the notes section just for archival sake. The Ghast and Geist references have since been transferred to sections of their own. —Terra

A probable play on the words "ghoul" & "ghastly", the ghast is a character with its origins from the Dungeons And Dragons series. It is unlikely to have any mythological origins because there are no mythologic creatures called "ghasts". Ghouls are also creatures in Dungeons And Dragons, and of the same class as the ghast, albeit a less powerful one.
In FFI, there were no references to the "Ghast", but the creators of the game cooked up the term "Geist", a more powerful version of the Ghoul, akin to the DnD series. In FFIV however, the term "Ghast" was used.

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