"Hungry ghost" is one of the six modes of existence (see Six Realms). Hungry ghosts are pitiable creatures with huge, empty stomachs. They have pinhole mouths, and their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so they remain hungry. Beings are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy. Hungry ghosts are also associated with addiction, obsession and compulsion.
The Sanskrit word for "hungry ghost" is "preta," which means "departed one."
Many schools of Buddhism leave food offerings on altars for hungry ghosts. In the summer there are hungry ghost festivals throughout Asia that feature food and entertainment for the hungry ghosts.