Halloween Idioms

There's something amazing about Halloween time. Whether it's the crisp autumn air or the idea of coming up with a bizarre and slightly terrifying Halloween costume, it's hard not to get into the festive holiday spirit. So how does Halloween-related terminology factor into our every day English language conversations? We use spooky idioms all the time, even when we aren't aware of it! When learning English, it helps to have a strong understanding of what these sorts of idioms mean so you can use them effectively in day-to-day conversation. So how many of these do you already know and how many are completely new to you? Let's find out!


Blood run cold

halloween – blood run cold

Meaning: This means you are so frightened that you can feel it all over.


Devil's advocate

Halloween – devil's advocate

Meaning: Someone who plays "devil's advocate" is a person who argues an unpopular opinion for the sake of the argument.


Dig one's grave

Halloween – Dig one's grave

Meaning: You are 'digging your own grave' when you do something which you know will cause you trouble.


In cold blood

Halloween – In cold blood

Meaning: To do something "in cold blood" is to act in a purposefully ruthful manner.


Like a bat out of Hell

Halloween - Like a bat out of hell

Meaning: This term is used to describe something that happens very quickly or suddenly.


Over my dead body

Halloween – Over my dead body

Meaning: This is used when you refuse to let someone do something.


Skeleton in the closet

Halloween - Skeleton in the closet

Meaning: Someone with "skeletons in their closet" is someone who has something they don't want to tell you about.


Skeleton staff

Halloween - skeleton staff

Meaning: A project that requires "skeleton staff" is one that needs the smallest possible number of people to be completed.


Stab in the back

Halloween – stab in the back

Meaning: This common phrase refers to a friend or acquaintance betraying you for their own personal gain. The most famous depiction of this comes from the assassination of Julius Caesar, in which he is literally stabbed in the back.


Witch hunt

Halloween - witch hunt

Meaning: The deliberate harassment of people with opposing views. This term comes from the literal hunts that towns used to take part in to uncover people believed to be practicing witchcraft or dark magic in the Middle Ages and up into the late 1800s.


How many do you think you can put into use in your everyday language? Take our quiz and test your knowledge of these spooky idioms.


Did any of these phrases surprise you? Have you heard of any others? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to learn more about how you can study English at one of our schools across the world? Check out some of Kaplan's General or Intensive English courses.

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