Quick English: Halloween Vocabulary

It's officially October, which means that Halloween is coming fast. This is the perfect time of year to talk about costumes, candy, and what scares you! But do you know how to talk about all of these things in English? When you're first learning English, it's helpful to study up on common terminology, especially holiday-related terms. Here are some popular Halloween vocabulary words that should make talking about your nights out easier. See how many words you might recognize!


Boogeyman (US) /Bogeyman (UK) (n.)

[pronounced: ˈboʊɡimen]

An imaginary spirit used to scare children.

"Did you check under the bed for the boogeyman?"

What kind of ghost has the best dance moves?
The boogeyman! 


Cackle (n., v.)

A loud, shrill laugh, usually associated with cartoony witches. Can also be used as the verb "to cackle."

"The cackle at the end of 'Thriller' always scares me."


Costume (US)/Fancy Dress (UK) (n.)

The clothing worn by someone to look like someone else.

"What's your costume for the Halloween party? Are you dressing up as a witch or a cat?"
"Are you going in fancy dress to the party tonight?"

halloween cat
Have you figured out your Halloween costume yet?


Ghoulish (adj.)

[pronounced: ˈguːlɪʃ]

Something that suggests the horror and fear of ghouls or death.

"Hiram has such a ghoulish sense of humor. He's always joking about death."


Gruesome (adj.)

[pronounced: ˈgruːsəm]

Something that is very unpleasant and fills someone with horror.

"I thought Marion's ghost story was so gruesome!"


Jack-'o-Lantern (n.)

An emptied, hollowed pumpkin, with a face or other carving cut into it.

"Chase made his pumpkin into a jack-'o-lantern with a scene from A Nightmare Before Christmas." 

halloween pumpkins
You can make your jack o' lanterns silly or scary


Masquerade (n., v.)

[pronounced: msk-rd]

To dress up or pretend to be someone else. Can also be used as a verb: "to masquerade".

"I love going to masquerade balls. It's so much fun trying to guess who is who."


Petrify (v.)

To make someone extremely frightened.

"I was petrified after watching The Exorcist for the first time."


Spine-Tingling (adj.)

A sensation of fear or excitement; something that sends chills down one's spine.

"Clarice was hoping for a spine-tingling experience at the haunted house."



Trick-or-Treat (v.)

To go out and collect candy around the neighborhood on or around Halloween night while wearing a costume. It's also the phrase children will say when approaching someone for candy. 

Trick or Treat
Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat
If you don't, I don't care
I'll pull down your underwear 

Halloween treats
The treats are some of the best parts of Halloween!


What kind of new words have you learned this Halloween season? Let us know in the comments or on our facebook page! We hope that you'll get the chance to trick-or-treat in a costume!

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