Halloween Vocabulary: 31 Phrases About The Scariest Holiday

Bodhi Ramosreviewed bySana Liashuk / more about Editorial Process16 min
Created: Oct 11, 2022Last updated: Jan 11, 2024
Halloween Vocabulary

Ghostly Greetings! That's the way we all are going to say hello this month. Because it's October, my sweet little pumpkin, it's that time of the year again. Halloween! *evil laughing* *more evil laughing* Are you reading this article all alone without mommy or daddy? There's been a jailbreak, and an escaped criminal is wandering in your neighborhood! Who is that, behind you? Oh, don't be a scared cat. We are just being playful with our Halloween vocabulary!

We can't speak for everybody, but Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. Maybe the reason is that on October 31, at least once, being an evil character is a good and fun thing for everybody. Or it is because of a pumpkin late in Starbucks. Or, just as an alternative, the actual reason might be that we finally can share with you the spookiest Halloween vocabulary words ever! We frankly don't know. But come along on our Halloween journey; maybe by the end of it, we all will know. 

And while you are waiting for us to buy a pumpkin, put our costumes on, and make ourselves a scary makeover, suggesting you check out what new horrors and thrillers are about to stream this October. We are not about to ghost you, pinky promises!

This fall, you will learn six essential Halloween vocabulary words, 6 Halloween description words, and six spooky Halloween words. We will also provide you with 13 Halloween movie quotes and 13 Halloween sayings for the scariest night of the year. 

The Best Halloween Vocabulary List: The Magic of 666

We bet you are excited and have no questions about the number 13, but you can't help wondering why three sixes. Have you ever heard about the Devil number? If not, it's no secret, so let's shed some light on the topic for you. 

Three sixes, or the number 666, is a superstitious number commonly associated with evil or the Devil himself. Why? It all comes back to the Bible, as many things in history. 

The first time the number 666 is mentioned as the Devil's number is in the Textus Receptus manuscripts of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation. Apparently, every letter also means a number in ancient alphabets, including Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. That is why every word also has a numerical value. And because the original text was written in ancient Greek, the number 666 in the Book of Revelation refers to it as the "number of the beast." 

The English translation to Chapter 13 of The Book of Revelation is "Let the one with understanding reckon the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666."

So, now you know. And since it is commonly believed that 666 is the Devil number, we could not miss the opportunity to use it for our Halloween vocabulary list. So, enjoy and keep your lights on, just in case. 

The Most Halloween Theme Words: Basics for October 31 

1. Halloween

It is unthinkable to revise any words related to Halloween without reviewing and analyzing the word Halloween itself.

Nowadays, Halloween is just a themed festival that gives people another opportunity to blow off some steam and have a fun night letting your inner child that might be dressed up like a mummy, Harley Queen, or even Her Majesty the Queen out. But, believe it or not, Halloween has not always been about candies, sweet corn, costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and horror movies. If you want to dig into the holiday's history, here is a page about Halloween on History Channel's website. And, right here and right now, you will learn the essence of the Halloween old days and get into the semantics of the word. 

First things first, in the past, Halloween had a different name. It was known as All Hallows Eve. So modern name of the holiday is its shorten combined version where "Hallow" has a similar meaning to "holy," and "een" is identical to "eve," which equals "evening." In another way, Halloween is the night before a holy day: All Saints' Day, on November 1.

The origins of the holiday go back to ancient times. About 2,000 years ago, the territory of modern England and northern France was inhabited by indigenous tribes called Celts. And before their New Year, which was November 1, they would throw a festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). It referred to the belief that on that very eve, the border between the worlds of the living and the dead was almost disappearing, and spirits could return for one night. The celebration included building huge sacred bonfires for sacrificing and wearing creepy costumes to scare away evil. 

2. Pumpkin

It is common knowledge that a fruit apple is the official logo for the most famous cognominal brand. And the almost official logo for Halloween is a pumpkin, usually carved. 

Pumpkins became a valid symbol of Halloween because of the Irish people that immigrated to the United States in the 19th century. They brought on the new land their old traditions, such as warding the evil spirits away with carved-faced vegetables on their porches. When the Irish came to America, they discovered pumpkins and decided to use these vegetables to scare spirits away on Samhain, aka Halloween, on October 31. Later, pumpkins with carved faces got the name jack-o-lantern, which also has Irish origins.

There is a legend about a man named Jack who had been the worst person his whole life but somehow made a deal with the Devil that he won't take his soul. When Jack died, he was denied entry to heaven because of all his hideous behavior and acts on Earth. But his soul was also not taken by the Devil to hell. Since then, his soul has been roaming around. So, people started using pumpkins with scary faces to keep Jack's evil spirit away from their homes. 

Now, pumpkin is a must in every home for October and Halloween. And, yes, we know there is no pumpkin late in Starbucks, but it is still worth trying. Maybe, this drink will turn on your holiday mood. 

3. Trick-or-treating

Trick or treat! That's what kids usually say, going from house to house in their neighborhood on Halloween. 

Trick or treating is the best tradition of this holiday, at least as we see it. But it is most common only in the United States. 

Kids around the age of 12 dress up in costumes and go to try their luck, begging for candy. If a "mysterious creature" bangs on the door, the house owner has to open it and give sweets as a "sacrifice"; otherwise, there will be consequences. If kids don't get treats which usually are chocolates, sweet corn, and lollypops, they will do the trick. The punishment can vary from decorating a yard and a house with a ton of toilet paper to throwing uncooked eggs at a place, a car, or even a person.  

4. Coffin/casket

A coffin or a casket is a long, narrow box, usually made of wood, used to bury or cremate a dead body. 

It might sound creepy, but many U.S. people have coffins/caskets in their homes. Chill, they are not maniacs or occultists. But a coffin or a casket is one of the leading Halloween attributes. So, people use them to decorate their backyards and homes to make them spooky for a holiday. 

If you want to know how coffins/caskets became one of the symbols of Halloween, we don't have a historical answer for you. But let's think logically. It looks like Halloween is all about death nowadays, so it's no wonder that coffins/caskets got super popular. Zombies get out of their caskets, and vampires sleep in their coffins; plus, any dead character you choose for your Halloween costume can carry a casket as an accessory. 

The peculiar thing is that in Italy, for example, people got used to seeing coffins not only during Halloween. The street billboards with coffin ads are spread all over Italian cities. And that is hell creepy. 

5. Broomstick

Perhaps, it is almost impossible to find a person who has never watched Harry Potter movies. That is why we can assume you've seen broomsticks in them. 

According to Oxford Languages, the world's leading dictionary publisher, a broomstick is a brush with twigs at one end and a long handle on which, in children's literature, witches are said to fly. 

The truth behind witches riding broomstick is a bit revealing and sexual. In the mid-century, so-called witches were using their broomsticks to get high. They would anoint the handles of broomsticks with witches' salves made with herbs that caused hallucinations and ride them for tropane alkaloids to be absorbed by mucus membranes of the rectum or vagina. That is also why in many old pictures, withes were portrayed as half-naked. 

But why is it believed that witches could use broomsticks for flying? Because hallucinogens made them see dreams where they were flying. Nobody witnessed witches flying broomsticks. 

6. Cauldron

A cauldron during Halloween also leads mostly to witches. It is a big pot, usually black, for cooking potions and poisons. 

Nowadays, kids use cauldrons on Halloween to collect candies while trick-or-treating, and adults decorate homes with them.  

You could've seen pink magic cauldrons on TikTok, as well. You need to mix all the magic ingredients in a pot to make a stuffed toy from them. 

Spooky Halloween Words You Need to Know

The following several words in our Halloween vocabulary list could give you some chills. But they are handy this time of the year, so don't you dare to forget them or else… Kidding, of course. 

1. Boo

What does a cat say? Meow. What does a doggy say? Woof. And what a ghost says? Boo!

Boo is an exclamation word that suddenly scares someone who is not expecting you to be close to them. 

On Halloween and even during all of October, you can not only scare people with "Boo!" but also jokingly greet them with it. And if you decide to dress like a ghost for this Halloween, that is your number one word to use. It will make you scary; well, let's hope so. Look at this picture of Salem cat from the 90s series Sabrina the Teenage Witch. 

Boo - Halloween Word

Outside of Halloween, boo can also be used as a noun that emphasizes a person you care about. In the U.S., people call boo their loved ones, like a boyfriend or a girlfriend, sometimes even a friend. This American slang word originally comes from the French word "beau," that in the 18th century was used to describe an admirer. 

"I like him, Like him too, He my man, He my boo," sings Princess Nokia in her song I Like Him. 

2. Boogeyman

"There is the boogeyman! He is outside! Look, there is the boogeyman outside!" that is what you can hear in an iconic movie called Halloween. So, let's figure out who the boogeyman is. 

According to Collins Dictionary, a boogeyman is an imaginary evil character with supernatural powers, especially an imaginary hobgoblin supposed to carry off naughty children. But in the movie series Halloween, the boogeyman has an actual name - Michael Audrey Myers. So, when talking about a boogeyman, it depends on the context if the person means Michael Audrey Myers or just speaking generally. 

In any way, be cautious going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. A boogeyman can wait for you under your bed. 

3. Gravestone + grave

If you live in a private house in the U.S., there must be at least one gravestone on your loan as a Halloween decoration. It's almost a rule. 

A gravestone is a monolith that marks where the person was buried. And a grave is a dug pit where somebody is buried. In different counties, gravestones look distinct. But those represented in movies and Halloween decorations were brought from U.S. cemeteries. Traditionally, they look like a piece of stone rounded on top. They come with signs, including the name of a buried person, dates of birth and death, and maybe a quote or a notice from relatives. But cartoonishly, gravestones have the sign R.I.P. on them. It is an abbreviation that is deciphered as rest in peace. 

You can use the word gravestone when you are mad, saying something mean and then adding, "That's what I will be engraved on your gravestone!"

The word grave is used in different idioms. For instance, quiet as a grave (deadly silent), taking a secret to the grave (do not tell anyone), dancing on the grave (to celebrate someone's failure or even death), digging one's grave (to do something that will affect someone badly) to have on foot in the grave (to be almost dead). 

4. Hocus Pocus

Usually, the phrase hocus pocus is used by magicians to distract the audience while performing a trick. However, we adore it when they pull bunnies from a hat!

This phrase can be used in everyday life to emphasize that something is just a disturbance that hides more critical things. For example, His kiss was just a hocus pocus; he didn't want me to see his ex passing by. 

5. Poltergeist

Remember Casper's friendly ghost? He is a poltergeist but a very charming and sincere one. Unfortunately, not all of them are like that. 

Generally, poltergeists people understand a ghost that is causing a physical disturbance, like mowing things in the house or making noises. 

Some people believe it's possible to detect poltergeists with special devices (not the same as in the Ghostbusters movie) and get rid of them with some rituals. 

You will encounter the word poltergeist in horror movies a lot. Don't miss it. 

In real life, you can name a person a poltergeist if they appear in your life occasionally without warning and generate inconveniences. 

6. Warlock

Probably, since childhood, we all know who are withes. But what is a male equivalent to that? Just a male witch or a wizard? Not really. See, Harry Potter, for instance, is a wizard because he practices good magic. And when people call a woman witch, they mean she does something terrible. So to characterize a man who is connoted to dark and evil magic and witchcraft, you should use the word warlock. 

The example: The magical powers were passed in the family through generations, and now brother and sister – warlock and witch – own them. 

Halloween Description Words to Feel the Spirit of the Holiday

Here are some words that describe Halloween in the best way possible:

1. Supernatural

We all love Dean and Sam from the tv series Supernatural. And, most likely, you could've heard this word before. 

This adjective describes some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature. 

If you detected a poltergeist or saw a ghost, that would signify supernatural activity. 

2. Eerie 

If you are struggling to find a suitable synonym for such words as mysterious and creepy, try to use eerie instead. That will level your speech and show you have a solid Halloween vocabulary. 

3. Drop-dead

As an adjective, the word drop-dead is used to emphasize that someone or something is beautiful. It can be a perfect compliment for a women's Halloween costume. She's drop-dead gorgeous!

4. Ghoulish

A ghoul is an evil spirit or phantom robs graves and feeds on dead bodies. So, when people use and adjective ghoulish, they mean something awful, shocking, cruel, and monstrous. Like, Jeffry seemed to be a nice person, but then we all saw his true nature; it was ghoulish. 

5. Haunted

Houses full of ghosts and poltergeists are usually a fun attraction on Halloween. But nobody calls them like that. So to express that something is full of ghosts and poltergeists, it is better to use the word haunted. 

6. Bloodcurdling

Bloodcurdling is used to show that something is full of terror or horror. What can be bloodcurdling? A scream or a story that you tell late at night in a cemetery on Halloween, looking for some adrenaline. 


13 Halloween Sayings You Need To Know

At this point, you can operate with a good number of scary Halloween words. But it won't be superfluous to remember some holiday sayings for greeting people in October and wishing them the best Halloween ever. They are full of wordplay!

  1. Eat, drink and be scary!
  2. Halloween is a real treat. 
  3. Have a fang-tastic night. 
  4. Happy Haunting!
  5. Have a bootiful Halloween. 
  6. Don't be a scared cat. 
  7. I witch you a Happy Halloween. 
  8. Stop in for a spell. 
  9. Please park all brooms at the door. 
  10. Caution! Witch Crossing. 
  11. Boo to you from our crew. 
  12. If you want a tasty sweet…
  13. Be sure to holler trick or treat!

Halloween Vocab: 13 Iconic Movie Quotes For Creepy Vibe

And, of course, our Halloween vocabulary list wouldn't be complete without lit quoted from the iconic themed movies. Turn these movies on a spooky night and try to memorize them in context and get some more Halloween vocabulary. 

"It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare." – Halloween

"No, please don't kill me, Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel." – Scream 

"What an excellent day for an exorcism." – The Exorcist

"Wendy, I'm home!" – The Shinning 

"I'll stop wearing black when they make a darker color" – The Addams Family.

"This is my costume. I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else." - The Addams Family.

"Oh look, another glorious morning. Makes me sick." – Hocus Pocus

"It's a full moon tonight. That's when all the weirdos are out." – Hocus Pocus

"Go to hell!" "I've been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely." — Hocus Pocus

"Well, it says to form a circle of salt to protect from zombies, witches, and old boyfriends." — "Hocus Pocus."

"Come with me if you want to live." — Casper the Friendly Ghost

"It's not a tornado that's coming. It's something much, much worse."  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

"Who doesn't enjoy a good scare every now and again? Especially this time of year."  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

How do you learn Halloween vocabulary with Promova?

Halloween vocabulary is not limited to what we provide you with. And if you don't want to do the research yourself, you can always seek professional help. The best thing about our platform Promova is that it's cross-functional. You can hire a native-level tutor to get assistance with your themed learning. Just sign up for an individual lesson on Promova, let your experienced tutor know about your desire to learn Halloween vocabulary, and they will prepare a unique class just for you. 

Also, in the Promova application, you can find a themed word game. It is called 12 Synonyms for Spooky. Check it out and provide yourself with even more Halloween words. 


This article provides you with basic and more advanced Halloween vocabulary. Now you are fully ready to tell scary stories, quote iconic movies and go party (the adult version of trick-or-treating) on October 31. If you want to integrate English into your life more and learn as much as possible, you should also consider language and cultural learning. Although you may not have such Halloween traditions in your country as in the U.S., there won't be any harm for a try to implement them in your time spent. Just look at this pumpkin farm close to Naples, Italy. Learn your Halloween vocabulary while carving a creepy pumpkin face. 


Till what age is it appropriate to go trick-or-treating?

When it is okay to go trick-or-treating at your friend's place to have fun on Halloween, the age limit is 12-13. Usually, teens themselves don't want to beg for sweets because they think it's kids` stuff. 

What is the most popular costume for Halloween?

A particular map of the U.S. shows the most popular Halloween costumes by state. According to All Home Connections, in 2022, the most searched Halloween costumes are witches and cats. Basics never went old. 

What movies and series can I watch to learn more Halloween words?

Frankly, horror movies are not the best source of Halloween vocabulary. If you give yourself a minute to think, people in horror don't speak much; they mostly scream. So, we suggest you watch The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, Sabrina Teenage Witch, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and special Halloween episodes of your favorite tv shows. 

When to celebrate Halloween?

Halloween is celebrated on October 31. But all the preparations start in the last days of September, beginning of October. People decorate their places outside and inside. There is even a unique city in the U.S. called Salem, which is believed to be inhabited by real witches in the midcentury. Nowadays, people go there to feel the whole atmosphere of the holiday. 


Aiden MurraySep 29th, 2023
I love how this article breaks down halloween vocabulary into different categories
PromovaJun 27th, 2023
Definitely! In addition to the Halloween vocabulary list provided in the article, there are several activities you can try to practice and reinforce these words in context. One suggestion is to create Halloween-themed flashcards and use them for vocabulary review or play memory games. Another idea is to watch Halloween-themed movies or TV shows with subtitles in English to improve your listening skills and see the vocabulary in action. Additionally, participating in Halloween-themed events or joining language exchange groups where you can discuss Halloween traditions and share stories can provide valuable practice opportunities.
Blaise BeasleyJun 27th, 2023
Are there any additional resources or activities you recommend to help learners practice and reinforce these words in context?