Halloween or Hallowe’en is celebrated on 31st October. Originally it was a pagan festival when the spirits of the dead were believed to re-visit this mortal world. To scare them off, people wore scary masks and costumes. The festival is said to have come from Ireland where it is widely celebrated this week. The illuminated carved pumpkins are displayed on the window sills. Children dress up as ghosts, zombies, skeletons, witches and other scary characters. They go around the neighbourhood, knock on the doors saying “Trick or treat!” and get sweets, nuts and fruits. To scare you off, here is some spooky Halloween vocabulary.
10 Halloween Idioms and Expressions
1. Skeleton in the closet (cupboard) – to have an embarassing secret about your past, that a person tries hard to conceal
ex. The company did not disclose information to its customers because they had a skeleton in the closet.
2. A ghost town – abandoned place (village, town or city) where nobody lives
ex. There are ghost towns all over the world.
3. In cold blood – to do something deliberately in a ruthless manner, never give it a thought
ex. A man has killed a kitten in cold blood.
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4. To make someone’s blood boil – to make someone very angry
ex. This story makes my blood boil.
5. Put/stick the knife in – to do something unkind or unpleasant to someone, particularly when they are weak
ex. The manager stuck the knife in when he told me that my hours reduced at work.
6. Smell a rat – to suspect that something is wrong or something dishonest is happening
ex. He smelled a rat and passed the letter on to the investigation committee.
7. Scared stiff – to get so scared that you are not able to move
ex. I was scared stiff when I heard noises in my house last night.
8. Witch-hunt – a campaign against a person or group who have different or unpopular views
ex. There was a lot of witch-hunting in the ruling party.
9. Not a cat in hell’s chance – no chance at all
ex. Jason didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning the race.
10. Scare the pants off someone – to really scare someone
ex. You scared the pants off me, I wasn’t expecting to see you in the garden.
I hope you won’t get scared off by our Halloween idioms and expressions. Happy Halloween!
If you want to increase your vocabulary and improve English speaking skills in general, check out the following links:
Do you know what is the difference between DEAD and KILLED? Or what is the difference between MURDER and MURDERED? I have created this English video lesson for you: