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Halloween Words You Can Use All Year Round

Halloween Words You Can Use All Year Round

When you think of Halloween, what images come to your mind? Pumpkins and costume parties? Or perhaps candy and trick-or-treating

Although you can see people dressing like princesses and superheroes today, the original images of Halloween are much spookier. Think of things like ghosts, skeletons, witches and spiders.

However, even though these images are popular in the Halloween season, it's not the only time of year we think about them. In fact, many of these scary ideas are part of the English people use every day.

This time, let's take a look at common English words and expressions related to the dark topics often connected with Halloween.

Skeletons in the closet

A skeleton surrounded by clothes in a closet

This expression refers to an embarrassing fact that you want to keep secret. It is often used when talking about politicians, celebrities and other well-known people.

She was a respected businesswoman until people found the skeleton in her closet: she cheated her employees out of thousands of dollars in pay.

Come back to haunt you

"Haunt" is a verb we use to refer to ghosts who regularly appear in a place. However, just like spirits that will not go away, it can also refer to anything that continues to affect or cause problems for someone.

It can be used for things like memories and emotions, or for people or events from the past.

The rude way he treated his colleague years ago came back to haunt him when that same person became his boss.

Nail in the coffin

"Coffins" are long boxes that dead bodies are placed inside before being put into the ground. A "nail in the coffin" is an action or event that leads to the failure of something that is already going wrong.

For many businesses that were already struggling, the Covid pandemic was the nail in the coffin.

Dig (your) own grave

A "grave" is a place in the ground where you can find the coffins we mentioned earlier.

The expression "digging your own grave" means doing something that will cause you problems in the future. It's another way of saying that someone is killing, or harming, themselves.

John shows up late to the office every day and never takes his work seriously. He's digging his own grave, if you ask me.

Work the graveyard shift

A "graveyard" is a field where the bodies of dead people are buried. The graveyard shift is another name for the overnight shift, when workers begin very late at night and end in the morning.

I'm drinking all of this coffee now because I'm working the graveyard shift tonight.

Ghost town

Have you ever been to a place where there are almost no people and very little activity? These empty, quiet areas often give us a creepy, unpleasant feeling. We call these places "ghost towns."

When online shopping became common, many shopping malls became ghost towns.

Make one’s blood boil

A wizard or witch standing over a bowl with a boiling liquid inside

If your blood is boiling, it means you are extremely angry!

Watching the news always makes my blood boil, so I try not to watch it every day.

Scared stiff

Something that is "stiff" is hard and unable to bend easily. So if you are "scared stiff," you are so scared that you cannot move!

The little girl was scared stiff when she saw the large animal in front of her.

Like a bat out of hell

Bats are the flying animals many people associate with vampires. If something is moving "like a bat out of hell," it's another way of saying it's moving very quickly.

After seeing the big dog, the cat ran out of the house like a bat out of hell.


English is a language with many idioms and unique expressions. You may feel discouraged trying to memorize everything, but if you focus on a specific theme, you'll be surprised at how much you can learn!

Remember: the expressions we've covered this time can be used any time of the year. So, don't wait for Halloween to give them a try in your conversations!

This article was adapted from an original written by Sana Nozaki.