5 Halloween Words You Can Use All Year Round

Did you know that some Halloween vocabulary is actually used in everyday life? Today, we'll show you how native English speakers use the words, "skeleton," "haunt," "grave," "graveyard," and "coffin" in daily conversation!

1. Skeleton in the Closet

If you want to hide something in your room, you might put it deep inside your closet so nobody will ever find it. But why would someone have a skeleton sitting in their closet?

Artificial human skeleton model among clothes in the wardrobe

Someone who has a "skeleton in their closet" is hiding a dark secret that could ruin their reputation. For example, politicians often have skeletons in their closets. Maybe they didn't pay taxes or are cheating on their partner. These are embarrassing facts ("skeletons") most politicians would try to cover up (keep "in the closet").

  • He can't possibly run for Prime Minister. He has way too many skeletons in his closet!
  • She was a respected businesswoman until people found the skeleton in her closet: she cheated her employees of thousands of dollars in pay.

2. Come Back to Haunt You

You've probably heard of haunted houses before. Haunted houses are scary because people think ghosts "haunt" them.

But did you know that ghosts can also "come back to haunt" people? For example, someone who was killed might visit the person who killed them as a ghost to get revenge. So in daily life, English speakers use this expression to refer to actions that might cause problems in the future.

  • All these lies you're telling will come back to haunt you some day.
  • He's got a lot of skeletons in his closet, which will come back to haunt him some day.

3. Dig Your Own Grave

Who would want to dig a grave for their own dead body? No one. So what does the idiom, "dig your own grave" mean?

Freshly dug grave pit at a cemetery, a close-up.

However, people sometimes do things that later cause them serious problems. They might not die, but they might lose their job, their good health, or other important things in life.

  • If you eat junk food every day and don't exercise, you're digging your own grave.
  • For politicians, raising taxes is like digging their own grave, since they usually won't be re-elected.

4. Work the Graveyard Shift

"Graveyard shift" is a common way to refer to shifts that start late at night and end early in the morning. But what do late night shifts have to do with graveyards?

While there are a few theories, none are certain. What we do know is that graveyard shifts occur when it's dark and usually involve fewer people, making them dark and quiet like a graveyard at night!

  • I work the graveyard shift at my company, so I'm glad I live in a city with public transport running 24/7.
  • Beth chooses to work the graveyard shift at the factory, because it pays more.

5. Final Nail in the Coffin

Traditionally, coffins were simple wooden boxes with a lid. People would nail the lid on after placing a dead body inside. When all the nails were hammered into the coffin, you would never see the person again.

A modern-day coffin

Eventually, "the final nail in the coffin" became a way to describe the last of several events or actions that bring about the failure of something that's already not going well. For example, imagine someone is late to work every day. One day, on top of being late, they arrive drunk. This might be the "final nail in the coffin" which causes their boss to fire them.

  • The baseball player's latest shoulder injury became the final nail in his coffin. He would never pitch a baseball again.
  • The rise in the cost of rubber was the final nail in the coffin for the failing tire company.

Want to practice English with a professional tutor?

If you found these expressions useful and interesting, you'll love our one-on-one online English lessons even more! Engoo has hundreds of free learning materials and thousands of professional tutors around the world ready to teach you the English you really need. Learn more about us here.