10 Halloween Idioms & Expressions

Idioms are everywhere in English, from books and movies to conversations and texts. They can be tricky to learn because these expressions don’t literally mean what they say, so it’s a good thing that students usually enjoy learning them! Make it more interesting by teaching idioms related to a certain theme, such as Halloween (you’ll find a list of spook-tacular Halloween idioms below). Make learning idioms even more fun by using a technique from our blog post, 8 Ways to Practice Idioms in Class, such as posters, skits, discussions, or stories!


scared stiff
Meaning: very frightened (so scared that a person can’t move)
  • When I saw the giant spider in my shower this morning, I was scared stiff.

death trap
Meaning: a building or other structure that is dangerous
  • That old roller coaster is a death trap. It will collapse one day if they don’t fix it.

come back to haunt someone
Meaning: to make a mistake that will affect a person later on/td>
  • I skipped school a month ago, and now it’s come back to haunt me because my parents somehow found out.

make one’s blood boil
Meaning: to cause a person to be very angry
  • When my boss ignores me during a meeting, it really makes my blood boil.

skeleton(s) in one’s closet / skeleton(s) in the cupboard
Meaning: an embarrassing secret (or secrets)
  • If you decide to become a politician, be aware that reporters will look for skeletons in your closet.

witching hour
Meaning: midnight
  • Last Halloween, we stayed up till the witching hour listening to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

ghost town
Meaning: an area that’s empty and devoid of life or activity
  • My hometown becomes a ghost town after 9:00 pm every night. There’s nothing to do!

blind as a bat
Meaning: not able to see well
  • My grandmother really shouldn’t be driving anymore. She’s as blind as a bat these days.

night owl
Meaning: a person who loves staying up late
  • My brother is an early bird who likes to study in the morning, but I’m a night owl so I always study at night.

the cat’s out of the bag / let the cat out of the bag
Meaning: revealing a surprise that was supposed to stay hidden
  • We weren’t going to tell anyone we were expecting a baby for three months, but my mom posted it on Facebook, so the cat’s out of the bag.


Happy Halloween!

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Leave a Comment ↓

  1. Tara Benwell says:

    Oct 27, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks, Tanya! I didn’t realize there was an actual time associated with the witching hour. I thought the witching hour was when kids won’t settle down or when a newborn won’t go to anyone but mom (around 7 in the evening). I see it is also a stock market term: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45617442
    Happy Halloween!
    PS. I am a night owl who is scared stiff of mice.

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Oct 27, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Happy Halloween to you too, Tara! I never knew the witching hour could be related to the stock market. I see it can also be “a time late at night when the powers of a witch, magician, etc., are believed to be strongest,” which is Merriam-Webster’s other entry (besides “midnight”).

      PS. I am as blind as a bat when driving during the witching hour. My car is a death trap if I don’t have my glasses at night! ;)

      • Brian says:

        Oct 11, 2016 at 11:25 am

        I think the actual time for the ‘witching hour’ is between 3am and 4am… not midnight. This is the correct time from common folklore :-)

        • Tanya Trusler says:

          Oct 13, 2016 at 1:12 pm

          Thanks, Brian, that’s interesting! The dictionaries I checked said midnight, but I’m sure it varies according to local folklore.

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