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Definition of spook

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of spook  (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

intransitive verb

  • intelligencer
  • alarum

Examples of spook in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spook.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Dutch; akin to Middle Low German spōk ghost

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

1883, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Cite this entry.

“Spook.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spook. Accessed 24 Jan. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of spook.

Kids Definition of spook  (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on spook

Nglish: Translation of spook for Spanish Speakers

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Informal . a ghost ; specter .

Slang . a ghostwriter .

Slang . an eccentric person.

Slang : Extremely Disparaging and Offensive . a contemptuous term used to refer to a Black person.

Slang . an espionage agent; spy .

to haunt; inhabit or appear in or to as a ghost or specter.

Informal . to frighten; scare .

Informal . to become frightened or scared: The fish spooked at any disturbance in the pool.

Origin of spook

Usage note for spook, other words from spook.

  • spook·er·y, noun
  • spookish, adjective

Words Nearby spook

  • spontaneous recovery

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use spook in a sentence

And he just so happens to be the hardest-working spook on the planet.

Few people knew better than Orson Welles how to spook an entire country.

Authorities in Moscow claim to have arrested an American spook wearing wigs and carrying an incriminating letter.

A third test will, therefore, further spook nervous allies and create a new sense of vulnerability among Americans.

From suave Jack Ryan to smarmy Eugene Kittridge, potential candidates for America's next top spook .

More than with the " spook ," however, was the public mind agitated by other rumors which touched upon "south meadow."

A speck is a minute spot, and among the ancients a speck or dot within a circle was the symbol of the central spook or Spectre.

It gets me what she was doing in that spook place alone at night.

How do you connect this gentlemanly spook with the treasure, your Excellency?

I think there is more in this spook story than Colonel McClure knows of, or, at least, will admit.

British Dictionary definitions for spook

/ ( spuːk ) informal /

a ghost or a person suggestive of this

US and Canadian a spy

Southern African slang any pale or colourless alcoholic spirit : spook and diesel

to frighten : to spook horses ; to spook a person

(of a ghost) to haunt

Derived forms of spook

  • spookish , adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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  • Spook (disambiguation)
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  • spook someone out
  • spook something out
  • spook that out
  • spook them out
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  • spook those out
  • spook us out
  • spook you out
  • spooked her out
  • spooked him out
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  • 1.1 Etymology
  • 1.2 Pronunciation
  • 1.3.1 Translations
  • 1.4.1 Derived terms
  • 1.4.2 Translations
  • 1.5 Further reading
  • 1.6 Anagrams
  • 2.1 Etymology
  • 2.2 Pronunciation
  • 2.3.1 Descendants
  • 3.1 Pronunciation
  • 3.2.1.1 Synonyms
  • 3.2.1.2 Derived terms
  • 3.2.1.3 Descendants

English [ edit ]

Etymology [ edit ].

Borrowed from Dutch spook ( “ ghost ” ) , from Middle Dutch spooc ( “ spook, ghost ” ) . Cognate with Middle Low German spôk , spûk ( “ apparition, ghost ” ) , Middle High German gespük ( “ a haunting ” ) , German Spuk , Danish spøge ( “ to haunt ” ) , Swedish spöke ( “ ghost ” ) . Doublet of puck .

Pronunciation [ edit ]

  • enPR : spo͞ok , IPA ( key ) : /spuːk/
  • Rhymes: -uːk

Noun [ edit ]

spook ( plural spooks )

  • 1925 July – 1926 May , A[rthur] Conan Doyle , “ (please specify the chapter number) ”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia , published April 2019: "I'll say what I think, no more and no less, and I won't be scared by you or your spooks into altering my opinions."
  • A hobgoblin .
  • ( informal ) A scare or fright . The big spider gave me a spook .
  • 2009 July 24, “Spies like them”, in BBC News Magazine : From Ian Fleming to John Le Carre - authors have long been fascinated by the world of espionage. But, asks the BBC’s Gordon Corera, what do real life spooks make of fictional spies?
  • 2012 October 13, “Huawei and ZTE: Put on hold”, in The Economist ‎ [1] : The congressional study frets that Huawei’s and ZTE’s products could be used as Trojan horses by Chinese spooks .
  • 1976 , Paul Schrader , Taxi Driver , spoken by Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro): Some won't take spooks —hell, don't make no difference to me.
  • 2002 February, Don Spears, Playing for Keeps ‎ [2] , Los Angeles: Milligan Books, →ISBN , →OCLC , page 179 : " [ … ] Dryades Street and that whole uptown neighborhood is gonna be worth a fortune once the white people take it back from you spooks and develop it. [ … ] "
  • 1845 , Max Stirner , translated by Steven T. Byington, Der Einzige und sein Eigentum ; republished as The Ego and His Own , Dover, 2005 : He who is infatuated with Man leaves persons out of account so far as that infatuation extends, and floats in an ideal, sacred interest. Man , you see, is not a person, but an ideal, a spook .
  • 1975 , Robert O. Pasnau, Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry , page 124 : Commonly, the surgeons view nonsurgeons with disdain. The most disdain is directed toward the “shrinks” or the “ spooks ,” as the psychiatrists are called.
  • ( blackjack , slang ) A player who engages in hole carding by attempting to glimpse the dealer's hole card when the dealer checks under an ace or a 10 to see if a blackjack is present.

Translations [ edit ]

Verb [ edit ].

spook ( third-person singular simple present spooks , present participle spooking , simple past and past participle spooked )

  • 2022 August 10, “Stop & Examine”, in RAIL , number 963 , page 71 : As that was happening, an East Midlands train came through at 90mph. George [a Labrador] was spooked as the train went past him and ran backwards across the neighbouring slow lines and off towards the sidings.
  • ( intransitive ) To become frightened (by something startling). The deer spooked at the sound of the dogs.
  • ( transitive ) To haunt .

Derived terms [ edit ]

  • spookmaster

Further reading [ edit ]

Anagrams [ edit ].

  • Koops , SOKOP , Sopko

Afrikaans [ edit ]

From Dutch spook , from Middle Dutch spoke , spooc , from Proto-Germanic *spōk .

  • IPA ( key ) : /spʊə̯k/

spook ( plural spoke , diminutive spokie )

  • ghost , phantom

Descendants [ edit ]

  • → Xhosa: isiporho
  • → Zulu: isipoki

Dutch [ edit ]

  • IPA ( key ) : /spoːk/
  • Hyphenation: spook
  • Rhymes: -oːk

Etymology 1 [ edit ]

From Middle Dutch spoke , spooc , from spoke , spoocke , spoicke ( “ wizardry, witchcraft ” ) , from Proto-Germanic *spōk . Further etymology unclear. Cognate with Middle Low German spôk , Low German spôk , Middle High German Spuch , and German Spuk .

spook in meaning in english

spook   n ( plural spoken , diminutive spookje   n )

  • phantom , ghost Geloof je in spoken? ― Do you believe in ghosts?
  • spectre, horror , terror het spook van de oorlog ― the horror of war
  • an imaginary horror, conceptual nightmare
  • an annoying and intolerable woman

Synonyms [ edit ]

  • spokenjager
  • spookambtenaar
  • spookverhaal
  • → Northern Ndebele: isipoko
  • Negerhollands: spook
  • → English: spook
  • → Papiamentu: spoki , spooki

Etymology 2 [ edit ]

See the etymology of the corresponding lemma form.

  • first-person singular present indicative

Middle English [ edit ]

  • Alternative form of spoke

spook in meaning in english

  • English terms borrowed from Dutch
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What is the meaning of "spook"?

Word origin.

  • spontaneity
  • spontaneous
  • spontaneous combustion
  • spontaneous generation
  • spontaneously
  • spontaneousness
  • spoon bread

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What does the noun spook mean?

There are three meanings listed in OED's entry for the noun spook , one of which is considered derogatory. See ‘Meaning & use’ for definitions, usage, and quotation evidence.

This word is used in U.S. English.

Entry status

OED is undergoing a continuous programme of revision to modernize and improve definitions. This entry has not yet been fully revised.

How common is the noun spook ?

How is the noun spook pronounced, british english, u.s. english, where does the noun spook come from.

Earliest known use

The earliest known use of the noun spook is in the 1800s.

OED's earliest evidence for spook is from 1801, in the Massachusetts Spy, or the Worcester Gazette .

spook is of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from Dutch. Partly a borrowing from German.

Etymons: Dutch spook ; German Spuk .

Nearby entries

  • spontoon, n. 1746–
  • spoocher, n. 1294–
  • spoof, n. 1884–
  • spoof, v. 1889–
  • spoofed, adj. 1958–
  • spoofer, n. 1914–
  • spoofery, n. 1895–
  • spoofing, n. & adj. 1920–
  • spooge, n. 1987–
  • spooge, v. 1990–
  • spook, n. 1801–
  • spook, v. 1871–
  • spooked, adj. 1937–
  • spookery, n. 1893–
  • spookily, adv. 1955–
  • spooking, n. 1919–
  • spookist, n. 1902–
  • spooky, adj. 1854–
  • spool, n.¹ c1325–
  • spool, n.² 1496
  • spool, v. 1603–

Meaning & use

By mine dunder I fly so swift as any spook .
Who ever heard of a spook eating?
There did I see a Spook , sure enough,—milk-white, and moving round.
The corners of New England which spooks and spirits were the last to leave.
Broom, avaunt thee! To thy nook there! Lie, thou spook , there!
I am haunted by a spook with oblique eyes and a pigtail.
To what particular order of spook or spectre may he be assigned?
A-clatterin' the ghosts of dishes..as tho' he was bringin' in a spook -dinner.
I became acquainted with a ‘ spooke story,’..which [etc.] .
An alleged spook -photo.
  • ghost Old English– The soul or spirit of a dead person or animal, conceived of as appearing in visible form or otherwise manifesting in the physical world, typically…
  • hue Old English–1603 concrete . An apparition, a phantasm. Obsolete .
  • soul Old English– The disembodied spirit of a deceased person (or occasionally an animal) regarded as a separate entity and invested with some degree of…
  • fantasy c1325–1583 A spectral apparition, phantom; an illusory appearance. Obs.
  • spirit c1350– An incorporeal, supernatural, rational being, of a type usually regarded as imperceptible to humans but capable of becoming visible at will, and…
  • phantom c1384– A thing (usually with human form) that appears to the sight or other sense, but has no material substance; an apparition, a spectre, a ghost. Also…
  • phantasm c1430– An apparition, spirit, or ghost; a visible but incorporeal being. Now archaic and rare .
  • haunter c1440– One who or that which haunts, in various senses; a frequenter.
  • shadow a1464– A spectral form, phantom; = shade , n. II.6.
  • appearance 1488– That which appears without being material; a phantom or apparition.
  • wraith 1513– An apparition or spectre of a dead person; a phantom or ghost.
  • hag 1538–1637 A frightening apparition or creature, esp. a ghost. Obsolete .
  • spoorn 1584–1790 A special kind of spectre or phantom.
  • vizard a1591 A phantasm or spectre. Obsolete . rare .
  • life-in-death 1593– A condition of being or seeming to be neither alive nor dead, a phantom state between life and death; (in extended use) something having the form or…
  • phantasma 1598– = phantasm , n. (in various senses).
  • umbra 1601– The shade of a deceased person; a phantom or ghost. Also figurative .
  • larve 1603– = larva , n. 1.
  • spectre 1605– An apparition, phantom, or ghost, esp. one of a terrifying nature or aspect.
  • spectrum 1611– An apparition or phantom; a spectre.
  • idolon 1612– A non-material image of a person or thing; esp. a mental image, visualization, or conception.
  • apparition a1616– spec. An immaterial appearance as of a real being; a spectre, phantom, or ghost. (The ordinary current sense.)
  • shade a1616– A spectre, phantom. rare .
  • shape a1616– concrete . An imaginary, spectral, or ethereal form; a phantom. Now rare .
  • show a1616–1841 A phantom, a vision, an apparition. Obsolete .
  • larva 1651– A disembodied spirit; a ghost, hobgoblin, spectre. Obsolete exc. Historical .
  • white hat ?1693 Newfoundland . The name of a spirit or ghost. Obsolete . rare .
  • zumbi 1704– Chiefly in West and South-west African (esp. Angolan) contexts: the ghost or spirit of a dead person, esp. a malevolent one. Occasionally also Car …
  • jumbie 1764– The ghost or spirit of a dead person, esp. a malevolent one. Cf. duppy , n. , zombie , n. I.1.
  • duppy 1774– A name among black West Indians for a ghost or spirit.
  • waff 1777– An apparition, wraith. = waft , n.¹ 7.
  • zombie 1788– In parts of the Caribbean (esp. Haiti) and the southern United States: the ghost or spirit of a dead person, esp. a malevolent one. Cf. zumbi , n. , j …
  • Wild Huntsman 1796– A phantom huntsman of Teutonic legend, fabled to ride at night through the fields and woods with shouts and baying of hounds.
  • spook 1801– A spectre, apparition, ghost. Often somewhat jocular or colloquial .
  • ghostie 1810– A ghost.
  • hantu a1811– An evil spirit, a ghost.
  • preta 1811– The disembodied soul of a dead person, esp. before the completion of funeral rites and ceremonies allowing it to leave the world of humans as an…
  • bodach 1814– A peasant, churl; also ( Scottish ) a spectre.
  • revenant 1823– A person who returns from the dead; a reanimated corpse; a ghost. Also figurative .
  • death-fetch 1826– (a) An apparition or double of a living person that is superstitiously believed to portend the person's death; (b) a spirit supposed to come and…
  • sowlth 1829– A formless, luminous spectre. Chiefly in the writings of W. B. Yeats.
  • kehua 1839– The spirit of a dead person; a ghost.
  • haunt 1843– U.S. regional and English regional . A spirit supposed to haunt a place; a ghost. Also (occasionally) in wider use.
  • night-bat 1847– (a) Caribbean ( Barbados and Guyana ) a bat; (b) now literary a ghost, a bogey; (c) chiefly Jamaican , a large night-flying moth.
  • spectrality 1850– A phantasm; ghostliness.
  • thivish 1852– A ghost, apparition, or spectre.
  • beastie 1867– Originally Scottish . A frightening supernatural creature or spirit; a ghost, hobgoblin, or bogey; a monster.
  • ghost soul 1869– (In the context of spiritualism and shamanism) the soul of a human or animal that animates the body but can exist and travel separately from it, as…
  • barrow-wight 1891– A mound of earth or stones erected in early times over a grave; a grave-mound, a tumulus. Also attributive as barrow-wight n. (see quot. 1891); so…
  • resurrect 1892 A person who has risen from the dead.
  • waft 1897– An apparition, wraith. Cf. waff , n. 5.
  • churel 1901– In India, the ghost of a woman who has died in child-birth, believed to haunt lonely places malevolently and to spread disease.
  • comeback 1908– A person who has returned; (also) a ghost. rare .
‘Spotter.’ (One who spys upon employees.).. Silent eye, spook , spotter .
Rat, rubber heel, spook , spotter , a person employed to detect irregularities.
The spooks were senior constables who wore no uniform, worked in pairs and followed constables about the city and suburbs to see if they did their work properly.
The idea of making a living as a spy—‘ spook ’ in current Washington slang—is repugnant to most of us.
I'd like him to get out of the spook business.
‘My training was also in espionage at the CIA farm.’.. ‘A spook ,’ I said in wonder.
  • intelligencer 1540– A person who is employed to obtain confidential information; an informer, a spy, a secret agent. Now chiefly historical .
  • intelligentiary 1577 = intelligencer , n. 1.
  • under-puller 1682– A secret agent.
  • agent 1804– A person acting on behalf of another. A person who works secretly to obtain information for a government or other official body; a spy.
  • foreign agent 1822– A person who represents or acts on behalf of one country while located in another; (in later use spec. ) a person who works secretly to obtain…
  • operative 1901– Originally and chiefly U.S. An agent employed by a detective agency, secret service, or similar organization; a private investigator. In later use…
  • spook 1942– slang (originally and chiefly U.S. ). An undercover agent; a spy.
  • under-cover 1962– An undercover agent. slang .
  • Abwehr agent 1990– General attributive , as Abwehr agent , Abwehr chief , Abwehr official , etc.
Spook (n), frightened negro.
The boss of the ward..was doing time for going with ‘ spooks ’—negroes.
I find a disturbing minority of my English contemporaries..pointedly tossing off inconsequential remarks about spades and spooks in my company.
We almost had another riot... The bar-owner..shoots a spook in his parking lot.
  • Afric Old English– A native or inhabitant of Africa, esp. a black African; = African , n. A.1a.
  • Ethiop Old English– A black or dark-skinned person; a black African; (occasionally) an Ethiopian.
  • Moor Old English– Originally: a native or inhabitant of ancient Mauretania, a region of North Africa corresponding to parts of present-day Morocco and Algeria. Later…
  • bloman a1225–1400 A black man.
  • Ethiopian a1325– A native or inhabitant of Ethiopia. Also: †a black or dark-skinned person ( obsolete ). Cf. earlier Ethiop , n.
  • blue man a1387– A black man; an African; = bloman , n.
  • Morian a1387–1737 = Moor , n.² 1.
  • black man a1398– A dark-skinned man, esp. a man of sub-Saharan African or Australian Aboriginal origin or descent. Also: †a dark-haired or swarthy man ( obsolete ). Cf…
  • blackamoor 1525– Now archaic and offensive . A black person, esp. an African; (formerly) spec. †an Ethiopian ( obsolete ). Also: any dark-skinned person.
  • black Morian 1526–99 = blackamoor , n. 1.
  • black boy 1530– A dark-skinned boy or youth.
  • molen 1538 Perhaps: a Moor. Cf. Morian , n.
  • Nigro 1548–1865 = Negro , n. & adj.
  • Nigrite 1554–97 = Negro , n. A.1a.
  • Negro 1555– A member of a dark-skinned group of peoples originally native to sub-Saharan Africa; a person of black African origin or descent. In early use… The term Negro remained the standard designation throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, and was still used as a standard designation, preferred by prominent black American campaigners such as W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, until the middle years of the 20th cent. With the rise of the Black Power movement in the 1960s, the designation black was reclaimed as an expression of racial pride and, since then, the term Negro (together with related terms such as Negress ) has fallen from favour and is now typically regarded as out of date or even offensive in both British and American English. Negro is still, however, used in positive contexts as part of the names of certain organizations, particularly the United Negro College Fund, and in historical context, with reference to baseball's Negro Leagues.
  • neger 1568– Now regional (chiefly Caribbean ). Usually derogatory . = Negro , n. A.1a.
  • nigger 1577– This word is one of the most controversial in English, and is liable to be considered offensive or taboo in almost all contexts (even when used as a self-description). A dark-skinned person of sub-Saharan African origin or descent; = Negro , n. A.1a. Used by people who are not black as a relatively neutral (or…
  • Kaffir 1607– offensive . A black person, esp. one from southern Africa. In later use derogatory . Now chiefly historical .
  • black 1614– Also with capital initial. A member of any dark-skinned group of peoples, esp. a person of sub-Saharan African origin or descent. Also (esp. Austr …
  • thicklips a1616– A person or animal characterized as having thick or full lips. Sometimes in derogatory and offensive use as term or name for a black person (esp. in…
  • Hubshee a1627– An Abyssinian (now historical ); an Ethiopian.
  • black African 1633– (a) n. A dark-skinned African; esp. one who is a native or inhabitant of sub-Saharan Africa (cf. black Africa , n. ); (b) adj. of or relating to…
  • Sambo 1657– Originally ( depreciative ): used as a nickname for a black person. Later ( derogatory and offensive ): used as a hostile or contemptuous term for a…
  • blackface 1704– Originally and chiefly U.S. A dark-skinned person. Also without article, as if a name. Now rare and offensive .
  • Cuffy 1713– (A name or nickname for) a black person (esp. a man). Cf. Cuff , n.⁵ 1. Now rare . Often in patronizing or derogatory use, and now usually regarded as offensive .
  • Nigritian 1738– Originally: a native or inhabitant of Nigritia, a region in central Africa corresponding to present-day Sudan and several countries to the west of…
  • fellow 1753–1860 North American ( U.S. regional ( southern ) in later use) depreciative . A black man. Obsolete .
  • Cuff 1755– (A name or nickname for) a black person (esp. a man); = Cuffy , n. 1. Now rare . Often in patronizing or derogatory use, and now usually regarded as offensive .
  • blacky 1759– A black person. Frequently without article, as though a proper name. Now offensive .
  • mungo 1768– A black person, esp. a slave. Also used as a proper name.
  • Quashie 1774– Caribbean ( offensive and chiefly derogatory ). A generic name for: a black person, esp. one considered as credulous or insignificant.
  • darkie ?1775– Originally North American . A dark-skinned person of sub-Saharan African origin or descent. Now colloquial and often offensive or derogatory (see…
  • snowball 1785– derogatory and offensive . (An insulting name or term of abuse for) a black person.
  • blue skin 1788– derogatory . A black person or a person of mixed black and white descent. Now rare .
  • Moriscan 1794 A Moor. rare .
  • sooty 1820– offensive (usually derogatory or depreciative ). A dark-skinned person of sub-Saharan African origin or descent; a black person. Sometimes also more…
  • sooterkin 1821– transferred . Chiefly applied to persons in allusive senses; sometimes = Dutchman. Also attributive .
  • blackfellow 1827– An Australian Aboriginal man or (occasionally) woman. Now frequently considered offensive .
  • ebony 1830– Originally U.S. A black person; (now usually) a black woman, spec. one with very dark skin. Now colloquial and offensive outside of black usage.
  • nig c1832– Used chiefly as a term of abuse or contempt, this word is likely to be considered racially offensive or taboo in almost all contexts (even when used as a self-description). colloquial and derogatory (chiefly U.S. ). = nigger , n. (in various senses).
  • Jim Crow 1838– Derogatory and offensive . A black person.
  • tar brush 1838– derogatory and offensive . A black or dark-skinned person.
  • tar baby 1839– derogatory and offensive . U.S. A black person, esp. a child having skin that is considered to be particularly dark.
  • dark-skin 1845– Usually derogatory and offensive . A black or dark-skinned person; spec. ( Australian ) a person of Australian Aboriginal origin or descent. ( obsolete ).
  • moke c1847– U.S. derogatory ( offensive ). A black person. Also (in extended use): a dark-skinned person of any race. Now rare .
  • coon 1848– slang ( derogatory and offensive ). A black person; a person of African origin or descent; an African American person.
  • dinge 1848– slang ( offensive and derogatory ). Cf. sense B U.S. A black person; (sometimes) spec. a black musician. Cf. dingy , n.
  • dark meat 1849– U.S. slang ( derogatory ). A black or dark-skinned person regarded as a sexual object; black or dark-skinned people considered collectively…
  • monkey 1849– Originally U.S. ( derogatory and offensive ). A non-white or dark-skinned person.
  • dark 1853– A member of a black or dark-skinned group of people. Now rare (usually derogatory and offensive in later use).
  • Sam 1854– Originally and chiefly U.S. Usually depreciative or derogatory . Now likely to be considered offensive . A black man; (more generally) a black person; spec. one who is considered to be demeaningly obedient or deferential to white people (cf. Uncle Tom , n. …
  • ebon 1859– U.S. A black person. Now rare , archaic , and likely to be considered offensive .
  • Negroid 1860– Originally Ethnology . Now dated and potentially offensive . A person of this physical type.
  • kink 1865– U.S. slang ( derogatory and offensive ) A black person. Now rare .
  • schvartze 1886– slang (now offensive ). In Jewish usage: a black person.
  • fuzzy-wuzzy 1890– derogatory and offensive . Chiefly in colonial and imperial contexts: a member of a non-white Indigenous people, esp. a black African person (often…
  • Rastus 1895– U.S. slang ( derogatory and offensive ). A nickname for: a hypothetically average or typical African American man.
  • dingy 1896– U.S. slang . ( offensive and derogatory ). A black person. Cf. sense A.2b, dinge , n.² A.3a. Now somewhat rare .
  • race man 1896– A black man, esp. one who (strongly) advocates the rights of black people; a supporter of black nationalism; cf. race woman , n.
  • Zulu 1899– Originally and chiefly U.S. derogatory (now usually considered offensive ). A dark-skinned person of sub-Saharan African origin or descent; a black…
  • possum 1900– slang (usually derogatory ). U.S. An African American. possum in the woodpile : = nigger in the woodpile n. at nigger , n. & adj. phrases P.2b.
  • golliwog 1903– British slang ( offensive ). A black or dark-skinned person, esp. a person of African origin or descent. Cf. wog , n.¹ 1a.
  • shine 1908– An abusive term for a black person. Also attributive . U.S. slang .
  • jigaboo 1909– U.S. slang ( depreciative and offensive ). A black person; an African American.
  • jong 1912– offensive . (A patronizing or derogatory term for) a black or Coloured ( coloured , adj. A.I.3d) man or boy. Also as a form of address.
  • smoke 1913– An abusive and offensive term for a black person. U.S. slang .
  • jazzbo 1918– A black person. Frequently depreciative .
  • eight ball 1919– U.S. slang ( derogatory and offensive ). A black person.
  • boogie 1923– U.S. slang ( derogatory and offensive ). Now somewhat rare . A black person.
  • jig 1924– U.S. slang ( depreciative and offensive ). A black person, an African American.
  • melanoderm 1924– A member of a dark-skinned people.
  • monkey chaser 1925– (a) U.S. slang ( offensive ), a black person from the Caribbean or other tropical region; (b) colloquial a drink of sweetened gin (see quot. 1952).
  • spade 1928– slang (originally U.S. ) depreciative and offensive . As a term of contempt or casual reference among white people: a black person, esp. a black…
  • jit 1931– U.S. slang ( depreciative and offensive ). A black person; an African American.
  • Afro 1942– A (British or American) person of African descent; a black person.
  • nigra 1944– U.S. colloquial and regional (chiefly southern ). Usually offensive . = Negro , n.
  • tar pot 1944– U.S. slang ( derogatory and offensive ). A black person; esp. a black child. Cf. tar baby , n. 1a. Now rare .
  • spook 1945– slang (originally and chiefly U.S. ). A derogatory term for a black person.
  • munt 1948– slang ( derogatory and offensive ). Among some white people in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, an insulting term for: a black African.
  • Tom 1956– A familiar shortening of the male forename Thomas . Originally U.S. slang ( derogatory ). Chiefly in African American usage. A black person regarded…
  • boot 1957– slang . offensive . A derogatory term for a black person.
  • soul brother 1957– colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S. ). In African American usage: a black man or boy, esp. as regarded by other black people. Cf. soul sister , n. …
  • golly 1959– British slang ( offensive ). A black or dark-skinned person, esp. a person of African origin or descent. Cf. golliwog , n. 2.
  • nig-nog 1959– British slang ( derogatory and offensive ). A black or dark-skinned person. Also attributive or as adj.
  • member 1962– U.S. slang . A black person, esp. one regarded as a compatriot.
  • pork chop 1963– U.S. slang ( derogatory ). In black nationalist contexts: a corrupt or untrustworthy black person, esp. a black nationalist who regards African culture…
  • splib 1964– U.S. slang . Frequently derogatory and offensive , esp. outside African American usage. A black person.
  • blood 1965– slang (originally and chiefly in African American usage). Also with capital initial. A black person; (occasionally) (with the ) black people…
  • jungle bunny 1966– A derogatory term used by some white people to designate black people, Australian Aborigines, etc.
  • non-voter 1966– South African colloquial ( ironic ). In urban (esp. township) use: a black person. Now historical .
  • moolinyan 1967– U.S. slang ( offensive ). Among Italian-Americans: a black person. Cf. moolie , n.
  • boogaloo 1972– U.S. slang ( derogatory and offensive ). Now rare . A black person. Cf. boogie , n.²
  • pongo 1972– derogatory and offensive . A black person. rare .
  • nappy head 1973– U.S. slang ( derogatory ). A black person.
  • moolie 1988– U.S. slang ( offensive ). Among Italian-Americans: = moolinyan , n.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation keys.

  • ð th ee
  • ɬ rhingy ll

Some consonants can take the function of the vowel in unstressed syllables. Where necessary, a syllabic marker diacritic is used, hence <petal> /ˈpɛtl/ but <petally> /ˈpɛtl̩i/.

  • a trap, bath
  • ɑː start, palm, bath
  • ɔː thought, force
  • ᵻ (/ɪ/-/ə/)
  • ᵿ (/ʊ/-/ə/)

Other symbols

  • The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress.
  • The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress.
  • Round brackets ( ) in a transcription indicate that the symbol within the brackets is optional.

View the pronunciation model here .

* /d/ also represents a 'tapped' /t/ as in <bitter>

Some consonants can take the function of the vowel in unstressed syllables. Where necessary, a syllabic marker diacritic is used, hence <petal> /ˈpɛd(ə)l/ but <petally> /ˈpɛdl̩i/.

  • i fleece, happ y
  • æ trap, bath
  • ɑ lot, palm, cloth, thought
  • ɔ cloth, thought
  • ɔr north, force
  • ə strut, comm a
  • ər nurse, lett er
  • ɛ(ə)r square
  • æ̃ sal on

Simple Text Respell

Simple text respell breaks words into syllables, separated by a hyphen. The syllable which carries the primary stress is written in capital letters. This key covers both British and U.S. English Simple Text Respell.

b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w and z have their standard English values

  • arr carry (British only)
  • a(ng) gratin
  • o lot (British only)
  • orr sorry (British only)
  • o(ng) salon

spook typically occurs about 0.2 times per million words in modern written English.

spook is in frequency band 4, which contains words occurring between 0.1 and 1 times per million words in modern written English. More about OED's frequency bands

Frequency of spook, n. , 1800–2010

* Occurrences per million words in written English

Historical frequency series are derived from Google Books Ngrams (version 2), a data set based on a corpus of several million books printed in English between 1500 and 2010. The Ngrams data has been cross-checked against frequency measures from other corpora, and re-analysed in order to handle homographs and other ambiguities.

The overall frequency for a given word is calculated by summing frequencies for the main form of the word, any plural or inflected forms, and any major spelling variations.

Smoothing has been applied to series for lower-frequency words, using a moving-average algorithm. This reduces short-term fluctuations, which may be produced by variability in the content of the Google Books corpus.

Frequency of spook, n. , 2017–2023

Modern frequency series are derived from a corpus of 20 billion words, covering the period from 2017 to the present. The corpus is mainly compiled from online news sources, and covers all major varieties of World English.

Smoothing has been applied to series for lower-frequency words, using a moving-average algorithm. This reduces short-term fluctuations, which may be produced by variability in the content of the corpus.

Compounds & derived words

  • spooky , adj. 1854– Of, relating to, or characteristic of spirits or the supernatural; frightening, eerie. colloquial.
  • spook , v. 1871– To frighten or unnerve; spec. (of a hunter, etc.) to alarm (a wild animal). slang (chiefly North American).
  • spookical , adj. 1886–
  • spookism , n. 1886–
  • spookic , adj. 1887–
  • spookery , n. 1893– Spookiness, eeriness; also, something spooky.
  • spookish , adj. 1893–
  • spookology , n. 1893–
  • spookological , adj. 1897–
  • spookist , n. 1902– A spiritualist or medium.

Entry history for spook, n.

spook, n. was first published in 1914; not yet revised

spook, n. was last modified in July 2023

Revision of the OED is a long-term project. Entries in oed.com which have not been revised may include:

  • corrections and revisions to definitions, pronunciation, etymology, headwords, variant spellings, quotations, and dates;
  • new senses, phrases, and quotations which have been added in subsequent print and online updates.

Revisions and additions of this kind were last incorporated into spook, n. in July 2023.

Earlier versions of spook, n. were published in:

OED First Edition (1914)

  • Find out more

OED Second Edition (1989)

  • View spook, n. in Second Edition

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Citation details

Factsheet for spook, n., browse entry.

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Definition of spook noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • a castle haunted by spooks

Questions about grammar and vocabulary?

Find the answers with Practical English Usage online, your indispensable guide to problems in English.

  • a CIA spook

Other results

Nearby words.

spook in meaning in english

Meaning of "spook" in the English dictionary

Etymology of the word spook, pronunciation of spook, grammatical category of spook.

See the conjugation of the verb spook in English .

WHAT DOES SPOOK MEAN IN ENGLISH?

Definition of spook in the english dictionary.

The first definition of spook in the dictionary is a ghost or a person suggestive of this. Other definition of spook is any pale or colourless alcoholic spirit. Spook is also to frighten.

CONJUGATION OF THE VERB TO SPOOK

Conditional, words that rhyme with spook, words that begin like spook, words that end like spook, synonyms and antonyms of spook in the english dictionary of synonyms, synonyms of «spook», words relating to «spook», translation of «spook» into 25 languages.

online translator

TRANSLATION OF SPOOK

Translator english - chinese, translator english - spanish, translator english - hindi, translator english - arabic, translator english - russian, translator english - portuguese, translator english - bengali, translator english - french, translator english - malay, translator english - german, translator english - japanese, translator english - korean, translator english - javanese, translator english - vietnamese, translator english - tamil, translator english - marathi, translator english - turkish, translator english - italian, translator english - polish, translator english - ukrainian, translator english - romanian, translator english - greek, translator english - afrikaans, translator english - swedish, translator english - norwegian, trends of use of spook, tendencies of use of the term «spook».

Trends

FREQUENCY OF USE OF THE TERM «SPOOK» OVER TIME

Examples of use in the english literature, quotes and news about spook, 4 quotes with «spook», 10 english books relating to «spook», 10 news items which include the term «spook».

Cambridge Dictionary

  • Cambridge Dictionary +Plus

Meaning of spooking in English

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  • chill someone to the bone/marrow idiom
  • doom monger
  • heart-stopping
  • make someone's blood curdle idiom
  • scare someone into doing something
  • scare someone shitless idiom
  • scare/frighten the life out of someone idiom
  • scaremongering
  • the heebie-jeebies

Examples of spooking

In English, many past and present participles of verbs can be used as adjectives. Some of these examples may show the adjective use.

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spook in meaning in english

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IMAGES

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  2. 13 Spooky Words in English That Give Us Chills

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  4. 🔵 Spook Meaning

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  5. Spook

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  6. Spook synonyms

    spook in meaning in english

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COMMENTS

  1. SPOOK

    spook noun [C] (SPIRIT) Add to word list informal for ghost : The film was dreadful - all spooks and vampires. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases Souls, spirits & ghosts apparition astral plane astral projection aura chi ectoplasm haunted incorporeal incubus necromancer necromancy possessed reincarnation soul spectrally succubus séance

  2. Spook Definition & Meaning

    : to make frightened or frantic : scare especially : to startle into violent activity (such as stampeding) intransitive verb : to become spooked cattle spooking at shadows Synonyms Noun agent asset emissary intelligencer mole operative spy undercover Verb affright alarm

  3. SPOOK Definition & Usage Examples

    noun Informal. a ghost; specter. Slang. a ghostwriter. Slang. an eccentric person. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a Black person. Slang. an espionage agent; spy. verb (used with object) to haunt; inhabit or appear in or to as a ghost or specter. Informal. to frighten; scare.

  4. SPOOK definition in American English

    1. countable noun A spook is a ghost. [informal] 2. countable noun A spook is a spy. [US, informal] ...a U.S. intelligence spook. Synonyms: spy, secret agent, double agent, secret service agent More Synonyms of spook 3. transitive verb If people are spooked, something has scared them or made them nervous. [mainly US]

  5. Spook

    1. Informal A ghost; a specter. 2. Slang A secret agent; a spy. 3. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a black person. v. spooked, spook·ing, spooks v.tr. 1. To haunt. 2. To startle and cause nervous activity in; frighten: The news spooked investors, and stock prices fell. v.intr. To become frightened and nervous.

  6. Spook

    spook: 1 n a mental representation of some haunting experience Synonyms: ghost , shade , specter , spectre , wraith Type of: apparition , fantasm , phantasm , phantasma , phantom , shadow something existing in perception only n someone unpleasantly strange or eccentric Synonyms: creep , weirdie , weirdo , weirdy Type of: disagreeable person , ...

  7. spook

    4.1 Noun English [ edit] Etymology [ edit] Borrowed from Dutch spook ("ghost"), from Middle Dutch spooc ("spook, ghost"). Cognate with Middle Low German spôk, spûk ("apparition, ghost"), Middle High German gespük ("a haunting"), German Spuk, Danish spøge ("to haunt"), Swedish spöke ("ghost"). Doublet of puck . Pronunciation [ edit]

  8. spook

    spook. From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English spook1 /spuːk/ noun [ countable] informal 1 a ghost 2 especially American English a spy Examples from the Corpus spook • Paltry charges, it would seem, for so celebrated a spook. • And these foreign spooks, these non-existents on the pay-rolls of any Western army, were part of that scheme.

  9. spook

    spook. UK /spuːk/ noun 1. (informal) a ghost 2. (informal, mainly North American English) a spy a CIA spook 3. (US English, offensive, dated) a black person verb (with object) (informal) 1. frighten; unnerve they spooked a couple of grizzly bears 2. (no object) (especially of an animal) take fright suddenly he'll spook if we make any noise.

  10. spook

    v.t. to haunt; inhabit or appear in or to as a ghost or specter. Informal Terms to frighten; scare. v.i. [ Informal.]to become frightened or scared: The fish spooked at any disturbance in the pool. Dutch; cognate with German Spuk 1795-1805, American. spook′er•y, n. spook′ish, adj. Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

  11. spook_2 verb

    Definition of spook_2 verb in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Meaning, pronunciation, picture, example sentences, grammar, usage notes, synonyms and more.

  12. Spook Definition & Meaning

    Britannica Dictionary definition of SPOOK. chiefly US, informal. 1. [+ object] : to scare or frighten (a person or animal) The noise spooked the cat. The little girl was spooked by scary masks. 2. [no object] : to become frightened. She doesn't spook easily.

  13. spook, n. meanings, etymology and more

    … 1878 The corners of New England which spooks and spirits were the last to leave. W. H. Daniels, That Boy i Show more quotations (b) 1859 Broom, avaunt thee! To thy nook there! Lie, thou spook, there! W. E. Aytoun & T. Martin, translation of J. W. Goethe, Poems & Ball., Magician's Apprentice 102 … 1891

  14. spook_1 noun

    Definition of spook_1 noun in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Meaning, pronunciation, picture, example sentences, grammar, usage notes, synonyms and more. ... English American English. Enter search text. Definition of spook noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

  15. SPOOK definition and meaning

    1. countable noun A spook is a ghost. [informal] 2. countable noun A spook is a spy. [US, informal] ...as a U.S. intelligence spook said yesterday. Synonyms: spy, secret agent, double agent, secret service agent More Synonyms of spook 3. verb If people are spooked, something has scared them or made them nervous . [mainly US]

  16. etymology

    English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. ... In many books, I've seen the word 'spook' used to mean some kind of spy. Definition 5 on dictionary.reference.com confirms this usage, but is not very helpful about the origin.

  17. Meaning of "spook" in the English dictionary

    A noun is a type of word the meaning of which determines reality. Nouns provide the names for all things: people, objects, sensations, feelings, etc. The verb is the part of the sentence that is conjugated and expresses action and state of being. See the conjugation of the verb spook in English.

  18. Spook

    Spook is a synonym for ghost. Spook or spooks may also refer to: . People. Spook (nickname), shared by several notable people Per Spook (born 1939), Norwegian fashion designer; a ghostwriter; a racial slur referring to a black person; an undercover agent or spy; Places. Spook Bridge, an abandoned bridge over the Withlacoochee River, Georgia, United States; Spook Cave, a flooded cave in Iowa, US

  19. What does spook mean? definition, meaning and audio pronunciation (Free

    Dictionary entry overview: What does spook mean? • SPOOK (noun) The noun SPOOK has 2 senses:. 1. someone unpleasantly strange or eccentric 2. a mental representation of some haunting experience Familiarity information: SPOOK used as a noun is rare. • SPOOK (verb) The verb SPOOK has 1 sense:. 1. frighten or scare, and often provoke into a violent action ...

  20. SPOOKING

    Meaning of spooking in English spooking Add to word list present participle of spook spook verb [ T ] uk / spuːk / us / spuːk / to frighten a person or animal: Seeing the police car outside the house really spooked them. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases Frightening and scaring chill someone to the bone/marrow idiom cow creep curdle

  21. Why was "Spook" a slur used to refer to African Americans?

    1 I don't think Spookwaffe was a German nickname, I think it was a derogatory nickname used by whites. "When they were initially deployed in Europe, they were initially ignored and often called the "Spookwaffe"" -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell_Steward

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