What English do I need to know for Halloween?

Do you celebrate Halloween in your country?

Halloween is a day of parties and activities and is on October 31 every year.

In Halloween, people, especially children, often wear costumes (eg. as ghosts, witches, princesses, pirates). They also make all kinds of Halloween decorations and food (eg. pumpkin pie) and eat a lot of snacks and candy.

The idea of Halloween comes from a very old Celtic festival where people used to light fires and wear costumes to scare away ghosts. But these days it’s much more fun.

Here are seven common English words and phrases you will need for Halloween.

  1. dress up (phrasal verb)

Meaning: Wear special clothing for an event; often more formal or traditional

eg. My daughter dressed up as a witch for the Halloween party.

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2. Jack-o’-lantern (noun)

Meaning: a pumpkin with a face cut into it and a candle put inside to shine through the holes; usually made for Halloween.

eg. The children all made Jack-o’-lanterns to prepare for Halloween.

3. put on (phrasal verb)

Meaning: Dress yourself in something or put something on your skin, face, etc. (eg. makeup, a watch)

eg. Some of the children put on face paint for the Halloween party.

4. decorate (verb)

Meaning: Make something look better/nicer by putting things on it; often for a special or traditional event

eg. We decorated our classroom walls with pictures of ghosts and witches.

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5. show off (phrasal verb)

Meaning: Show people somebody/something that you are proud of

eg. Jack showed off his vampire costume to all his friends.

6. trick or treat (phrase)

Meaning: a traditional activity at Halloween where children dress in costumes and visit houses in their neighborhood. At each house they say ‘Trick or treat?’ This means if they don’t get a treat (eg. candy) then they play a ‘trick’, or joke on the people in the house.

eg. The parents took their children trick or treating in their neighborhood.

7. have a ball (idiom)

Meaning: Have a very enjoyable time (=have a blast)

eg. The children all had a ball at the Halloween party.

Related links:

How can I explain my country’s food?

What does ‘Can you give me a hand?’ mean?