Spooky English

Spooky English

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking* around the corner.”

Evan Peters, an American actor

*to lurk is to wait somewhere secretly, especially before doing something bad

Spooky means sinister or ghostly in a way that causes fear and unease. Look at the things in the pictures below. They all are rather spooky:

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Synonyms for spooky:

  1. sinister /ˈsɪnɪstə/ – making you feel that something bad or evil might happen: The house in the first picture has a sinister appearance.
  2. ghostly – pale and transparent in a way that does not seem real, like a ghost: The ghostly figure of the girl is really scary.
  3. eerie /ˈɪəri/ – strange in a frightening and mysterious way: We often hear eerie sounds in horror films.
  4. uncanny – strange or mysterious; difficult or impossible to explain: His uncanny resemblance to Stalin is scary.
  5. chilling – frightening: What a chilling tale!
  6. spine-chilling – very frightening: He told them a spine-chilling ghost story.
  7. creepy – strange and frightening: My neighbor is a creepy man. I try to avoid him.
  8. hair-raising – frightening but in an enjoyable way: It was a rather hair-raising journey down the mountain road.

Related: Fear English

We usually use the adjective spooky to describe places, but there is a famous song by Dusty Springfield in which he describes her boyfriend as a spooky man. Let’s listen…

The lyrics are here.

Useful vocabulary from the song:

  • groovy – very fashionable and interesting
  • to call sb. up = to call sb.
  • I don’t know where I stand = I’m not certain about what you think or feel about me
  • to haunt – to appear in a place repeatedly (Just like a ghost, you’ve been haunting my dreams.)

As Dusty Springfield compares her boyfriend to a ghost in the song, it’s OK to say that the man is spooky.


My name is Caren. About six month ago, my husband Russ and I moved into a house in the country. Our house is the middle one of three row houses and it’s more than a hundred years old. A young couple lives in the house on our right, but the house on our left was empty and for sale.

We had been living in the house for about two months when we were both suddenly woken up in the middle of the night by a loud noise. We could hear the sound of furniture being moved in the empty house next door. It sounded as if somebody was moving something very heavy, like a table or a bad, by dragging it across the floor. I looked at my watch. I said to Russ, “What are they doing moving furniture at this time of the night? It must be the new owners. I’ll speak with them tomorrow.” Just then the noise stopped, but five minutes later it started again and this time it carried on for several minutes. Finally it stopped completely, and we were able to go back to sleep.

The next morning I rang the doorbell next door, but there was no answer, and when I looked through the curtains, the house still looked completely empty. I called the real estate agent and asked him if he had come to the house the previous night to move furniture. He said that he hadn’t and he was as mystified as us about the noises.

I asked the real estate agent who had lived in the house previously, and he told me that an old lady had been living there for many years, but she had suddenly died a few months ago. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but Russ and I can find no logical explanation for the noises we heard that night.

(from “American English File 4 second edition” by C.Latham-Koenig and C.Oxenden)

  • row houses: in architecture and city planning, a terrace or terrace house (UK) or townhouse (US) is a form of medium-density housing that originated in Europe in the 16th century. They are also known in some areas as row houses or row homes (especially in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C.). (from Wikipedia.org)
  • to carry on – to continue
  • real estate – buildings and land (read estate businesses or real estate agents sell houses, buildings, and land. In term “real estate” is common in America English. In British English, “estate agency/agents” is commonly used.)
  • mystified – very puzzled and confused

How would you explain what Caren and Russ experienced? Do you think it was a ghost? Has anything spooky ever happened to you? Feel free to share your spooky experience(s) in the comments below.

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Happy Halloween everyone! 👻

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