1 of 2


: an undercover agent : spy
spookish adjective


2 of 2


spooked; spooking; spooks

transitive verb

: to make frightened or frantic : scare
especially : to startle into violent activity (such as stampeding)

intransitive verb

: to become spooked
cattle spooking at shadows

Examples of spook in a Sentence

Noun Russia recalled its spooks after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Halloween is the night when spooks and goblins are said to roam abroad. Verb The noise spooked the cat. The little girl was spooked by scary masks.
Recent Examples on the Web
And for those truly looking for a spook, stay overnight at the Tarrytown House Estate, believed to have rooms haunted by ghosts. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 15 Aug. 2023 Why does her benign response to a throwaway sentiment about old age spook like a damning confession? Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Aug. 2023 Another source of spooks at the hotel, according to Bagans, stems from the Central School. Jose R. Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, 15 July 2023 These mischievous, occasionally demonic, spooks of traditional Japanese folklore are known collectively as yokai. Hikari Hida, New York Times, 16 Apr. 2023 The best way to get a quick spook in before the end of the day is by lounging in your living room with a good flick. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 12 Apr. 2023 Why not make your house a Halloween spook factory? oregonlive, 1 Oct. 2020 In Bamford’s eyes, much if not all the Russiagate story was a put-up job by spooks, journos, and politicians. Tim Weiner, The New Republic, 27 Mar. 2023 When Jay Powell makes comments about the rate tightening cycle being higher or longer than expected, this spooks markets because investors worry about how this might impact the bottom line for companies. Q.ai - Powering A Personal Wealth Movement, Forbes, 9 Mar. 2023
Tapping into public unease about the short-term costs of decarbonizing the economy (rather than attempting to do anything about that) is now a wedge issue that the Tories hope to exploit against Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, which is timid and easily spooked about such things. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 21 Sep. 2023 That performance spooked investors, with shares dropping 5.2% the next trading session, a move that dragged the whole sector down as well as the CAC 40 Index. Angelina Rascouet, Fortune, 8 Sep. 2023 That large assumption of debt evidently spooked investors after the Tuesday announcement. Tim Fitzpatrick, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Sep. 2023 Mike Aiello, Universal Orlando Resort’s senior director of Entertainment Creative Development and an HHN mastermind confessed he even gets spooked sometimes. Eve Chen, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2023 Weak quarterly earnings later this year wouldn’t spook Wall Street as much as data showing persistent inflationary pressure would, according to Thompson. Bryan Mena, CNN, 3 Sep. 2023 These developments have spooked home buyers, who were already wary. Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2023 Christina Ricci knows a thing or two about spooking people thanks to her iconic role as Wednesday Addams in a pair of Addams Family movies. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 1 Sep. 2023 The Gilgo Beach murders were a series of slayings that spooked Long Island, New York, for years. Marlene Lenthang, NBC News, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

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

First Known Use


1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1883, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spook was in 1801

Dictionary Entries Near spook

Cite this Entry

“Spook.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spook. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun


2 of 2 verb
: to make or become frightened : scare

More from Merriam-Webster on spook

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