\ ˈspük How to pronounce spook (audio) \

Definition of spook

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : ghost, specter
2 : an undercover agent : spy


spooked; spooking; spooks

Definition of spook (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to become spooked cattle spooking at shadows

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Other Words from spook


spookish \ ˈspü-​kish How to pronounce spook (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for spook

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Early-morning light on a field blind can cast a 20-foot shadow and spook birds from a hundred yards. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "6 Hacks For Hiding Your Layout Blind," 11 Oct. 2017 There’s still time to get your spook on, or snag that perfect pumpkin. oregonlive, "5 things to do this week: Legacy of Genghis Khan, Jamelle Bouie and Howloween," 21 Oct. 2020 Even those who plan to forgo trick-or-treating can find ways to get their spook on this year. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "Neil Patrick Harris teases family's Halloween costumes for 2020: 'I've got a clever idea'," 21 Oct. 2020 Still, this year has been a tough one for the spook business. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Coronavirus is killing haunted houses, but we still have real horror stories to scare you," 15 Oct. 2020 What definitely didn’t play a role in the ship’s sinking is the infamous spook of the nearby Bermuda Triangle, whose boundaries lie in the vicinity of Bear Wreck. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Lost Ship Rediscovered After Disappearing Near Bermuda Triangle 95 Years Ago," 3 Feb. 2020 To some, every Chinese traveller is a potential spy; others dismiss fears of rampant Chinese spooks as paranoia. The Economist, "The shape-shifting threat of Chinese espionage," 21 Nov. 2019 The films, based on Ian Fleming’s novels, focused on a British spook who was impudent and resourceful, a wizard with women and weaponry, and impeccably dressed but capable of back-alley brutishness. Adam Bernstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Honor Blackman, actress who played a Bond woman in ‘Goldfinger,’ dies at 94," 7 Apr. 2020 Many are based in Western countries or their allies, and employ former spooks who learned their craft in intelligence agencies. The Economist, "Western firms should not sell spyware to tyrants," 12 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Blowback to McConnell from conservatives such as Fox News host Sean Hannity, who said that McConnell should step down as leader over his openness to conviction, could spook the senators. Emily Brooks, Washington Examiner, "Republican senators all over the place on impeachment," 22 Jan. 2021 Tencent is known as a fierce competitor that can spook any upstart. Zheping Huang, Bloomberg.com, "Tencent Reassures Investors Spooked by China Internet Clampdown," 12 Nov. 2020 Business)Janet Yellen checks all the boxes in President-elect Joe Biden's quest to find a Treasury secretary who won't spook Wall Street, alienate progressives or forget about Main Street's plight. Matt Egan, CNN, "Why Janet Yellen makes so much sense as Treasury secretary," 23 Nov. 2020 But when the other three members of the family (and the horse) arrive, the isolated estate seems to spook them all (including the horse). Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“The Nest,” Reviewed: Jude Law Plays a Banker Who Buys Into Money’s Lies," 17 Nov. 2020 The free diver is able to move through the water much more easily, and there are no bubbles or regulator noises to spook fish. Popular Science, "Take a stab at spearfishing with these tips," 16 Nov. 2020 Moreover, the offensive lull the Lions went through the second half of last season should spook you. Phil Thompson, chicagotribune.com, "Fantasy football: Target these players — and dump these players — in the 2nd half of the season," 6 Nov. 2020 Trying not to spook deer while scouting is seldom effective. Tony Hansen, Outdoor Life, "A Strategy for Hunting Mature Bucks on Public Land (That Actually Works in the Real World)," 9 Oct. 2020 The threat to the arrangement between Apple and Google didn’t spook investors. Rob Copeland, WSJ, "Google’s Exclusive Search Deals With Apple at Heart of U.S. Lawsuit," 20 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spook.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of spook


1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1883, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for spook


Dutch; akin to Middle Low German spōk ghost

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Statistics for spook

Cite this Entry

“Spook.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spook. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for spook



English Language Learners Definition of spook

chiefly US, informal
: to scare or frighten (a person or animal)
: to become frightened


\ ˈspük How to pronounce spook (audio) \
spooked; spooking

Kids Definition of spook

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make or become frightened



Kids Definition of spook (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on spook

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spook

Nglish: Translation of spook for Spanish Speakers

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