spook

noun
\ ˈspük How to pronounce spook (audio) \

Definition of spook

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

spook

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from spook

Noun

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for spook

Synonyms: Noun

agent, asset, emissary, intelligencer, mole, operative, spy, undercover

Synonyms: Verb

affright, alarm (also alarum), fright, frighten, horrify, panic, scare, scarify, shock, startle, terrify, terrorize

Antonyms: Verb

reassure

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An ’80s pop classic with just the right amount of spook. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "33 Epic Halloween Songs To Make Up For Your Last-Minute Costume," 29 Sep. 2018 Bring the spook to your Halloween dessert table with these sweet (and sticky!) decorations. Redbook Test Kitchen, Redbook, "Marshmallow Ghosts," 19 Sep. 2018 Every so often the Central Intelligence Agency uses the proviso to seize the profits of a book by an incautious ex-spook. The Economist, "Memo to White House staff: keep talking," 22 Mar. 2018 Top water bite has started early and late, try spooks, poppers, or buzz baits. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Fishing report: Catfish action picking up in Kansas, Missouri lakes," 11 July 2018 The accusation that Corbyn might have been an asset for spooks behind the Iron Curtain was quickly embraced by top Tory politicians. William Booth, Washington Post, "Britain in a stir over accusation that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a Cold War ‘asset’ for Czech spies," 20 Feb. 2018 Top water bite has started early and late, try spooks, poppers, or buzz baits. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Fishing report: Catfish action picking up in Kansas, Missouri lakes," 11 July 2018 Top water bite has started early and late, try spooks, poppers, or buzz baits. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Fishing report: Catfish action picking up in Kansas, Missouri lakes," 11 July 2018 On many of these Mrs May has responded more robustly than Tony Blair did following the fatal poisoning in 2006, with polonium, of another Russian ex-spook, Alexander Litvinenko. The Economist, "Britain’s poisoned relationship with Russia," 15 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Stock indexes fell sharply, apparently spooked by signs that the growing trade war could have a negative impact on American companies. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Trump’s tariffs backfire in his face as Harley-Davidson says it will move some production overseas," 26 June 2018 Investors have also been spooked by the new president’s plans to build a new refinery, and eventually produce most of Mexico’s gasoline domestically and halt crude-oil exports. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Mexico Unveils Plan to Support State Oil Company Pemex," 15 Feb. 2019 Dogs can get easily spooked during hurricanes and may take off, scaling even a large fence. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence household hacks go viral ahead of major storm," 13 Sep. 2018 Its plan to keep a 24% stake in Air India, and presumably board seats, spooked people further. The Economist, "Plans to privatise India’s flag-carrier have run into turbulence," 9 June 2018 If the bloody mess spooked Brady, the X-ray results—no significant bone or structural damage, and only a minor sprain in one collateral ligament—reassured all involved parties. Greg Bishop, SI.com, "Once Again, Tom Brady and the Patriots Are—Hands Down—the Super Bowl Favorites," 23 Jan. 2018 On October 27, less than 24 hours before its fatal crash, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 experienced a glitch that spooked the flight crew. Barbara S. Peterson, Popular Mechanics, "Lion Air 610 Had the Same Problem Four Flights in a Row Before It Crashed," 5 Nov. 2018 That platform called for spending plansthat could have potentially raised the country’s indebtedness and clashed with European Union fiscal rules, which spooked mnarkets. Washington Post, "Italy in chaos as effort to form Western Europe’s first populist government collapses," 27 May 2018 Both were constant reminders the suspect was under interrogation, which could spook the suspect into backing out. Krista Torralva, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Noor Salman verdict reignites criticism of FBI's recording policy," 4 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of spook

Noun

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1883, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for spook

Noun

Dutch; akin to Middle Low German spōk ghost

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spook

Dictionary Entries near spook

spontoon

spoof

spoofer

spook

spookery

spookfish

spookism

Statistics for spook

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spook

The first known use of spook was in 1801

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spook

spook

verb

English Language Learners Definition of spook

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

spook

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

Kids Definition of spook

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make or become frightened

spook

noun

Kids Definition of spook (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on spook

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spook

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spook

Spanish Central: Translation of spook

Nglish: Translation of spook for Spanish Speakers

Comments on spook

What made you want to look up spook? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to move or proceed with twists and turns

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!