\ ˈspük How to pronounce spook (audio) \

Definition of spook

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from spook


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for spook

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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 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 The apparent aims of the digital deception underscore the parallels between Russia’s campaign of disinformation and the GOP’s embrace of debunked theories that paint Trump as the victim of British spooks and deep-state saboteurs. Washington Post, "Russian disinformation network said to have helped spread smear of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine," 17 Dec. 2019 Experience the science behind the spooks with hands-on activities. Liv Martin, Twin Cities, "Carve that pumpkin and dust off your witch hat. Halloween week is upon us.," 24 Oct. 2019 Two teens got a solid spook when a hungry bear stumbled into their cabin and helped themselves to the food in the fridge, including some pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "It's Wild Out There! All the Surprising Places Wild Bears Have Popped Up This Year," 22 Oct. 2019 Its spooks would remain perfectly capable of hacking networks run by Western companies. The Economist, "Huawei has made a peace offering that deserves consideration," 12 Sep. 2019 Halloween may be over, but the spooks and scares are still coming, of all places in the form of a new Netflix comedy special. Gerrad Hall, EW.com, "Comic Iliza Shlesinger is on fire in new Netflix special UnVeiled — watch the trailer," 6 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Investors are spooked by China's move to clamp down on Hong Kong with a new security law designed to muzzle the pro-democracy movement. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Global stocks plunge as tensions flare between Hong Kong and China," 22 May 2020 Investors are increasingly spooked about the stability of Son’s empire and its $100 billion Vision Fund amid the pandemic. Pavel Alpeyev, Bloomberg.com, "SoftBank’s Bet on Sharing Economy Backfires With Coronavirus," 8 May 2020 Clearly, investors are spooked by the widening coronavirus outbreak and the likely impact of the public-health measures that are being taken to deal with it. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus Calls for Wartime Economic Thinking," 16 Mar. 2020 Financial markets have been spooked by concerns the deadly virus. Editors, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus fears, Trump hits South Carolina, NFL Combine Day 2: 5 things to know Friday," 28 Feb. 2020 People are being spooked by the novelty rather than the severity of the infection. Robert Dingwall, Wired, "We Should Deescalate the War on the Coronavirus," 29 Jan. 2020 Still, the board members are spooked by the possibility. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Time check: Examining the Doomsday Clock’s move to 100 seconds to midnight," 23 Jan. 2020 Tagovailoa’s injury history appears to have spooked some teams. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Miami GM: ‘We have an idea of who we like’ for Dolphins’ first pick," 17 Apr. 2020 And, most important, try not to get spooked out of the market when prices are falling. Adam Shell, USA TODAY, "How to handle your stocks and retirement savings when the market is volatile," 6 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spook

Time Traveler for spook

Time Traveler

The first known use of spook was in 1801

See more words from the same year

Statistics for spook

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spook.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spook. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on spook

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spook

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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