\ 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 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


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Examples of spook in a Sentence


Russia recalled its spooks after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Halloween is the night when spooks and goblins are said to roam abroad.


The noise spooked the cat. The little girl was spooked by scary masks.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There’s more spooks, spider-clowns and splattering fluids, and even 34 more minutes of terrifying adventures with Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Katie Walsh, chicagotribune.com, "‘It Chapter Two’ review: More clowning around with Pennywise and friends, less connection with the Losers Club," 3 Sep. 2019 California’s Disneyland resort has a new spook-tacular Halloween celebration this year inspired by Tim Burton’s 1993 animated musical dark fantasy. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Disneyland Is Throwing an After-Hours Halloween Party Inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas," 7 Aug. 2019 The group that petitioned to move Halloween to the last Saturday of October has a new proposal: Rather than change the date, why not add a whole extra day of spooks and haunts? Scottie Andrew And Brian Ries, CNN, "The people behind that Halloween petition want to create a new holiday: National Trick or Treat Day," 31 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 800 points on Wednesday, as recession worries spooked investors. Orla Mccaffrey, Dallas News, "Dallas banker George Jones takes CrossFirst Bankshares public for more than $100 million," 15 Aug. 2019 One sign that immigrant families are already spooked in California is the drop in the number of households in which only children are eligible and enrolled in food stamps, usually because the parents are undocumented. Jackie Botts, The Mercury News, "What does Trump’s latest immigration crackdown mean for California?," 15 Aug. 2019 Little Angel’ Though Waldo was on a leash, the dog reportedly broke free after getting spooked by a pedestrian and running out into the street. Matt Mcnulty, PEOPLE.com, "Sophie Turner Is All Smiles with New Puppy During Miami Trip with Joe Jonas After Dog Waldo's Death," 3 Aug. 2019 Witness Lynn Harris told the news site Gothamist people had noticed the ducks and were following beside them, trying to provide a safe escort when the mother duck was spooked by a dog. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ducks, stuck, loose: Police rescue 3 ducklings from grate," 30 July 2019 Lackluster earnings are likely to underscore the frothy values, possibly spooking investors. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Could a second straight quarter of falling earnings signal a possible recession?," 22 July 2019 The stock market was mostly flat last year, with investors spooked about various trade wars launched by Trump against China and other countries. Damian Paletta, Washington Post, "Trump insists Fed should cut interest rates, even though economists say that’s usually a sign of ‘economic distress’," 19 July 2019 No matter everyone’s sense of humor, even scaredy cats alike will love being trick or treated to a spook-tacular new play on words. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "64 Halloween Puns for Giving All Your Ghoul Friends a Good Cackle," 18 July 2019 Analysts say that's because last year's tax-cut boost is fading away and trade war has businesses spooked. CBS News, "The corporate profits gravy train is derailing," 11 July 2019

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

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spook

The first known use of spook was in 1801

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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)

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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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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