trick or treat

variants: or trick-or-treat

Definition of trick or treat

: a Halloween practice in which children wearing costumes go from door to door in a neighborhood saying "trick or treat" when a door is opened to ask for treats with the implied threat of playing tricks on those who refuse … a whimsical 1951 Saturday Evening Post cover on which costumed children are surprised by a disguised adult who opens the door for trick-or-treat.Antiques and The Arts Weekly

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Other Words from trick or treat

trick-or-treat intransitive verb trick-or-treated; trick-or-treating; trick-or-treats
I drive home at lunch and pick the boys up for trick-or-treating. Marcus is a rancher and Howie's an accountant. He's wearing thick fake lips and carrying a ledger. The Park's the only safe place to trick-or-treat anymore. — George Saunders
trick-or-treater noun, plural trick-or-treaters
A year ago, his wife suggested that he might feel better if he wore his old pirate-captain costume when he opened the door to trick-or-treaters, but a little boy in the first group of callers—a four-year-old who was ferociously costumed as a snaggletoothed monster—burst into tears at the sight of him. — Calvin Trillin
trick-or-treating noun
This is a guy who went trick-or-treating in catcher's gear while the rest of his friends dressed as mummies and mass murderers. — Franz Lidz

Examples of trick or treat in a Sentence

We got all dressed up for trick or treat. When the door opened the kids all shouted “Trick or treat!”.

Recent Examples on the Web

Don't expect your child to trick or treat all evening. Tara Clark, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A fright-free Halloween: How to celebrate with your child with special needs," 9 Oct. 2017 Kids will enjoy Halloween activities, trick or treating spots, a craft project and lunch. Elaine Rewolinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Fall and winter festivals, fairs and other events in Wisconsin," 13 Oct. 2017 Things that can keep your kid busy in those days that follow trick or treat. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What color is your pumpkin? Ideas for non-food treats in honor of the Teal Pumpkin Project," 16 Oct. 2017 And for the more subtle decorators, there a slew of super-cute displays that are much more low-key. Check out these meddling mice, a simple trick or treat text, or this tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "These Halloween Stair Decals Will Instantly Transform Your Home Into a Haunted House," 7 Oct. 2018 Homemade treats We've all been indoctrinated that homemade is a no-no at trick or treat. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What color is your pumpkin? Ideas for non-food treats in honor of the Teal Pumpkin Project," 16 Oct. 2017 Check-in, 10-10:45 a.m.; walk, 11 a.m. Non-competitive walk, 1 to 5 K. Also trick or treat giveaways, children’s activities, snacks and refreshments, entertainment, door prizes and exhibits. The Courier-Journal, "50+ fun things for week of Oct. 12-18," 12 Oct. 2017 Casillas loved baseball, and when Game 6 of the World Series fell on Halloween last year, the two spent the night watching the Dodgers play while their wives took their children trick or treating. Sarah Parvini,, "'He was twice the man that I was': Mourners honor slain Pomona Police Officer Greggory Casillas," 22 Mar. 2018 The big trade in the NFL this week is like the Halloween scene where Charlie Brown and friends go out to trick or treat. Tom Krasovic,, "The Alex Smith trade — winners everywhere, almost," 31 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trick or treat.' 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 trick or treat

1931, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for trick or treat

The first known use of trick or treat was in 1931

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More Definitions for trick or treat

trick or treat


English Language Learners Definition of trick or treat

: a custom on Halloween in which children knock on people's doors and say "trick or treat" when the doors are opened to ask for candy

trick or treat


Kids Definition of trick or treat

: a children's Halloween practice of going around usually in costume asking for treats

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trick or treat

Comments on trick or treat

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


a strong desire or propensity

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