trick or treat


variants or 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
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 Community members can dress up and trick or treat between cars in a parking lot. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 7 Aug. 2023 There's an economic impact, of course, with the presence of Giannis – the $50 million pumped into the city in the championship year in 2021 one example – but there's a societal shift with him sharing in the Wisconsin State Fair and trick or treat on Halloween. Lori Nickel, Journal Sentinel, 24 Feb. 2023 Kids can trick or treat through a kid-friendly maze. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 26 Oct. 2022 Little girls dress up as La Catrina, a Mexican embodiment of death, to trick or treat—typically in commercial downtown areas rather than in residential neighborhoods. Amber Dance, Discover Magazine, 29 Oct. 2018 Suburban towns have set some limits, so here are the official Halloween trick or treat hours. Daniel I. Dorfman, Chicago Tribune, 24 Oct. 2022 The big question is: Will the weather fall into the trick or treat category? Leigh Morgan, al, 28 Oct. 2022 What typically are people worrying about popping up in the trick or treat basket? The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, 19 Oct. 2022 Kids get to trick or treat at different stations throughout park. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 26 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trick or treat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1927, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trick or treat was in 1927

Dictionary Entries Near trick or treat

Cite this Entry

“Trick or treat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

trick or treat

: a children's Halloween practice of going around usually in costume asking for treats
trick-or-treat verb
trick-or-treater noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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