trick or treat

noun
variants: or trick-or-treat
|Updated on: 11 Jul 2018

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

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

  1. We got all dressed up for trick or treat.

  2. When the door opened the kids all shouted “Trick or treat!”.

Recent Examples of trick or treat from the Web

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.

First Known Use of trick or treat

1931

in the meaning defined above

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TRICK OR TREAT Defined for English Language Learners

trick or treat

Definition of trick or treat for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

trick or treat

noun

Definition of trick or treat for Students

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

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