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Halloween is almost here! I love Halloween. It’s a day when you can wear a weird, funny or scary costume and eat a lot of candy. Over the years, I’ve dressed up as a witch, a belly dancer, Snow White, a cowgirl, a nurse, a Geisha girl and even an old woman - I think that last costume was my favorite!
On Halloween (October 31st), people also decorate their houses. They might put up scary and creepy decorations, or they might put out pumpkins or carved pumpkins called jack o-lanterns. Some people even turn their houses into haunted houses.
My parents live in a nice residential area in California, and they get HUNDREDS of kids knocking on their door on Halloween asking for candy. This process of going to different houses and asking for candy is called “trick or treating.”
The kids who go trick or treating usually look so cute in their costumes...but some of them wear really scary or gruesome costumes!
Feeling scared (or trying to scare someone else) is a big part of Halloween. So this Halloween I’d like to share some spooky idioms and expressions with ghosts, skeletons, witches and all things SCARY.
If thinking about English idioms makes you white as a ghost (i.e. so scared that you turn white) don’t worry! All these scary, and not so scary, idioms are explained below:
IDIOMS WITH GHOSTS, SKELETONS, AND WITCHES
(To make someone/to turn) white as a ghost - to be so scared that you turn white in the face
Example: I turned white as a ghost when I was watching that scary movie at night, all alone.
(To be like a/to be a) ghost town - for a place to be vacant, with few or no people there
Example: We went to the mall yesterday and there was no one there! It was like a ghost town.
Skeleton staff - when only the bare minimum amount of people are working at a company or organization
Example: The company will be working running on a skeleton staff over the holidays. Almost all of the managers and secretaries will be on vacation.
To have skeletons in your closet - to have secrets hidden in your past that you don’t talk about
Example: My grandmother never talked about her past. I bet she had some skeletons in her closet that she never told us kids about.
The witching hour - Sometime around midnight or right before (comes from the time when witches cast their spells!)
Example: Well, I have to get up early tomorrow -it’s time for me to go home, it’s almost the witching hour.
Witch hunt - a crazy search that usually involves blaming innocent people
Example: After someone vandalized the principal’s office door with hot pink paint, the school staff went on a witch hunt and searched all the students' lockers.
IDIOMS ABOUT FEELING SCARED OR FRIGHTENED
To give someone the heebie-jeebies - to make someone so scared they tremble or shunder
Example: Aaah!! Stop talking about ghosts! It’s giving me the heebie-jeebies.
To make your blood run cold - to get so scared that you feel cold
Example: It made her blood ran cold when she woke up and saw the TV on and the door wide open,
To scare the daylights out of - to be so scared that it feels like your breath and energy leaves your body
Example: When that dog got into our yard, he scared the daylights out of our cat. Our cat was hissing and ran up a tree.
Quaking in your boots - to be so scared that your legs and feet are shaking/quaking
Example: When my boss told me to see him in his office, I was quaking in my boots. I just KNEW he must have found out about my failed project.
To scare the pants off of someone - to really scare or frighten someone
Example: It scared the pants off of Daniel when he got in that car accident. But at least he wasn’t hurt...and now he drives much more safely.
Happy Halloween to you! Can you think of a time when you felt scared? Use one of these idioms and write in the comments below.
Learn to speak real, conversational American English with Sabrina, an American English teacher.
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