Halloween: 5 Phrases

On October 31 here in the U.S., we celebrate the holiday of Halloween!

It has an interesting history, which you can read about here.

For most people – especially kids – Halloween means dressing in a costume, eating candy, and maybe some scary activities like visiting a haunted house or watching a scary movie. Popular decorations are pictures of skeletons, witches, and ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns.

Today, we’re going to learn about some popular Halloween-related vocabulary and phrases! Watch the video and read along!


A jack-o-lantern is a pumpkin (real or plastic) that has a face drawn or carved into it with a knife. With a real pumpkin, people often put a candle inside it so that the face lights up. With a plastic jack-o-lantern, it often has a handle so that children can use it to collect candy on Halloween.

jackolantern halloween

Bonus vocabulary word: A “lantern” is something like a lamp that you carry.



For Halloween, it is common for children, and sometimes even adults, to wear a costume, or to dress up as someone else. For example, a cowboy, a princess, or a super hero. Children might wear the costume to school and at night, wear it around their neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. Many adults wear costumes to Halloween parties or maybe even to work.

halloween costume


Trick or treat!

When children go to their neighbor’s houses to ask for candy on Halloween, when someone opens the door, the children say “Trick or treat!” It means, “I’ll play a trick on you, or you need to give me a treat (candy)!” But in reality, there is no “trick.” The children just say “Trick or treat,” and they get candy from the person at the door.

“To go trick-or-treating” means when children go from door to door in the neighborhood on Halloween asking for candy.



A nightmare is a very bad, frightening dream. There is an old series of scary Halloween movies called “Nightmare on Elm Street.”


haunted house

When a place is haunted, it means that ghosts or spirits live there. It is popular during the Halloween season (for a few weeks leading up to Halloween) for people to visit a “haunted house” to get scared. But the house is not really haunted! To go to a haunted house means that you walk through the house and other people – dressed as ghosts or zombies or witches or something else scary – jump out at you to make you scream. Here is a video example of people going through a haunted house, from The Ellen Show. It’s really funny!


What about you?

Is there a celebration like Halloween in your country? Do you celebrate Halloween? What is (or would be) your costume this year?


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