Spooky sayings to get you in the mood for Halloween

Spooky sayingsAs the witching hour of Halloween approaches, it seems fitting to make spooky sayings and phrases the next topic in my series about idioms in the English language.

I hadn’t realised quite how many spooky sayings we use in everyday conversation – from ghosts, witches and skeletons to bats, cats, rats and owls. I guess it’s an indication of what a superstitious bunch we are – or used to be…

Spooky sayings explained

Bats in the belfry = crazy or eccentric

Blood is thicker than water = family bonds are closer than those of outsiders

Dead ringer = an exact duplicate

Ghost town = a once thriving town that’s been completely abandoned

Give up the ghost = die or, in the case of inanimate objects, cease working

Graveyard shift = a late-night/early-morning shift at work

Heebie jeebies = feeling of anxiety or apprehension

In cold blood = do something intentionally and without showing any emotion

Look like you’ve seen a ghost = suddenly go completely pale as if you’ve just had a shock

Make no bones about = state a fact in such a way that it allows no doubt; have no objection

Make one’s blood boil = feel really angry

Make one’s blood run cold = feel really scared

Moaning Minnie = a habitual grumbler

Night owl = a person who’s most active at night-time (like nocturnal creatures)

Not a cat in hell’s chance = no hope at all (this was originally “No more chance than a cat in hell without claws” referring to the difficulty of fighting a battle with inadequate weapons)

Scared stiff = so frightened you can’t move

Scare the pants off someone = frighten someone a lot

Skeleton in the cupboard/closet = keep a shameful secret that could be potentially ruinous if exposed

Skeleton staff = minimum number of people required to do a job

Smell a rat = suspect that something is wrong; be suspicious about something

Spirit away = remove something or someone in a mysterious manner

Witch hunt = investigation to ‘out’ those who are disloyal or have differing views (this expression harks back to the Middle Ages when thousands of women were persecuted and killed because they were believed to be witches)

Wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose = used to describe someone who is very shy and timid

Happy Halloween… Be afraid, be very afraid!

(Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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