Definition of spook in English:



  • 1informal A ghost.

    • ‘In their flower-powered custom van, the Mystery Machine, this teenage detective agency prowls the countryside in search of suspicious spooks and phony phantoms.’
    • ‘Oh, yeah a stupid Xmas spook shows up to complete the episode's main purpose.’
    • ‘In this one, the team helps Walter Catlett and his daughters oust the spooks who are haunting the old house they've inherited, which is right next door to a nightclub.’
    • ‘Ireland is, after all, the ancestral home of spooks, goblins and faeries, and this piece seems haunted six times over.’
    • ‘They said that he only came out at night to eat cats and squirrels, and he was the local spook.’
    • ‘Once the spooks speak, we get a little immersive action.’
    • ‘As the end credits rolled I thought to myself, ‘Hey, where the heck are the spooks?’’
    • ‘‘I was using the word spooks,’ Silk wearily protests, ‘in its customary and primary meaning: ‘spook’ as a specter or a ghost.’’
    • ‘And nothing is scary here - not the glitter ghosts, not the fake cemetery spooks that make Ed Wood's graveyard look downright realistic, and definitely not the dopey looking undead who stumble drunkenly around.’
    • ‘Judge Steve Evans takes on these unspooky spooks and non-existent ghosts - and he doesn't mind one bit.’
    • ‘The Ghosts Of Pac-Man asks a number of searching questions about the blamanche-like spooks in the early eighties video arcade game.’
    • ‘Lillard is psychic, which means he can find a spook if it gets out, except, when it comes to it, he can't.’
    • ‘However, Scary Stories has neither the laughs nor the spooks to make it a howling success.’
    • ‘Don't let the undeniably spooky DVD box art fool you: That toothy spook only appears a few times and not in any sort of pervasive or effective manner.’
  • 2North American informal A spy.

    ‘a CIA spook’
    • ‘The recent string of intelligence failures has provoked calls for creating a Director of National Intelligence who would have broad oversight over all spooks.’
    • ‘When the original pilot for The Dating Game goes nowhere, he is recruited by a CIA spook and sent to Mexico to make his first kill.’
    • ‘The picture is best when it makes fun of the pompous self-importance of spooks, and dares to portray the political and military establishment as an empire of idiots.’
    • ‘Upon returning to the U.S., Williams hears from a friend, an ex-Pentagon spook named Ken Ritz.’
    • ‘He's a joy as the completely amoral spook who suddenly finds himself sliding out of his depth in a vortex of shifting loyalties.’
    • ‘I wouldn't let them operate or give me a shot until a spook from our Embassy in Mexico City came down and stayed with me day and night in the bed next to me for four days.’
    • ‘‘Nobody ever heard of paying spooks until we began the practice,’ said ancient Abraham, cackling wheezily.’
    • ‘A trip to a deserted carnival turns up a team of spooks intent on scaring everyone away.’
    • ‘Dredged from central casting are U.S. spooks on a renegade mission to kill him.’
    • ‘A lip-reading spook may be following an outdoor conversation through binoculars.’
    • ‘The Pentagon vigorously opposes that recommendation, but even a rookie spook can figure out that big changes are in the air.’
    • ‘I really did want to write about crime, espionage, and politics, from the position that all spooks have got to be bad guys.’
    • ‘Burke hooks Clayton in by suggesting that his father, who died under mysterious circumstances 10 years earlier, may actually have been a CIA spook as well.’
    • ‘‘The spooks and their uniformed agencies are both part of a smokescreen to divert attention from the real culprits,’ he said.’
    secret agent, undercover agent, enemy agent, foreign agent, secret service agent, intelligence agent, double agent, counterspy, industrial spy, fifth columnist, mole, plant, scout
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  • 3US dated, offensive A black person.


[with object]informal
  • 1Frighten; unnerve.

    ‘they spooked a couple of grizzly bears’
    • ‘Though not particularly large, they were barking wildly and getting under their hooves with enthusiasm, spooking all the horses.’
    • ‘The results were good enough to spook the competition.’
    • ‘And in hopes of spooking overseas investors, the union is making the case that the sale might be illegal under Taiwan's constitution.’
    • ‘Gee, a ghost turned on the tap and spooked somebody.’
    • ‘Even if he gives Congress such evidence in the next few weeks, how intelligent was it to spook all our allies first and then drag out the evidence?’
    • ‘The tale spooked the executives enough to make them reexamine their assumptions about oil price and supply.’
    • ‘It somewhat spooked Russell, according to the liner notes.’
    • ‘It isn't just the ill-timed expansion that's spooking investors.’
    • ‘Urban myths are the stuff of nightmares; the stories people tell to spook each other, such as the two lovers in a remote lane, at a time when an escaped mental patient is on the loose.’
    • ‘Her cell phone goes off and spooks Stevie's steed.’
    • ‘Detective Harris, to what do I owe the pleasure of you spooking my friends away?’
    • ‘But it is a policy that must be pursued on the quiet so as not to spook the country's growing legion of foreign creditors.’
    • ‘Last year it ran into problems with regulators and the tax authorities, temporarily spooking investors.’
    • ‘Of course, the money's not going back to the stock market, which spooks the central bankers.’
    • ‘Still, something about Shooter's presence and the similarity of the stories spooks Rainey.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, he acknowledges that the company struggled with execution issues and that his departure spooked investors.’
    • ‘That prospect is spooking Japan's markets in the run-up to Upper House elections on July 11.’
    • ‘Today business buyers are spooked by luxury deals, since it's tough to predict how far this downturn will go.’
    • ‘A horror story's got to spook you and intrigue you.’
    • ‘That sparked one of the few signs of rebellion at a hospital where the administration has moved gingerly to avoid spooking doctors.’
    appal, horrify, shock, shake, shake up
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    1. 1.1no object (especially of an animal) take fright suddenly.
      ‘he'll spook if we make any noise’
      • ‘A minute later, her horse spooked and Kaz spooked along with her.’
      • ‘Perhaps at an even slower pace, with more stunning images and settings, this movie would really spook.’
      frighten, make afraid, make fearful, make nervous, panic, throw into a panic
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Early 19th century: from Dutch, of unknown origin.