Definition of spook in English:



  • 1A ghost.

    • ‘Judge Steve Evans takes on these unspooky spooks and non-existent ghosts - and he doesn't mind one bit.’
    • ‘Lillard is psychic, which means he can find a spook if it gets out, except, when it comes to it, he can't.’
    • ‘In their flower-powered custom van, the Mystery Machine, this teenage detective agency prowls the countryside in search of suspicious spooks and phony phantoms.’
    • ‘Once the spooks speak, we get a little immersive action.’
    • ‘Ireland is, after all, the ancestral home of spooks, goblins and faeries, and this piece seems haunted six times over.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, Scary Stories has neither the laughs nor the spooks to make it a howling success.’
    • ‘The Ghosts Of Pac-Man asks a number of searching questions about the blamanche-like spooks in the early eighties video arcade game.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Oh, yeah a stupid Xmas spook shows up to complete the episode's main purpose.’
    • ‘They said that he only came out at night to eat cats and squirrels, and he was the local spook.’
    • ‘As the end credits rolled I thought to myself, ‘Hey, where the heck are the spooks?’’
  • 2North American A spy.

    ‘a CIA spook’
    • ‘He's a joy as the completely amoral spook who suddenly finds himself sliding out of his depth in a vortex of shifting loyalties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The recent string of intelligence failures has provoked calls for creating a Director of National Intelligence who would have broad oversight over all spooks.’
    • ‘A trip to a deserted carnival turns up a team of spooks intent on scaring everyone away.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dredged from central casting are U.S. spooks on a renegade mission to kill him.’
    • ‘Upon returning to the U.S., Williams hears from a friend, an ex-Pentagon spook named Ken Ritz.’
    • ‘‘The spooks and their uniformed agencies are both part of a smokescreen to divert attention from the real culprits,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A lip-reading spook may be following an outdoor conversation through binoculars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘Nobody ever heard of paying spooks until we began the practice,’ said ancient Abraham, cackling wheezily.’
    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 contemptuous term for a black person.


[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • 1 Frighten; unnerve.

    ‘they spooked a couple of grizzly bears’
    • ‘That prospect is spooking Japan's markets in the run-up to Upper House elections on July 11.’
    • ‘A horror story's got to spook you and intrigue you.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, he acknowledges that the company struggled with execution issues and that his departure spooked investors.’
    • ‘Though not particularly large, they were barking wildly and getting under their hooves with enthusiasm, spooking all the horses.’
    • ‘Detective Harris, to what do I owe the pleasure of you spooking my friends away?’
    • ‘Of course, the money's not going back to the stock market, which spooks the central bankers.’
    • ‘The results were good enough to spook the competition.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Today business buyers are spooked by luxury deals, since it's tough to predict how far this downturn will go.’
    • ‘Still, something about Shooter's presence and the similarity of the stories spooks Rainey.’
    • ‘It somewhat spooked Russell, according to the liner notes.’
    • ‘Gee, a ghost turned on the tap and spooked somebody.’
    • ‘That sparked one of the few signs of rebellion at a hospital where the administration has moved gingerly to avoid spooking doctors.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Last year it ran into problems with regulators and the tax authorities, temporarily spooking investors.’
    • ‘Her cell phone goes off and spooks Stevie's steed.’
    • ‘It isn't just the ill-timed expansion that's spooking investors.’
    • ‘And in hopes of spooking overseas investors, the union is making the case that the sale might be illegal under Taiwan's constitution.’
    appal, horrify, shock, shake, shake up
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    1. 1.1[no 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.