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AMC’s Shudder: Is This Spooky Streaming Service Worth It?

spooky english idioms

Are you a fright-fest fanatic in the mood for haunting tales and scary flicks? With Halloween on the horizon, there’s no better time of year to amp up the terror by indulging in some spooktacular programming. Whether you’re a fan of pure horror, slasher films, psychological thrillers, monster movies, or cult classics that are as nostalgic as they are nauseating, plenty of streaming services offer Halloween-themed marathons to satisfy your needs.

But what’s a true horror fan to do when all the ghoulish gross-outs are spread out across multiple platforms? Put down the hockey mask and machete — AMC’s Shudder  is here to administer your necessary dose of screams. With hundreds of films and TV show episodes on its roster, this horror-only streaming service might be just what you need to quench your thirst for terror. Ready to conjure up Candyman or mingle with Michael Myers? Find out what Shudder offers and whether it’s worth the subscription price.

Shudder: A Platform for Horror Fanatics, by Horror Fanatics

spooky english idioms

Shudder is a streaming platform designed to meet the niche needs of a key group of film buffs: horror fans. By all accounts, the streaming service has successfully pulled off this mission. Shudder is a premiere service that offers scary programming — and only scary programming — in the form of old and new films, television shows, and documentaries that fall into the genres of horror, supernatural, and thriller themes. It caters to movies and episodic horror fans and provides an impressive library of options to explore.

What makes Shudder such a fantastic platform is its variety. Shudder’s collection of films and shows spans hundreds of movies, dozens of TV shows, and even a handful of horror-themed podcasts. The platform features a large number of classics that have defined the horror genre — think iconic flicks like John Carpenter’s Halloween , George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead , The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,  and Train to Busan . But it also offers up plenty of indie films, comedies, and old-school titles that paved the way for today’s horror. Ever watched Chopping Mall , Hell Night, or Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker ? With Shudder, you can dive into films that might not have crossed your radar before.

Shudder also organizes content by collections so you can spend less time reading endless summaries to hunt down the films or series that fit your taste. Curated collections like “Love Sick,” “Horror Noire,” “Anthologies” and “Queer Horror” make it easier to tap into the topics you’re dying to watch. And, what’s even better is that these super-specific lists aren’t left to the whims of AI software; instead, actual people — vetted horror fans — create the lineups, so you know they’re good. With over a million users subscribed to the streaming service, Shudder may have cracked the code for successfully spooky programming.

Shudder’s Perks Include Original Flicks and Spooky Shows

spooky english idioms

While Shudder features many classic horror flicks and shows, these aren’t the platform’s only claim to fame. It also provides exclusive and original content designed to appeal to Shudder subscribers One of the most popular original series available is Creepshow , which is inspired by the 1982 film of the same name (directed by George Romero and written by Stephen King) and the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s. Creepshow  is structured like an anthology, bringing horrifying comic panels to life and exploring everything from the supernatural to the super-strange. The platform is also releasing new episodes of the original series Slasher , which features a storyline about a family on a secluded island who’s forced to fight against one another for survival.

Shudder’s original films are also some of its highlights. The movie Host  was one of the top films of 2020 on Shudder’s platform. Recorded utilizing Zoom only (giving it that pandemic-anxiety vibe), the movie features a group of friends gathering online for a socially distant hangout…and succumbing to dark forces on each end of the camera. Another Shudder original is 2021’s Prisoners of the Ghostland which stars Nicolas Cage as a bank robber who has five days to find a wealthy man’s daughter otherwise, the bomb collar secured around his neck will detonate. These titles represent only a handful of the unsettling nailbiters within Shudder’s library. But what’s the verdict?

Is the Subscription Worth the Horrific Hype?

spooky english idioms

If you love all terror all the time, Shudder is the perfect platform for you. Even if you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or another popular streaming platform , Shudder has the widest variety of curated horror on the streaming market centralized in one place. With over 400 movies and hundreds of television episodes already on its docket, this collective of frightening tales is slated to only grow in size, with new films and episodes appearing weekly. Like most streaming platforms, you may not love all the content that you view on Shudder — but there’s a handy rating system (with skulls instead of stars!) so you know what fellow horror fans think.

The platform is easy to access through most devices and browsers, so you can queue things up on your Roku or fireTV device or take the streaming service with you on your laptop or phone. A standalone Shudder app is available via Google Play, Apple’s App Store, and Xbox One, and it works similarly to other streaming apps.

If you’re not sure you want to make the subscription leap, Shudder has you covered. It offers a seven-day, no-strings free trial so you can take your time browsing titles and collections to see if the variety is enough to capture your interest. Just keep in mind that you’d be hard-pressed to engage with all that Shudder has to offer within a week. As an added bonus, the platform is entirely ad-free.

Membership plans start at only $5.99 a month, making this an affordable option. To save a bit on this month-to-month price, you can opt to purchase a yearlong subscription for $56.99 — which comes out to $4.75 per month . If you’re more interested in getting your scare on for the Halloween season without committing to the entire year, subscribing to Shudder at least through October can help you scratch the itch.

Ultimately, if horror is your top streaming genre, signing up for Shudder is a no-brainer (sorry, zombies). With an influx of new flicks and shows frequently hitting its library and an affordable monthly fee, you won’t run out of terrifying titles anytime soon.


spooky english idioms

spooky english idioms

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Top 10 Halloween idioms and expressions

By jasmine damen, category: elt resources.

By jasminedamen

spooky english idioms

Happy Halloween everyone – we hope you’re having a spooky day! Read on (if you dare) to find out our top 10 favourite spook-tacular idioms and their meanings. We hope they don’t give you a scare!

Suggested activities for using idioms in the classroom

Book cover of How Idioms Work.

  • Picture match – Copy and cut up picture idioms and their corresponding written idioms. – Students match the idioms with the pictures.
  • Find the definition – Copy and cut up a selection of written idioms and definitions. – Students match each written idiom to its definition.
  • Memory game – Copy and cut up pictures and the corresponding written idioms. – Shuffle the cards and place them face down (five rows of three cards). – Students take turns to flip over two cards and see if they match. – If they match, the students keep them! If they don’t match, students replace the cards face down. – The winner is the student with the most pairs of matching cards.
  • Mime – In pairs, small groups or as a class. – A student takes one picture idiom from the pile and mimes what it depicts, while the other students guess what the idiom is.
  • Happy families – Copy and cut out picture idioms, their corresponding written idioms and their definitions. – Shuffle all the cards and deal half to students. – Put the remaining cards face down on the table. – Students look at the cards and try to make as many ‘families of three’ (i.e., picture, idiom, definition), as possible. – Students get rid of unwanted cards, and pick up new cards from the top of the pile.

You can find more suggested activities in How Idioms Work by Yvonne Clarke and Martin Jones.

And now, it’s time for some spooky idioms! As well as the idiom, meaning, and origin, there is also a list of useful websites and articles at the end of this blog, so be sure to check them out.

A skeleton waving out of a wardrobe or closet. Illustration.


Meaning: an embarrassing fact or scandal that someone wants to keep secret Example: Wherever he goes, he is worried that someone will find out about his skeleton in the closet. Origin: The Phrase Finder had a lot of information about the etymology of this idiom. It was first referenced in 19th century England by journalist William Hendry Stowell. “The dread of being the cause of misery to posterity has prevailed over men to conceal the skeleton in the closet…” ( The Eclectic Review , 1816).

The phrase was then more widely adopted into English thanks to William Makepeace Thackeray, a Victorian author who frequently used the phrase in his writing: “ … which will show us that they have a skeleton or two in their closets. ” ( The Newcomes; Memoirs of a Most Respectable Family , 1845). The Phrase Finder further suggests: “ What isn’t clear is whether the origin of the phrase lies in fiction, or with real life, so to speak, skeletons. “

A collection of houses with ghosts spookily flying out of them. Illustration.


Meaning: a deserted place where there are few or no people Example: I woke up at 5 a.m. to go for a run. It felt like a ghost town, I didn’t see anyone! Origin: This phrase can refer to an actual town that used to thrive, but now has little to no population. However, it can also frequently be used with a simile to describe somewhere as ‘like a ghost town’, as in the example above.

However, in terms of the origin – it’s a little tricky. Merriam-Webster states that the first known use of ‘ghost town ‘ was in 1931, but I can’t find any information to support this. Author Lambert Florin defines ‘ghost town’ as “ a shadowy semblance of a former self ” (source) , which could suggest why the word ghost was originally used to describe such a town. To use another idiom – the jury is still out on this one!

A frightened looking cat with wide eyes and it's tail pointed straight up in the air. Illustration.


Meaning: someone who is easily frightened Example: Don’t be such a scaredy cat … skydiving is fun! Origin: There are a lot of different suggestions for the origins of this phrase online. Know Your Phrase say that it most likely comes from the fact that cats are easily scared by things. The same source, and the Online Etymology Dictionary suggest that the first use of the word ‘scaredy-cat’ occured in 1906. It was used in the book Billy Bounce by W.W. Denslow: “ That is scaredy cat, and she will never come back” . However, Merriam-Webster states that its first known use was in 1948, which may be a reference to the short cartoon Scaredy Cat which was published in 1948. Source.

It’s also worth nothing that the phrase ‘fraidy-cat’ can also be used to mean the same thing, and is said to have first appeared in print in 1897.

A young boy looking scared with his legs together and arms straight against his waist. A ghost hovers in front of him. Illustration.


Meaning: very afraid, to the point where they are incapable of movement Example: Aza didn’t want to go on stage; she was scared stiff. Origin: The use of the word ‘stiff’ most likely refers to the idea that if something is stiff, it cannot be moved. However, it could also be a reference to another use of the word ‘stiff’, meaning a dead body.

This was a hard phrase to find any sort of solid information for. The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests that the first recorded instance of this phrase occurred in 1900. However, I couldn’t find the significance of this date on any other website. The Phrase Finder loosely references this phrase when talking about the origin of ‘scared out of my wits’.

A goose with the speech bubble 'boo' is in teh center. One small boy waves happily at the goose. A second small boy looks scared of the goose. Illustration.


Meaning: shy or nervous Example: I don’t think James would do that; he wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Origin: As with lots of words, it seems that this phrase has changed slightly over time. Word Histories clarifies that ‘boo’ refers to a later form of ‘ bo ‘ – an exclamation meaning to frighten, as opposed to an expression of disapproval.

The first instance of it being used in this context is: “ To be able to say Bo! to a goose is to be not quite destitute of courage …” (Notes and Queries , 1870). The website also states that the earliest printed version uses ‘shoo’: “ who can scarse say shue to a goose. ” ( A Seconde Admonition to the Parliament , 1572).

A spooky scene. A boy is lying next to a bush with legs together and arms straight down. His eyes are closed. A woman is standing on the other side of the bush blowing kisses at him. Illustration.


Meaning: very good looking Example: Friend 1: Do I look alright in this? Friend 2: Are you kidding? You look drop 👏 dead 👏 gorgeous!👏 Origin: In English, there are a lot of phrases which use the word ‘dead’ idiomatically! Drop-dead gorgeous is just one of those. In this phrase, ‘drop-dead’ is used as an intensifier, to exclaim astonishment about just how gorgeous someone is. The Phrase Finder references a report that was printed in the Shreveport Times in 1972. “Cher, drop-dead gorgeous in a second skin of silver, pink, purple and red sequins.”

An owl is perched on a branch, looking to the right. A crescent moon is glowing behind it. Illustration.


Meaning: a person who tends to stay up late; an evening person Example: He didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. – he’s such a night owl. Origin: This was originally simply a synonym for ‘owl’, as owls are nocturnal animals, meaning they are awake at night. However, the use of the term, when not simply talking about owls, was first used by William Shakespeare in a poem: “ The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch “. Source.

A gravestone with 'R.I.P. ME' is placed disjointed on the ground of a graveyard. A crow is perched atop the gravestone.  A pile of freshly dug soil with a spade is next to it. Illustration.


Meaning: to do something that will cause you harm or problems in the future Example: Student 1: I think I’m going to skip this lecture again. Student 2: Alright, but you’re digging your own grave. Origin: A research paper written by Arvo Krikmann suggests that this phrase could originate in a proverb: “ Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein. ” (Proverb 26:27). However Dictionary.com suggests it originated in the first half of the 1900s but gives no further information. Bit of a tricky one, and still up in the air!

A crow stands perched on a sign that reads 'GRAVEYARD'. In the foreground, a pick-up truck is driving away with lots of gravestones in the back. Illustration.


Meaning: a work shift that happens overnight Example: I have to work the graveyard shift tonight; I’m really not looking forward to it. Origin: The Phrase Finder talks about the questionable origin of this phrase so take the following origin story with a pinch of salt …

In the olden days in England, it is said that they were running out of places to bury bodies. They therefore started digging up coffins and moving the bones to ‘bone-houses’. Whilst doing this, they discovered scratch marks on the inside of the coffins, signalling that people had been accidentally buried alive (yikes). To stop this from happening, they attached a string around the wrist of corpses which was then attached to a bell. It is said it was someone’s job to sit in the graveyard all night (a ‘graveyard shift’) and see if the bell rang. Spooky stuff.

However, the first instance of this idiom appearing in print was in the US newspaper The Salt Lake Tribune in 1897: “… This month Sergeant Ware takes the morning relief. Sergeant Matt Rhodes the middle and Sergeant John Burbidge the graveyard shift.”

A boy on a motorbike is jumping over a gravestone in a graveyard. Illustration.


Meaning: used to express that you strongly oppose something, or won’t allow it to happen Example: Person 1: I thought we were going to split the money if we won. Person 2: Ha, over my dead body. Origin: Not much is known about the origin of this phrase. However, it has been suggested that it was in use during the 1800s as a “common hyperbolic expression” used in jokes. ‘Hyperbolic’ means that is is used in an exaggerated way for effect. Source.

Special thanks to our talented illustrator, Doug, for creating these spooky illustrations. You can find out more about Doug’s illustration process here .

Resources, websites & articles:

  • ELL stack exchange is a great forum for English language learners where you can find lots of threads of questions and answers
  • The Phrase Finder is a great source of phrases and origins
  • The blogger ‘ Shmaltzandmenudo ‘ often delves into famous sayings and their origins.
  • Word Histories is also a great website run by Pascal Tréguer. His blogs dive into the authentic origins of words and tries to dispel the myths that frequent the internet.
  • World Wide Words has lots of articles which investigates the English language across the globe.
  • Article: Idioms which include the word ‘dead’

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spooky english idioms

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10 Creepy English Idioms to Use This Hallowe'en!

  • October 31, 2019

Sharing is caring!

Happy Hallowe’en!! Welcome to the world when it’s closest to the other side. A night when shadows seem to suddenly take on the form of something else. When you’re not sure if you just heard a knock on the wall or… are you? When you find yourself glancing over your shoulder as you walk down a dark street only to have a group of children in festive gear scream past you on their way to another trick or treat.

In the spirit of Hallowe’en, we have created a list of the most ghoulish English language idioms. Get to know them and enjoy adding a sprinkle of spookiness to your conversations.  

1. Put a spell on you  

A fun, witchy way to describe someone being fascinated by something or being influenced by someone. It comes from somebody casting a spell on you and being powerless to its effects. An influence so strong, it has magical power.  

2. Spill your guts  

This is often said to someone who is holding a secret or keeping information from another person or persons. When trying to find out what it is, they may be told  “you  know what happened. Spill your guts!”  

3. Digging your own grave  

We must admit, the visual of this is pretty creepy  but its meaning is perfect. When someone knowingly does something that will get them in trouble, or starts to do something dangerous, you can tell them, “you are digging your own grave”.  

4. Play the Devil’s advocate  

This is a very visual way to describe someone who will always argue against an idea or suggestion. Usually for the sole purpose of listening to the other people validate their suggestion. An example of this idiom in a sentence would be, “We can’t make a decision because Jess is playing Devil’s advocate”.  

5. Like a bat out of hell  

“They were driving like a bat out of hell!” This idiom explains itself really. If you were in hell wouldn’t you want to get out of there as fast as possible?!  

6. Going on a witch hunt  

This idiom has deep roots in the dark history of the witch trials in the 17 th  century. Today, we reference it when we want to refer to someone who is blaming another person or group based purely on their own opinion but has nothing to do with the facts.  

7. Working the graveyard shift  

When you work the graveyard shift, you work between midnight and 8am. So, it’s just you and all things nocturnal… owls, zombies, witches and ghosts. Or maybe that was just Steve coming in the door because he’s also working the graveyard shift.   

8. A snowball’s chance in hell  

Back to hell for idiom no.8. Picture it: a snowball in the fiery depths of hell. It won’t survive in that heat, right? So, use this whenever a situation is hopeless.  Samanta: “I completely forgot about the English exam today! I didn’t study!” Marco: “Uh-oh, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing it now.”  

9. It makes my blood boil  

Have you ever been so angry or irritated that you felt you might explode? Then this is the phrase for you. The next time something annoys you, which hopefully won’t be anytime soon, just remember these words. “It makes my blood boil!”  

10. I am dead on my feet  

You know that feeling when you’re so tired that you can’t even think? The thought of trying to stand up or work or speak is impossible. Walking is not going to happen either. The tiredness is killing you. You know what that means? You’re dead on your feet, my friend!  

Have fun with these at any time of year, and wherever you are studying English . Idioms are a fun and playful way to practice English conversation more naturally. With time, you’ll start using them in conversation without even meaning to and that’s when you know you’re really mastering the English language. So, go out, have fun and stay spooky.  

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spooky english idioms

Spooky Halloween Idioms and Expressions

  • Post author: Harry
  • Post last modified: 28/10/2021
  • Post category: English Idioms
  • Reading time: 10 mins read

10 Halloween idioms and expressions to boost your vocabulary and improve your English speaking skills.

Listen to the podcast Speak Better English with Harry or watch it on YouTube at Learn English with Harry .

List of Halloween Idioms


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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
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skeleton  in the closet (cupboard)

Meaning: to have an embarrassing secret about your past, something that a person tries hard to conceal

The company did not disclose information to its customers because they had a skeleton in the closet.

a ghost town

Meaning: abandoned place (village, town or city) where nobody lives

There are ghost towns all over the world.

Share and help other students to improve English skills

To make someone’s blood boil.

Meaning: to make someone very angry

This story makes my blood boil.

to put / stick the knife in

Meaning: to do something unkind or unpleasant to someone, particularly when they are weak

The manager stuck the knife in when he told me that my hours had been reduced at work.

English Video lesson

Difference between dead, death, killed & murdered.

Do you know what is the difference between DEAD and KILLED ? Or what is the difference between MURDER and MURDERED ? I have created this English video lesson for you:

spooky english idioms

smell a rat

Meaning: to suspect that something is wrong or something dishonest is happening

He smelled a rat and passed the letter on to the investigation committee.

scared stiff

Meaning: to get so scared that you are not able to move

I was scared stiff when I heard noises in my house last night.

Meaning: a campaign against a person or group who have different or unpopular views

There was a lot of witch-hunting in the ruling party.

not a cat in hell’s chance

Meaning: no chance at all

Jason didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning the race.

scare the pants off someone

Meaning: to frighten or to scare someone a lot

You scared the pants off me, I wasn’t expecting to see you in the garden.

I hope you won’t get scared off by our Halloween idioms and expressions. Happy Halloween and enjoy learning English!

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Improving Your English

Scary Halloween idioms: Haunting expressions for a spooky season

spooky english idioms

Don’t be afraid to explore this collection of Halloween idioms , where the English language takes a dark turn. The spine-chilling world of frightful expressions and eerie phrases perfectly captures the spirit of the season and much more!

If the thought of understanding idioms sends shivers down your spine, don’t worry, as we have included definitions and example sentences for each one.

So let’s get started and add a spooky touch to your everyday conversations as we explore the hair-raising realm of scary idioms!

Halloween idioms - two scary carved pumpkins

Halloween idioms

Skeleton in the/your closet.

Our list of Halloween idioms starts with a skeleton in the closet (or your closet ). This phrase refers to a hidden secret or embarrassing truth that someone wishes to keep hidden.

“Oh, you think he’s so innocent? Well, let me tell you, he has a few skeletons in his closet.”

Just like a spooky skeleton tucked away in a closet, this expression signifies a secret or a dark aspect of someone’s past or personality.


A Jack-o’-lantern is an iconic symbol of Halloween, believed to ward off evil spirits and light the way for lost souls. It is a hollowed-out pumpkin with a carved face, typically illuminated by a candle inside.

“We spent the evening carving scary faces on pumpkins, creating our very own Jack-o’-lanterns for the back garden.”

Pumpkin head

Pumpkins and Halloween idioms go hand-in-hand, mainly due to the tradition of carving Jack’o’lanterns. But to call someone a pumpkin head or describe them as pumpkin-headed is to say they lack intelligence or common sense.

“You forgot your keys again? Sometimes I wonder if you’re pumpkin-headed.” “Stop being such a pumpkin head!”

This Halloween idiom can also be written as one word: pumpkinhead.

In the dead of night

When something is said to have happened in the dead of night , it’s an event or action that occurred during the darkest and quietest part of the night; a time when it’s most silent and eerie and nobody else is around.

“She heard strange noises in the dead of night.”

There are many other idioms about night that might be helpful when telling scary stories at Halloween.

Witching hour

There is a time of night, usually midnight, when supernatural events are believed to occur. We call this the witching hour. It’s associated with mysterious happenings, magic, and witchcraft, often mentioned in folklore and tales.

“Be careful when you wander outside during the witching hour on Halloween. Who knows what you might encounter in the darkness!”

You may also hear parents use this phrase to describe a period of the day, usually right before bedtime, when their babies or children are particularly fussy or difficult to manage.

A ghost town is the perfect setting for Halloween idioms! It’s a place that is deserted or lacking activity and people, similar to the abandoned towns often portrayed in horror movies.

“Ever since the factory closed down, this neighborhood has become a ghost town.”

Bats in the belfry

Bats lend themselves well to scary idioms because of their association vampires. However, when we say that someone has bats in the belfry , it means they are eccentric or unusual.

“Don’t mind Aunt Margaret; she’s got bats in the belfry!”

Need more animal idioms ? No problem!

Graveyard shift

People who work late at night, typically during the hours when most people sleep, work the graveyard shift . Just as graveyard workers tend to their duties during the night, this idiom signifies working during unconventional hours.

“I’m exhausted from pulling the graveyard shift at the hospital.”

Trick or treat

This famous one-liner is used by children to request candy on Halloween night. It encapsulates the tradition of children going door-to-door, offering a playful threat of mischief if they don’t receive treats.

“Trick or treat! Give us a treat or prepare for some spooky tricks!”

Trick or treat is said every October 31st, but where does the tradition come from ?

Web of lies/deceit

How do you feel about spiders? A lot of people have a real fear of them, which is why they are on our list of scary idioms!

We are not just talking about a literal web spun by spiders here, though. Used idiomatically, a web of lies or deceit is a complex and intricate tangle of misdirection and falsehoods.

“Be cautious of his web of lies.” “I’m not sure about this business deal. It seems like a web of deceit if you ask me.”

It’s easy for people to become trapped in this kind of situation, including the person who began the lies in the first place.

Idioms about halloween - a collection of halloween candies

Scary idioms

People often associate mystical events, supernatural occurrences, and strange behavior with a full moon .

The phase of the lunar cycle where the moon is fully visible has long been linked to werewolves and other mythical creatures in folklore, adding an element of mystery and danger.

“All the customers have been a nightmare tonight! I guess it’s to be expected on a full moon.”

Cauldron of ideas

Some of these scary idioms are connected to witches, like a cauldron of ideas . A cauldron is what a witch uses to make spells and mix potions. You can use this as a business idiom to refer to a gathering of diverse and creative thoughts or concepts.

“Our brainstorming session was a cauldron of ideas.”

A black cat crossing your path

Black cats have always been considered a superstitious sign of bad luck. In folklore, black cats are often associated with witches and bad omens, so the idea of a black cat crossing your path suggests an impending streak of misfortune.

“Oh no! A black cat crossed my path just before the interview so I’m feeling extra nervous now!”

Haunted by the/your past

Normally it’s ghosts that haunt people, but sometimes you can be haunted by your past . This is when you are constantly tormented or troubled by past events. It could be a memory or a consequence of past actions that continues to worry, bother, or affect you.

“He can’t move on; he’s haunted by the past of his recent break up.”

Find some more idioms about the past here.


For most children, candy (or sweets in British English) is the main attraction on Halloween as they go door-to-door collecting treats.

When we describe something as candy-coated , it draws a parallel between the sugary coating of candies and the deceptive nature of something that may seem harmless but isn’t.

“Don’t be fooled by his candy-coated words. He may seem sweet, but there’s something sinister lurking beneath that smile.”

We use this expression to describe something that appears pleasant or attractive on the surface but may have negative or unpleasant aspects within.


A scaredy-cat is someone who is easily frightened, timid, or lacks courage.

“Come on, don’t be a scaredy-cat. Let’s go on the biggest rollercoster together.”

You may have noticed there are a few cat-related idioms on this list, and we have a separate article that lists even more!

Jump out of your skin

Although these scary idioms may not have you jumping out of your skin , an unexpected event may do so (figuratively speaking, of course!)

It simply means you were extremely startled or surprised. You had such an intense reaction you felt as if your body was physically leaping out of your skin.

“The sudden loud crash made me jump out of my skin!”

Heart-stopping moment

Here’s another scared idiom that exaggerates how you felt after an intense or terrifying experience. This time you were so shocked that you had a heart-stopping moment which actually can, ironically, cause your heart to race.

“When the masked figure jumped out from behind the door, it was a heart-stopping moment.”

Find some more idioms with heart here, for more expressive ways to describe your feelings.

Send shivers down your spine

When something sends shivers down your spine (your backbone) you get a strong feeling of fear or unease. You might even literally feel a sensation of chills running along your spine due to a particularly creepy or alarming experience.

“The eerie sound of footsteps upstairs sent shivers down my spine.”

We hope you enjoyed delving into the creepy realm of Halloween idioms, whether you’re planning a ghostly gathering, crafting a ghoulish tale, or simply embracing the Halloween spirit.

Did we miss any bone-chilling idioms that you love? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your favorite scary Halloween sayings. Happy haunting, and may your Halloween be filled with frightful fun!

Do you want to be more confident using English? Why not try  Grammarly's free proofreading tool . It checks as you write and helps you correct and improve your spelling and grammar.

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15 Halloween Idioms You Should Teach Your English Students

spooky english idioms

  • October 24, 2022

Ellier Leng

  • Teaching Topics

Halloween is just around the corner! It’s a major celebration on October 31st that many countries around the world partake in. Halloween traditions vary from dressing up in costumes to trick-or-treating to honoring the dead and many more. Did you know English has various idioms related to Halloween themes? Teach your English students these 15 Halloween idioms for some spooky fun! 

1) Blind as a bat.

No alt text provided for this image

Meaning: Having terrible eyesight. 

Example: What does that say? I’m blind as a bat without my glasses. 

2) Come back to haunt [someone].

Meaning: A decision that eventually causes problems to the person who made the decision.

Example: Forgetting to brush my teeth when I was younger was an error that came back to haunt me in old age.

3) Devil’s advocate.

Meaning: A person who presents the opposite side to stir up further discussion.

Example: I agree with you, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate so we can consider all the options. 

4) Digging one’s own grave. 

No alt text provided for this image

Meaning: To do something that causes you harm. 

Example: You dug your own grave when you made a joke about our manager in front of everyone. 

5) Drop dead gorgeous.

Meaning: Extremely beautiful or attractive. 

Example: That girl is drop dead gorgeous. I want to ask her out on a date. 

6) Ghost town.

Meaning: A deserted town with few or no inhabitants. 

Example: This city’s like a ghost town on the weekends.

7) Graveyard shift. 

Meaning: A shift that runs throughout the night, usually from midnight to 8am. 

Example: I sleep all morning and afternoon because I work the graveyard shift. 

8) Make [someone]’s blood boil. 

Meaning: Making someone very angry. 

Example: The injustice of that trial makes my blood boil. 

9) Night owl. 

No alt text provided for this image

Meaning: Someone who is usually awake and active at night. 

Example: He is such a night owl, but I like to sleep by 11pm. 

10) Over my dead body. 

Meaning: Used to say you’ll do whatever it takes to prevent something from happening. 

Example: You want to marry him? Over my dead body! 

11) Scared stiff.

Meaning: Absolutely terrified. 

Example: I was scared stiff when I saw a shadow come up from behind me. 

12) Scaredy cat. 

No alt text provided for this image

Meaning: Someone who is easily scared.

Example: Don’t be such a scaredy cat. That’s just a Halloween decoration.

13) Skeletons in one’s closet.

Meaning: Keeping a shameful secret that could ruin a person’s reputation. 

Example: Most couples have a skeleton in the closet.

14) Smell a rat. 

No alt text provided for this image

Meaning: To suspect a trick or deception. 

Example: Something’s not right. I smell a rat. 

15) Witching hour. 

Meaning: Midnight; the time that witches are believed to be most powerful.

Example: My parents arrived home right before witching hour. 

We hope you’ll enjoy teaching these Halloween idioms to your English students! Know of any other Halloween idioms? Share them in the comments below. 

(Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter about how Halloween is celebrated in different parts of the world!)

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Ellier Leng

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  • Oct 31, 2021

Seven Spooky Idioms

Spooky season is officially here! This weekend in the UK we are busy carving pumpkins, creating costumes, and choosing the best scary movies to watch 🎃👻👀

So now is a great time to learn our top 7 halloween-related idioms and give your English vocabulary a boost. (Don't worry though, you can use these phrases any time of year!) Read on to find out more...

spooky english idioms

1. Drop dead gorgeous

If you describe someone as drop-dead gorgeous, you mean that they are so beautiful that everyone will notice them.

I think Naomi Campbell is a drop dead gorgeous model!

spooky english idioms

2. Skeleton in the closet

This refers to an embarrassing or shameful secret that a person wants to keep hidden.

Most families have one or two skeletons in the closet .

4. Dig your own grave

When you do something that could cause you harm, we say you are digging your own grave.

She dug her own grave when she made fun of the boss.

spooky english idioms

3. Like a bat out of hell

This idiom describes moving extremely fast or wildly, often when you're running away from something.

He drove away from the crime scene like a bat out of hell .

5. Stab someone in the back

If you say that someone has stabbed you in the back, you mean that they have done something to hurt or betray you, when you thought that you could trust them.

A lot of people in this business think they have to stab each other in the back to succeed.

spooky english idioms

7. Ghost town

A ghost town is a town or city that used to be busy in the past, but has now been abandoned. Few or no people live there any more.

Many of the old mining communities are ghost towns now.

6. Over my dead body

You can use this phrase when you want to say you will do everything you can to stop something from happening.

My daughter will ride a motorbike over my dead body !

We hope you enjoyed learning these 'spooktacular' idioms! Which ones will you try to use next in your own speaking and writing? Let us know in the comments.

And if you're ready to take your English to the next level, check out our online evening classes - only £20 per week!

Happy Halloween from all of us here at Brighter English 👋🏼

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Halloween Idioms: Spooky, Creepy & Dark Expressions

If you want to learn some Halloween idioms, words, and phrases, then you’re in the right place. We have all the spooky, scary, creepy, dark, and weird idioms for Halloween that you could ever want. Keep on reading or check out this video for a preview:

Halloween Idioms and Phrases

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Let’s get into the best Halloween words and phrases to know.

Skeleton in the Closet

The first Halloween idiom is skeleton in the closet. This means an embarrassing secret. so If you’re a politician or a famous person, you don’t want your skeletons in the closet to come out because it could create a lot of embarrassment for you.

My second idiom related to Halloween is ghost town. A ghost town is somewhere where there are no people. You might be driving and then you drive through a town and you see stores and buildings but there are no people. That is a ghost town.

Halloween phrases and words

Halloween phrases and words

Next up for Halloween expressions is night owl. A night owl is someone who loves to stay up very late at night. I might say, my friend, Jill is a night owl. She never goes to bed before 3am.

Scaredy Cat

The next Halloween idiom is scaredy cat. My cat Lucy is scared of everything. She’s scared of people, and she’s scared of loud noises so I would say she is a scaredy cat. But that also can describe a person who is scared of many, many things.

Halloween Jokes, Questions, Trivia & Fun Facts for Kids: Hundreds of Creepy and Spooky Things to...

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/18/2023 (Publication Date)

Graveyard Shift

My fifth Halloween idiom is graveyard shift. This is someone who works at night. So I can say, my dad worked the graveyard shift when I was growing up. That means you start work at 10 or 11 at night and then you maybe finish work at seven or eight in the morning.

Spooky Basket

Spooky basket meaning? A lot of people have this question. We’ll explain.

A spooky basket is similar to an Easter basket, but it’s Halloween-themed. You can fill it with creepy idioms and sayings, Halloween candy, and other spooky things. Have a look on Pinterest for some great ideas.

Creepy Idiom: Grave Mistake

A grave mistake means a very large mistake that can have very serious consequences. For example, a doctor might make a grave mistake during a surgery and the results is that someone ends up dying .

It may be the last straw before something really bad happens.

Spill Your Guts

Spill your guts means to tell someone everything. For example, if someone has a new boyfriend or girlfriend, his or her friends could say, “Spill your guts!” This means that the friends want to hear everything about this new person.

Another situation is at work. If there’s some gossip about a coworker, someone might say, “Spill your guts.” They want to hear the gossip too.

Halloween idioms

Good idioms for Halloween

If your blood is boiling, you are very, very angry ! Perhaps you have someone at work who makes your blood boil. Or, one of your children knows exactly how to push your buttons and makes your blood boil.

Scared Stiff Halloween Idiom

You could say that someone is stiff if they’re kind of uptight. However, it can also refer to someone who is dead or can’t move because your body stiffens up. If you’re scared stiff, you are so scared that you feel like you wanted to die.

For example, you saw a huge spider and couldn’t move. You wanted to die because you were so scared.

More Idioms, Phrases and Words

1001 English Expressions and Phrases: Common Sentences and Dialogues Used by Native English Speakers...

  • 139 Pages - 11/19/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published...

If you want to learn more English expressions and phrases, besides just ones from Halloween, then you’ll want to check out this book: 1001 English Expressions and Phrases . Level up your English with some must-know expressions and phrases.

Speak English better! Pick up the book today:


Halloween Idioms FAQs

There are a number of common questions that people have. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

What does “skeletons in the closet” mean?

Skeleton in the closet refers to someone’s hidden secrets or embarrassing past that they don’t want others to know about.

What does “ghost town” mean?

Ghost town describes a place that is deserted or has very few people, usually due to a lack of activity or business.

What does “witching hour” mean?

Witching hour refers to the time, usually midnight, when supernatural events are believed to occur or when witches are believed to be most active.

What does “scaredy-cat” mean?

Scaredy-cat is a term used to describe someone who is easily frightened or afraid of taking risks.

What does “trick or treat” mean?

Trick or treat is a popular Halloween tradition where children dress up in costumes and go from house to house, asking for candy by saying “trick or treat.” It implies that if a treat (candy) is given, no prank or trick will be played.

Halloween Phrases and Words: Join the Conversation

Do you have any dark idioms or spooky Halloween expressions that you want to share? Leave a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

spooky english idioms

About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 100 books for English teachers and English learners, including 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults and 1001 English Expressions and Phrases . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

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spooky english idioms

Thinking in English

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Podcast and Blog for English Learners!

‘Ghost towns,’ ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous,’ and ‘Graveyard Shift’: Idioms and Phrases for a Spooky Halloween (English Vocabulary Lesson)

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By Tom Wilkinson

spooky english idioms

On today’s episode of Thinking in English, let’s learn some spooky idioms and phrases that you can use everyday, not just on Halloween!

You may also like…

14. What is Halloween?

How to Describe Pain in English!! Essential Vocabulary and Phrases (English Vocabulary Lesson)Language Learners Have Accents and Should We Care? (English Lesson)

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Tongue Twister Challenge!: English Pronunciation Practice 

(If you can’t see the podcast player CLICK HERE to listen!!)

On Sunday the 31st of October, people around the world will begin to celebrate Halloween in a variety of different ways. In my country, some may dress up in scary costumes, children may trick-or-treat around their neighbourhoods, pumpkins carved in spooky shapes, and millions will watch Hollywood horror movies. In other parts of the world, celebrations are much more diverse! I recorded an episode last year on Halloween – it was one of my first ever episodes so don’t expect it to be the best episode ever – but I’ll link it here anyway !

As you probably already know, Halloween is a holiday associated with all manner of scary, spooky, and terrifying things: monsters, ghosts, death, blood, graveyards, and more! So let’s learn some idioms and phrases that follow these themes. And luckily for you, all of these phrases and idioms can be used in everyday situations, not just on Halloween! Without any further ado, it’s time to introduce today’s new vocabulary… I hope they don’t scare you!


Do you have any skeletons in your closet ? Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean having bones where you keep your clothes. Skeletons in your closet is an idiom that means an embarrassing fact or thing that you want to keep a secret. You usually don’t tell anyone about the skeletons in your closet : Often it is something from the past that you are ashamed or embarrassed by! If it was revealed, perhaps it would have a negative affect on your personal, social, or even professional life. 

“The politician resigned before someone discovered the skeletons in his closet”


When was the last time your blood ran cold ? If a sound, sight, or thought makes your blood run cold, it frightens you very much! You are so frightened that you can feel it all over your body. Similar idioms include make your skin crawl and make your flesh creep. All of these are excellent idioms to describe when you read a frightening news story, or think about an unnerving situation.

“The screams coming from the old, dark house made my blood run cold”

Have you ever been somewhere that seems like a ghost town ? You may think that a ghost town is a town populated by ghosts, but that is not how we use the phrase in English. A ghost town is a deserted place where there are few or no people. A place could be a permanent or actual ghost town , such as an old mining town where everyone left after the mine closed or a town that was never completely finished and the buildings left unsold. Or, a place could be a ghost town only at certain times, often late at night or early in the morning! In this case, we use the phrase like a ghost town .

“My bus arrived in the town at 4am: it felt like a ghost town and I didn’t see anyone!”


Bats and hell are both common themes found around Halloween. However, the idiom like a bat out of hell is used to describe something very quick and fast, very abrupt, and very sudden. It is often used to describe someone’s speed while going somewhere. The phrase apparently comes from an Air Force expression during World War I. It is very similar to the idiom like a shot used to describe speed!

“She ran down the street like a bat out of hell!”


Are you a scaredy cat ? If so, you are someone who is very easily scared. Scaredy cat is often used to describe children who are too fearful to do something. Someone who is a scaredy cat is scared of things that most people would not be afraid of! You should also know that the phrase fraidy cat can also be used to mean the same thing. 

“Don’t be such a scaredy cat…. Flying on a plane is safer than driving”


If you are a bit of a scaredy cat, you’ve probably been scared stiff before. In fact, I think most people will be scared stiff at least once in their lifetime. If you are scared stiff, you are very afraid, to the point where you are no longer able to move! The adjective stiff suggests that it is hard to move, or it could refer to a ‘stiff’ dead body. Whatever its origins, the phrase scared stiff is very common!

“I was scared stiff before making my acting debut”


Do you know anyone who is drop dead gorgeous ? If so, they are very, very attractive. English has many phrases that use the word ‘dead’ ironically or as an idiom: drop dead gorgeous is one the most common of these phrases. In this case drop dead is used as an intensifier (just like very or really) to express surprise or amazement about how attractive and gorgeous a person is!

“The actress looked drop dead gorgeous at the movie premier”


Have you ever dug your own grave ? If you dig your own grave, you create serious problems for yourself by doing something foolish. It is something that will cause you harm, and probably was easy to see or predict would happen. You could dig your own grave by not doing something – like not handing in a university assignment – or you could dig your own grave by doing something wrong or unwise – like staying out drinking all night. Both of these have many potential consequences!

“I’m afraid I’m digging my own grave by turning down that work assignment”


Have you ever worked the graveyard shift ? Don’t be afraid – it has nothing to do with actual graveyards. The graveyard shift is a work shift that happens overnight, especially after midnight and before 6am. If you have worked a graveyard shift before, you probably know that while it is difficult, usually it is a little more calm than morning or evening shifts!

“The supermarket pays 15% extra wages to employees who do graveyard shifts”


The phrase over my dead body is used to express that you strongly oppose something or won’t allow it to happen. If you will only allow something to happen over your dead body it means that you would never allow that thing to happen. The only way that thing could happen is if you were dead, and then you couldn’t stop it. A common and funny response to the phrase over my dead body is to say “that can be arranged.”

“I asked my mum if I could get a tattoo… she said ‘over my dead body’”  

Check out my recent podcast episodes!

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265. What is Overtourism? (English Vocabulary Lesson) – Thinking in English

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  • 264. Why is the UK Banning Some Breeds of Dog?: The Dangerous Dog Debate! (English Vocabulary Lesson) 21:31
  • 263. The Foreign Language Effect: How Thinking in English Can Improve Your Decision Making and Memories! (English Vocabulary Lesson) 25:59
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Svetlana Kandybovich

  • 17 Oct 2021
  • games , lesson plans and activities , tech tools

“Halloween is in the air, the moon is full, beware beware!”

Halloween is most definitely in the air.

I got quite a lot of positive feedback on my recent Music Idioms Gallery Walk so I decided to explore a bit further using VR or 360 degree images and music to teach vocabulary.

Halloween idioms seemed like an ideal topic. I had to plan something new for this year anyway in addition to the * To-Halloween-or-not-to-Halloween-that-is-the-Question debate class.

So the topic was clear, and I just needed to think of a spooky storyline and make it as learning intensive as possible (#how_to_celebrate_the_season_without_sacrificing_the_learning ).

Creating a spooky storyline

Initially it seemed pretty easy.

Darkness, dust, cobwebs and creaking floors. Secrets, spirits, strange noises and occasional slamming doors.

Well, it was not.

Overall, this season does not really hold up well for an adult who is a scaredy-cat with a rich imagination. After the third Halloween-esque piano piece on www.freesound.org ( check this great resource if you need to find some free sounds for your classroom activities ), I decided to stick to fun instead of scary, and use some funny looking characters:

spooky english idioms

To complete the Adventure, learners should click on the characters and read about the meanings and origin /etymology of the following 11 Halloween idioms and idiomatic expressions:

A ghost town

A scaredy-cat

A haunted house

A night owl

Scared stiff

To give somebody the heebie-jeebies

A skeleton in the closet

A skeleton staff

To come back to haunt you

As blind as a bat

To whistle past the graveyard

After they have explored all the places in the Adventure, learners will need to complete a Self-Check exercise. Just as in the Music Idioms Gallery Walk , the task is to look through the list of idioms and click on the ones they can remember. The Self-Check may be used for such pair/group work activities as:

  • Make a sentence with each idiom that is true about you or someone you know;
  • Read out your sentences in a whisper voice;
  • Charades or Word Taboo (have others guess the idiom);
  • Play Curios Cat, or make a short story with the idioms. Try to use as many idioms from the list as possible.

The Adventure may be played through all platforms/devices, including phones, or offline.

You can access it either directly here (Google Storage), or

Via My English Domain (Learning Resources section) – click on the image below:

halloween idioms

If you have any comments or suggestions about the Adventure, please leave a comment!

If you are looking for some fresh ideas and Halloween activities, check out these resources:

Games: Trick or Treat (including the ppt game template and ppt question templates) from Tekhnologic

Music: 10 Halloween songs from On the Same Page ELT

Exam practice: Halloween Themed B2 Speaking from JoannaESL

Films: Suckablood from All.at.C

Debate/Reading: Should we celebrate Halloween – www. debate.org

History/Halloween themed quiz from EFL Summer School

24 hours before posting the Halloween Idioms Adventure

I finally finished up my new Halloween Idioms Adventure last night and planned to post it first thing in the morning.

8 am – Up up! It’s time for coffee.

8.30 am – My domain website is down; my ELTcation subdomain is also down. Good that it’s not Facebook, no global chaos caused.

9.15 am – Chat with the technical support. ELTcation is back to life. BOO!

10 pm – Myenglishdomain is still down.

12 pm – Chat with the technical support. They’re trying to get it fixed. Pray, hope, and don’t worry.

6 pm – Some strange noise from the balcony door jamb. Something got stuck there. LEGS! No idea what this is. Do they have tarantulas here?

6.01 pm – Panic.

6.05 pm – I can’t just close the door to the room and wait for the beast to leave. Face your fears, Lana. Go there and fight.

6.10 pm – Or call your friends.

6.30 pm – So good to have friends! Just a silly grasshopper, but HUGE!

8 pm – The website is up and running.

10.13 pm – An earthquake.

Will post the Halloween Adventure first thing tomorrow.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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[…] HALLOWEEN IDIOMS – ELT-CATION. “Halloween is in the air, the moon is full, beware beware!” Halloween is most definitely in the air. I got quite a lot of positive feedback on my recent Music Idioms Gallery Walk so I decided to explore a bit further using VR or 360 degree images and music to teach vocabulary. Halloween idioms seemed like an ideal topic. I had to plan something new for this year anyway in addition to the *To-Halloween-or-not-to-Halloween-that-is-the-Question debate class. So the topic was clear, and I just needed to think of a spooky storyline and make it as learning intensive as possible (#how_to_celebrate_the_season_without_sacrificing_the_learning). […]

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  1. What Is It That You Can Keep After Giving It to Someone Else?

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  4. 14 Halloween Idioms & Expressions

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  5. Top 10 Halloween idioms and expressions

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  6. 10 Creepy English Idioms to Use This Hallowe'en!

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  7. Spooky Halloween Idioms and Expressions -English with Harry

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  8. Halloween Idioms

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  9. 20 Scary Halloween idioms with frighteningly good examples

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  10. 15 Halloween Idioms You Should Teach Your English Students

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  11. Seven Spooky Idioms

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    ... Halloween idioms and idiomatic expressions: A ghost town. A ... Via My English Domain (Learning Resources section) – click on the image below:.