VIDEO FOR HALLOWEEN
WATCH NOW: What Word Did Your State Look Up Last Halloween?
We analyzed our search data at Dictionary.com for Halloween. What word did your state look up last year?
CAN YOU GUESS THESE WORDS FROM AROUND THE US?
Words nearby Halloween
What is Halloween?
Halloween is a holiday on October 31 that’s essentially a celebration of spooky and scary stuff, like ghosts, witches, monsters, and haunted houses.
It’s traditionally celebrated by dressing in costumes, decorating with things like jack-o’-lanterns (carved pumpkins) and fake spiderwebs, and trick or treating—going door to door to collect candy or other treats from people who are giving it out. The trick part of trick or treat is a reference to the pranks that kids sometimes play on Halloween.
Halloween is especially celebrated by children, but teens and adults commonly celebrate it, too, such as by having parties (often costume parties), watching scary movies, giving out candy to kids, eating some of that candy, and then eating some of the candy that kids bring home.
Halloween is a secular (nonreligious) holiday, but its name has roots in the Christian holiday Allhallows, better known as All Saints’ Day. Another name for Halloween is Allhallows Eve (the night before Allhallows).
Halloween is commonly used as a modifier in phrases like Halloween costume, Halloween party, Halloween candy, and Halloween night.
Example: Don’t give me this trunk or treat stuff—I want a classic Halloween, with trick or treating and haunted houses and my neighbor disguising himself as a stuffed scarecrow so he can pop up and scare kids when they try to take more than one piece of candy from the bowl.
Where does Halloween come from?
The first records of the word Halloween come from around the 1550s—right around the same time as Allhallows Eve. Halloween is sometimes spelled Hallowe’en, reflecting the fact that its name comes from a shortening of Allhallows Even, in which even means the same thing as eve—the evening or day before a holiday (as in Christmas Eve). The word hallow is used in reference to the saints honored on All Saints’ Day (hallowed means “holy”).
Many of the traditions associated with Halloween are thought to originate in Samhain, a holiday celebrated by the ancient Celtic inhabitants of the British Isles. Samhain was celebrated during harvest time, on or around November 1, which was the first day of the Celts’ year. It was a time of year when it was believed that the threshold of the spirit world was opened for spirits to pass through and haunt the living. People marked the occasion by wearing costumes and lighting bonfires for protection. Under Christianity, some of these traditions were incorporated into All Saints’ Day. Many of these customs were brought by immigrants to the U.S., where Halloween has been influenced by and has incorporated elements from several cultures to become what it is today.
Halloween is often seen as a way to have fun with the macabre—scary things or things related to death, somewhat similar to traditions observed during Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) in Mexico and other countries. However, most people just see it as a time to dress up, eat candy, and have fun with spooky stuff. Classic Halloween costumes include ghosts, skeletons, witches, monsters, mummies, vampires, zombies, werewolves, and other scary things, but people dress up in all kinds of costumes, especially characters from pop culture.
In many places in the U.S., the night before Halloween is unofficially known as mischief night, on which kids play pranks and cause other mischief, such as egging or toilet papering houses.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to Halloween?
- Hallowe’en (alternate spelling)
What are some synonyms for Halloween?
What are some words that share a root or word element with Halloween?
What are some words that often get used in discussing Halloween?
How is Halloween used in real life?
Halloween is associated with fun stuff like wearing costumes, trick-or-treating, and eating candy.
I remember one Halloween where instead of getting candy, this old lady had us grab a SPOONFUL of PENNIES. No candy… just… pennies 😒
— Jackie Hill Perry (@JackieHillPerry) October 31, 2014
Best Halloween I’ve ever had. Special thank you to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. pic.twitter.com/pI23QGIeaz
— Cj Prosise (@Prosisely_22) November 3, 2017
2020 will be the year i finally plan my halloween costume ahead of time
— dylan bauld (@dylanwilliam23) December 31, 2019
Try using Halloween!
True or False?
The word Halloween is a shortening of Allhallows Even.
Example sentences from the Web for Halloween
He once experimented with dressing as “Hilda the Wicked Witch” as a way to expand his business to Halloween.Kerry Bentivolio: The Congressman Who Believes in Santa Claus|Ben Jacobs|December 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
One of the best parties was at Halloween when Atlantic Records had their party here.The Hot Designer Who Hates Fashion: VK Nagrani Triumphs His Own Way|Tom Teodorczuk|December 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
On Halloween Ed proved he has not been forgotten when he published a now-famous epistle in response to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal.Canada’s Subversive Sock Puppet: Ed the Sock Isn’t Afraid to Say Anything|Soraya Roberts|November 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Another aunt recalled something Laylah had said to her when they went trick-or-treating on Halloween just a few days before.11 Children Shot in Milwaukee, One in Her Grandpa's Lap|Michael Daly|November 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The two met on the Halloween II set, and later married and have three children.Meet the Hollywood Power Couple Who Bet Big on the Midterms—and Lost|Asawin Suebsaeng|November 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
At the magic words "Halloween frolic," Babette put Potato down at once.The Green Forest Fairy Book|Loretta Ellen Brady
"I'll bring a hose key Halloween night," went on John, ignoring the interruption.
"Might a' thought it was some Halloween gang if I didn't," he defended himself as he threw his hat on the nearest chair.
The Spirit of Halloween, shrilled the imp, who had stationed himself close to the screen.Marjorie Dean High School Senior|Pauline Lester
Just think, she said, I have never been to a Halloween party in my life.Maida's Little Shop|Inez Haynes Irwin