[ spook ]
/ spuk /


verb (used with object)

to haunt; inhabit or appear in or to as a ghost or specter.
Informal. to frighten; scare.

verb (used without object)

Informal. to become frightened or scared: The fish spooked at any disturbance in the pool.

Origin of spook

1795–1805, Americanism; < Dutch; cognate with German Spuk


spook·er·y, nounspook·ish, adjective

usage note for spook

When referring to a black person, the term spook dates back to the 1940s. It is used with disparaging intent and is perceived as highly insulting. Black pilots who trained at Tuskegee Institute during World War II were called the Spookwaffe. Some sources say that black pilots reclaimed this derogatory nickname as a self-referential term of pride.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for spook

  • "I am going to 'spook' too," said the boy, and rode off on his lean pony.

    Through Shot and Flame|J. D. Kestell.

British Dictionary definitions for spook

/ (spuːk) informal /


a ghost or a person suggestive of this
US and Canadian a spy
Southern African slang any pale or colourless alcoholic spiritspook and diesel

verb (tr) US and Canadian

to frightento spook horses; to spook a person
(of a ghost) to haunt

Derived forms of spook

spookish, adjective

Word Origin for spook

C19: Dutch spook, from Middle Low German spōk ghost
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012