[ spook ]
See synonyms for spook on Thesaurus.com
  1. Informal. a ghost; specter.

  2. Slang. a ghostwriter.

  1. Slang. an eccentric person.

  2. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a Black person.

  3. Slang. an espionage agent; spy.

verb (used with object)
  1. to haunt; inhabit or appear in or to as a ghost or specter.

  2. Informal. to frighten; scare.

verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to become frightened or scared: The fish spooked at any disturbance in the pool.

Origin of spook

An Americanism first recorded in 1795–1805; from Dutch; cognate with German Spuk

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.

Other words from spook

  • spook·er·y, noun
  • spookish, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use spook in a sentence

  • Jed looked quickly at Cal when he told him how the colonists had spooked, bolted in panic.

    Eight Keys to Eden | Mark Irvin Clifton
  • He spooked at imagined noises and thudding rain and the dry creaking of the old house as he toweled off and dressed.

  • More spooked, perhaps, more frightened—only the Cytha did not act like a frightened beast.

    The World That Couldn't Be | Clifford Donald Simak
  • Cam was momentarily spooked—and not "on account of the account," either.

    Telempathy | Vance Simonds

British Dictionary definitions for spook


/ (spuːk) informal /

  1. a ghost or a person suggestive of this

  2. US and Canadian a spy

  1. Southern African slang any pale or colourless alcoholic spirit: spook and diesel

verb(tr) US and Canadian
  1. to frighten: to spook horses; to spook a person

  2. (of a ghost) to haunt

Origin of spook

C19: Dutch spook, from Middle Low German spōk ghost

Derived forms of spook

  • spookish, adjective

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