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15 Halloween Idioms You Should Teach Your English Students

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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!)

Ellier Leng
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