things that go bump in the night

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English[edit]

Noun[edit]

things that go bump in the night (plural only)

  1. (idiomatic) Frightening imagined creatures; ghosts or other supernatural beings.
    • 1940, "Life on the Newsfronts of the World," Life Magazine, 7 Oct., p. 32:
      Hellish new noises from new and secret British anti-aircraft devices vibrated last week through the din of London bombings. . . . [T]hey must have reminded Londoners of the old litany:
      From ghoulies and ghosties,
      Long leggety beasties
      And things that go bump in the night
      Good Lord, deliver us.
    • 1961, May Mackintosh, "If I Were a Witch," The Glasgow Herald, 27 Oct., p. 7:
      But most of all I recall the haunting magic of the lanterns and the whispered tales of ghosties, goblins, and things that go bump in the night with which we tried to frighten each other.