Borrowed from Dutch spook (“ghost”), from Middle Dutch spooc (“spook, ghost”). Cognate with Middle Low German spôk, spûk (“apparition, ghost”), Middle High German gespük (“a haunting”), German Spuk, Danish spøge (“to haunt”), Swedish spöke (“ghost”). Doublet of puck.
spook (plural spooks)
- (informal) A ghost or phantom.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:ghost
- The building was haunted by a couple of spooks.
- 1925 July – 1926 May, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “(please specify the chapter number)”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, published April 2019:
- "I'll say what I think, no more and no less, and I won't be scared by you or your spooks into altering my opinions."
- A hobgoblin.
- (informal) A scare or fright.
- The big spider gave me a spook.
- (espionage, slang) An undercover agent or spy.
- 2009 July 24, “Spies like them”, in BBC News Magazine:
- From Ian Fleming to John Le Carre - authors have long been fascinated by the world of espionage. But, asks the BBC’s Gordon Corera, what do real life spooks make of fictional spies?
- 2012 October 13, “Huawei and ZTE: Put on hold”, in The Economist:
- The congressional study frets that Huawei’s and ZTE’s products could be used as Trojan horses by Chinese spooks.
- (slang, dated, offensive, ethnic slur) A black person.
- (philosophy) A metaphysical manifestation; an artificial distinction or construct.
- 1845, Max Stirner, translated by Steven T. Byington, Der Einzige und sein Eigentum; republished as The Ego and His Own, Dover, 2005:
- He who is infatuated with Man leaves persons out of account so far as that infatuation extends, and floats in an ideal, sacred interest. Man, you see, is not a person, but an ideal, a spook.
- (US, slang, medicine) A psychiatrist.
- 1975, Robert O. Pasnau, Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, page 124:
- Commonly, the surgeons view nonsurgeons with disdain. The most disdain is directed toward the “shrinks” or the “spooks,” as the psychiatrists are called.
- (blackjack, slang) A player who engages in hole carding by attempting to glimpse the dealer's hole card when the dealer checks under an ace or a 10 to see if a blackjack is present.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- (transitive) To frighten or make nervous (especially by startling).
- The hunters were spooked when the black cat crossed their path. The movement in the bushes spooked the deer and they ran.
- 2022 August 10, “Stop & Examine”, in RAIL, number 963, page 71:
- As that was happening, an East Midlands train came through at 90mph. George [a Labrador] was spooked as the train went past him and ran backwards across the neighbouring slow lines and off towards the sidings.
- (intransitive) To become frightened (by something startling).
- The deer spooked at the sound of the dogs.
- (transitive) To haunt.
From Middle Dutch spoke, spooc, from spoke, spoocke, spoicke (“wizardry, witchcraft”), from Proto-Germanic *spōk. Further etymology unclear. Cognate with Middle Low German spôk, Low German spôk, Middle High German Spuch, and German Spuk.
- phantom, ghost
- Geloof je in spoken? ― Do you believe in ghosts?
- spectre, horror, terror
- het spook van de oorlog ― the horror of war
- an imaginary horror, conceptual nightmare
- an annoying and intolerable woman
- Afrikaans: spook
- Negerhollands: spook
- → English: spook
- → Papiamentu: spoki, spooki
See the etymology of the corresponding lemma form.
- Alternative form of