spooky etymology halloweenWhat better way to celebrate Halloween than with a little spooky word etymology!

Boo

A dig back in time to mid-19th century Scotland reveals that this word originated to startle crying children (perhaps to make them stop?) and soon was adopted by those pretending to be ghosts.

Ghost

Rooted in Old English, this word originally meant ‘the soul as the seat of life.’ Authors in the 11th century began to use it as we do today, to refer to the soul of a dead person who wanders among and haunts the living.

Jack o’ Lantern

Carving pumpkins to create the classic jack o’ lantern face is believed to have originated with the Celtic culture, which celebrated summer’s end and the last harvest on October 31st. Children carved gourds and placed a burning lump of coal inside to welcome loved ones who had died in the past year and to protect against mischievous spirits.

Goblin

Monstrous creatures from European folk tales of the Middle Ages, goblins are generally depicted as meddlesome troublemakers. In these stories, they’re mischievous or downright mean, and usually target and terrorize children.

Trick or Treat

Various stories about the origins of trick-or-treating abound. The popularity of the activity in the U.S. is traced to native traditions of Scottish and Irish immigrants. Young people, dressed in costumes, went door to door in their villages and accepted offerings to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. The tradition evolved to one in which children would perform a trick—tell a joke or sing a song—in return for treats such as fruit, nuts or coins.