spook, noun

Origin:
English, U.S. English, Dutch, South African English, South African Dutch, AfrikaansShow more Special senses of general English spook ghost, apparition, spectre, which originated in U.S. English (from Dutch) and is widely used also in South African English (reinforced by South African Dutch and Afrikaans spook).
1. figurative. Especially in political contexts: a scare-story; a spectre, a bogey; a fear. Also attributive. See also gogga sense 2 a.
1939 J.C. Smuts Plans for Better World (1942) 225General Hertzog..is resurrecting from the grave an old and very dead corpse — the so-called British jingo...I thought that he and Hoggenheimer and a number of other ‘spooks’ had disappeared...Let us drop this racial talk, this nonsense about ‘spooks’ and ‘goggas’.
1972 Sunday Times 21 May 16If this spook is to be the basis of political debate — ‘You hate me, therefore I now hate you’ — what is to become of South Africa?
1982 Rhodeo (Rhodes Univ.) 6 Apr. 11One of the things that frightened me the most was the security police. So I decided to take all the spooks out of the dark corners...All those right-wing things.
1982 S. Sepamla in Chapman & Dangor Voices from Within 127The myths attending your name have been spooks in the minds of many.
1985 H. Pienaar in Frontline Dec. 23The CP never had so many factors in their favour as in this round of by-elections. That they failed indicates in my view that the far-right spook will stay a spook for a long time yet.
2. Military. Usually pronounced /spʊək/. An armoured vehicle used to detect mines. See also buffel sense 2, spook verb sense 2.
1978 Sunday Times 2 Apr. 15Its own special mine detecting vehicle (‘die spook’) for use in the operational area.
3. In the intransitive verbal phrase to spook loop /- luəp/ [Afrikaans, loop walk], to creep unseen.
1979 National Serviceman, InformantWe had to spook loop round the outside of the whole camp without getting seen.
4. slang. A fright.
1986 Crux Aug. 43Well, these Israelites only catch a big spook — like they were all too chicken to take this ou on.
5. combinations
spookdorp /ˈspʊəkdɔrp/, /-dɔːp/ [Afrikaans, spook ghost + dorp town], a ghost town;
spookhuis /ˈspʊəkheɪs/ [Afrikaans, spook ghost + huis house], a haunted house.
1975 Het Suid-Western 4 JuneMossel Bay down yonder..really does seem to be getting nearer to the day when it will become a spookdorp.
1983 Pace Oct. 70More than 22 families have turned their backs on the house and prefer to linger on the long waiting list for houses — but not the ‘spook huis’. They say pots, beds, wardrobes and what-have-you fly around the house.
1987 J. Van der Merwe in Pretoria News 22 June 3A new complex on the site of the famous Erasmus ‘Spookhuis’ next to the Delmas highway.
1990 Frontline Mar.Apr. 12A haunted house? I think he’s joking. But no; he pinpoints the spookhuis, soberly, and says to be sure to be gone by dark.
Especially in political contexts: a scare-story; a spectre, a bogey; a fear. Also attributive.
An armoured vehicle used to detect mines.
, to creep unseen.
A fright.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary

Senses

19391990

Compounds