spooky [always supernatural?]

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aleaf

Senior Member
Japanese
1. The old mansion looked awfully spooky from the outside.
2. We watched the spooky movie to scare ourselves.

I made them up. Is the word "spooky" most of the time suggestive of "ghosts" or "witches" or some other supernatural being? Is it a type of "being scary"?
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    spooky is in our dictionary.

    If the definition you see there doesn't answer your question, please explain what still puzzles you. People will do their best to help. :)
     

    aleaf

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you very much, Cagey.
    The dictionary cites "eerie" or "scary" in definition 2, but in my limited experience, "spooky" has mostly been used in sort of gohstly or witchy situations. So I started this thread to find out if native speakers usually used it that way [a narrowed-down sense of "scary"].
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In my experience, 'spooky' suggests that ghosts or witches or some other supernatural beings are present.

    It also suggests that the dangers are unseen. I believe that if we were looking at a crowd of witches and ghosts, we would call them 'scary' rather than 'spooky', as long as we thought they were all in sight.

    I don't think we would call a place 'spooky' if it is full of unseen real dangers such as poisonous snakes or spiders -- as long as were were thinking of the natural creatures.

    I would be interested in what other people think.
     
    Last edited:

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I agree with Cagey.

    This is just in slang, but sometimes "spooky" to me means "suspicious". Probably not a correct usage, but I hear it used this way once in a spooky moon.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It isn't a word I use but I think that, more often than not, the speaker is enjoying the excitement of being mildly scared.

    If someone is really terrified I think they might use a different word.
     

    Rhye

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Like Cagey, I think an important distinction is that spooky generally indicates something unseen—or inexplicably ominous—while "scary" is much more vague.

    However, this word has sort of gotten intertwined with the holiday of Halloween, so I think it has lost most of whatever "seriousness" it may have once held (assuming it did once hold some, I'm not sure). I will generally only use the word when I'm trying to be blatantly facetious or otherwise ridiculous—and it's usually accompanied with a strange voice/accent too.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "spooky" applies to a scene, a location (in a hounted house), a situation, an event...but it is always creating a spefici kind of emotion in the observor. that is what makes it "spooky" - how they feel. One can say "this X is spooky" or "this feels spooky". Similar emotional words are "creepy", "eerie".

    "spooky" is less strong a word than "scary". it always means "uncomfortable" but not always "frightened". Yes, if the movie is spooky now, it will probably get scary later. But not always (old Abbott and Costello movies never got scary, although THEY got plenty scared meeting mummies and wolfmen).

    "spooky" often refers to ghosts, magic, supernatural, exactly as you say.
     
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