While Halloween, or All Saint’s Eve, is most popular in America, countries around the world are now beginning to adopt this holiday too.
If you are planning to attend, or even host a Halloween party, you should make sure you know the most common words related to this holiday. Halloween words borrow from many different languages. Today, these words are used in countries all around the world.
Do you know where some of these words come from?
Let’s take a look at the most common ones:
Halloween is a condensed form of the phrase All Hallow Even, i.e. All Saints’ Eve. Hallow means “holy”, so Halloween is the Eve of All Hallows, i.e. all saints. Hallow and Halloween derive from the Old English adjective halig (holy).
Pumpkin derives from the Greek pepon, a kind of melon eaten only when very ripe. The word root is very interesting: Latin took over pepon as pepo, then French produced popon/pompon, then pumpion, and finally pumpkin.
There is no witch in town that would make a Halloween appearance without a broom. The word derives from a Germanic plant name that appears as bramo, bramma and bramio in various Germanic languages. So a broom essentially bears the Germanic name of the twig plant.
This word appears in various languages. In Greek it’s kophinus (a basket), in Latin cophinus and French cofin. Initially, the word meant ‘box’ but in the 16th century it took on two meanings, one of which is the dreaded coffin.
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that appears to the living. However, Halloween ghosts will be disappointed to know that their linguistic ancestors where neither scary nor vengeful. In Old English, ghost simply meant “spirit”, a meaning preserved when we refer to the Holy Ghost.
To get you in the right mood for Halloween, here are the top 10 Halloween songs of all time.