Word for Wednesday: Trick-or-treat

blog home

Our Word for Wednesday theme for October is Halloween.

The word Halloween likely dates to the seventeenth century but was popularised in the Burns poem ‘Halloween’ which was written in 1785. It is a Scottish abbreviation of ‘Allhallow-even’ which means ‘Eve of the All Saints’.  ‘Hallow’ means ‘holy person’ or ‘saint’. 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at the words pumpkin, monster, and skeleton. For our final Halloween-themed post of the month, we’ve chosen trick-or-treat

Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition in which costumed children visit neighbours asking for goodies and threatening to play tricks on those who refuse. While trick-or-treating has been practised in North America since the 1920s, the tradition of guising – going from house to house and performing in costumes in exchange for food and treats – has been practised in Scotland since the sixteenth century.

The word trick dates to the early-fifteenth century and entered English via the Old North French ‘trique’. Originally the word meant a ‘cheat’ or ‘ruse’. The meaning extended to include ‘prank’ in the late-sixteenth century, and the ‘art of doing something’ in the early-seventeenth century. 

Treat dates to around 1300 and comes from the Old French ‘tratier’, from the Latin ‘tractare’. The word was originally used as a verb meaning ‘to deal with’ and later evolved to mean ‘to entertain with food and drink’. The word took on the meaning ‘thing that gives pleasure’ in the eighteenth century.

27 Oct 2021
blog home

"Thank goodness for Spellzone during this remote learning phase. The site is easy for students to navigate independently and they're really enjoying the activities and spelling games. You get an awful lot for your money with Spellzone. Really reassuring is the very prompt response with helpdesk queries. I've very rarely needed the helpdesk, but when I have, the issue has been addressed and sorted within a very short time."

Sarah Taggart, Oasis Academy Lord's Hill