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Eek! Ghosts in our Expressions

FILE - On Halloween, a family of ghosts walk in a neighborhood in Sierra Madre, California, U.S., on October 31, 2017. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
FILE - On Halloween, a family of ghosts walk in a neighborhood in Sierra Madre, California, U.S., on October 31, 2017. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
Eek! Ghosts in our Expressions!
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And now, Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.

In the United States, October 31 is Halloween – the night when magical, frightening creatures and ghosts, the spirits of those no longer with us, walk the land!

Okay, not really. But it is fun to make believe.

To mark the day when children dress up frightfully to collect candy from their neighbors, our program today will be haunted by ghost – expressions!

For example, did you know that the word “ghost” is also used as a verb? But it does not mean to haunt a place.

When you ghost an event, like a party, you leave without saying goodbye to anyone – even the host! You just disappear into thin air … like a ghost! But unlike a ghost, you do reappear later, at work, for example, or your exercise class.

Some people even ghost a relationship. They simply leave the person without any explanation. That could haunt someone for a long time. It could leave them wondering, “What happened? What did I do?”

But dear listeners, I would never do that to you. We are in this English learning effort together. There is not a “ghost of a chance” I will leave. I will keep with it to the end.

Did you catch our next ghost expression? If something doesn’t have a ghost of a chance, it is extremely unlikely that it is going to happen.

Our next ghost expression has to do with towns -- empty towns.

If everyone leaves, a town becomes a “ghost town.” It is a place that no longer has any people living in it or at least very few. It is abandoned. The businesses have all closed and the people no longer have a way to make a living. So, they leave.

To me, an abandoned ghost town is a much sadder, emptier place than a town full of ghosts would be. Ghost-hunting tourists would probably enjoy visiting a town populated only by ghosts, especially on Halloween!

But even a ghost town can be a good place for some workers. For example, writers. A writer just needs a computer.

This would be especially good for ghostwriters. A "ghostwriter" writes books or stories for someone else using that person’s name, not their own.

Let’s say one of the ghost-hunters wants to write a book about her ghost-hunting adventures. But she is not a very good writer. She could pay a ghostwriter to help her write her ghost stories!

Now, let's imagine that their writing partnership did not go well. Maybe the ghostwriter did not get paid. And the ghost-hunter just ghosted! Then years later they run into each other again at a ghost convention. For the ghostwriter seeing the ghost-hunter is not a pleasant experience. It is like seeing a ghost from the past.

A" ghost from the past" is something unwanted or haunting from your past that comes back to you. Here is another example. If that man or woman who ghosted you years ago, comes back into your life -- they would definitely be a ghost from the past - someone you don't want to see again.

And that’s all the time we have for this Words and their Stories. Until next time … I’m Anna Matteo. Happy Halloween!

Anna Matteo wrote this for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.


Words in This Story

haunted –adj. lived in or visited by ghosts; troubled or upset

host –n. a person (especially a man) who is entertaining guests socially or as a job

abandoned –adj. left by the owner; left without the needed protection or care

tourist –n. a person who travels to a place for pleasure

convention –n. a meeting of people for a common purpose​