Trick-or-Treater OR Trick or Treater?

trick or treat photo

I don’t care about your stupid mask, lady. Put the candy in the bag.

How do you spell the name of those adorable (menacing) little children (vagrants) who knock on your door asking for (demanding) candy on Halloween night? Is it “trick-or-treaters” or “trick or treaters”? Hyphens or no hyphens?

The answer is: hyphens. The correct way to spell it is “trick-or-treater.”

But what about “trick or treat,” you say? Hyphens or no hyphens there? This one is a bit more complicated.

Let’s look at the two ways you can use “trick or treat,” as a verb and as a noun.

Verb: Sally dressed up as an amoeba to trick-or-treat.

Noun: As Sally dragged her candy sack home, she thought the trick or treat was successful.

When I wrote “trick-or-treat” as a verb, I used hyphens. Hyphens are always the answer when you use it as a verb. But when written as a noun, “trick or treat” can go either way, says our friends at Merriam-Webster:


Now go forth and eat candy, friends! A happy trick or treat to all!

Erin Servais is a book editor who specializes in young adult literature. She also has a sweet tooth. To learn more about how she can help you with your writing project, visit her website.

Bloody idioms


It’s a special Halloween edition of Grammar Party. In the spirit of all things bloody and gory, we’re going to take a look at some of the most popular English idioms involving blood. I hope it doesn’t make your blood curdle!

a blood brother: a man who has promised to treat another man as his brother, often in a ceremony in which they cut themselves and mix their blood together[i]
Example: The zombie and the vampire were so close that they were blood brothers.

bad blood: feelings of hate between people because of arguments in the past[ii]
Example: After the vampire stole the zombie’s girlfriend, they had bad blood.

be somebody’s (own) flesh and blood: to be someone’s relative[iii]
Example: Even though Zombie Guy Jr. was Mr. Zombie Guy’s flesh and blood, Mr. Zombie Guy still treated him poorly.

be in the/your blood: if an ability or a skill is in someone’s blood, they have it naturally, usually because it already exists in their family or is a tradition of their social group[iv]
Example: The zombie’s father ate people. His grandfather ate people. You could say eating people was in his blood.

be out for blood: if you are out for blood, you are determined to find someone to attack or blame for something[v]
Example: After the vampire stole the zombie’s girlfriend, the zombie was out for blood.

blood and guts: violence shown on television, film, or in the theater, where people are seen being injured or killed[vi]
Example: Eat the Humans was the zombie’s favorite video game because it had a lot of blood and guts.

blood is thicker than something: family relationships are stronger and more important than something else[vii]
Example: Even though Mr. Zombie Guy was angry at his son, he realized that blood is thicker than water, and he overcame his anger.

(make) your blood run cold: to be very frightened[viii]
Example: The vampire startled the zombie so greatly that he made the zombie’s blood run cold.

blood, sweat, and tears: a lot of effort and suffering[ix]
Example: The zombie could tell by the level of the vampire’s craftsmanship that he put his blood, sweat, and tears into building his new torture device.

curdle someone’s blood: to frighten or disgust someone severely[x]
Example: The horror movie scared the zombie so much that it made his blood curdle.

get blood from a stone: to do something very difficult[xi]
Example: Zombie Guy Jr. wanted to make amends with his father, but that was like trying to get blood from a stone.

have someone’s blood on one’s hands: to be responsible for someone’s death; to be guilty of causing someone’s death[xii]
Example: After the zombie went on his murderous rampage, he had blood on his hands.

in cold blood: if you do something, especially kill someone, in cold blood, you do it in a way which is cruel because you plan it and do it without emotion[xiii]
Example: Unlike the zombie, who killed with reckless abandon, the vampire planned his murders and killed in cold blood.

new blood: new members brought into a group to revive it[xiv]
Example: The zombie was relieved there was new blood in his Overeaters Anonymous group.

too rich for someone’s blood: too expensive for one’s budget[xv]
Example: The vampire was eyeing a new cape, but it was too rich for his blood.