French Halloween Vocabulary

Instructor: Emily France

Emily has experience teaching English and French and has a master's degree in International Studies

In this lesson, we will learn some French vocabulary related to Halloween, including basic terms for costumes and decorations and phrases like 'trick or treat,' to help you celebrate this spooky holiday in true French fashion.

Halloween in France

Joyeux Halloween! (pronounced zhwah-yö ah-loh-ween) - Happy Halloween! Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the United States and inspires images of ghosts, witches, and monsters, as well as fall mainstays like pumpkins, candy corn, and caramel apples. In recent decades, though, Halloween has started to become a truly global phenomenon that is celebrated the world over, including in France and French-speaking areas like Quebec.

While trick-or-treating isn't as common in France as it is in the U.S., Halloween-themed parties and scary costumes abound around October 31st, so learning some vocabulary related to this spooky holiday will help you celebrate with some French flair.

Spooky decorations like this citrouille effrayante (scary pumpkin) and costumes are becoming more common in French-speaking areas of the world around Halloween
Scary halloween pumpkin

General Halloween Terms

Halloween falls on the eve of la Toussaint (pronounced lah too-san), or All Saints Day, a Catholic holiday that is widely celebrated in France, during which people visit their loved ones' graves and pray to their favorite saints. Halloween is often celebrated as an extension of this holiday in France. Although Halloween is largely seen as an American trend, many in France still celebrate it, mostly by going to costume parties, and some children trick or treat. Halloween is even more popular in French-speaking areas of Canada. When observing Halloween in a French-speaking country, you may hear some of the following terms:

English French Pronunciation
Happy Halloween Joyeux Halloween zhwah-yö ah-loh-ween
Trick or treat! Bonbons s'il vous plaît (mostly used in Quebec, literal translation: 'candy, please')
Des bonbons ou un sort! (used in Europe, literal translation: 'candy or a spell!')
bon-bon see-voo-play
day bon-bon oo uhn sohr
All Saints Day la Toussaint lah too-san
October 31st le trente et un octobre leh trawnt ay uhn ohk-tohb-ruh
to go trick-or-treating Faire + la chasse aux bonbons (literal translation: 'the candy hunt')
Faire + le passage d'Halloween (literal translation: 'the Halloween passage')
Faire + du porte-à-porte (literal translation: 'door-to-door')
fayr + lah shahs oh bon-bon
fayr + luh pahs-ahzh dahl-oh-ween
fayr + doo port-ah-port
to knock on a door frapper à la porte frah-pay ah lah port
piece of candy le bonbon luh bon-bon
candy (in general) les bonbons
les friandises
lay bon-bon
lay free-ahn-deez
to be scared (of) avoir peur (de) ah-vwahr puhr duh
to scare someone faire peur à quelqu'un fayr puhr ah kehl-kun
Halloween party la fête d'Halloween lah feht dall-oh-ween
costume party la fête déguisée lah feht day-gee-zay
costume le déguisement
le costume
luh day-geez-uh-mahn
luh coh-stoom
spooky/scary effrayant(e)
ehf-ray-ahn (t)
Boo! Bouh! boo
cemetery la cimitière lah see-mee-tee-ayr
haunted house la maison hantée lah may-zon ahn-tay
candy apple la pomme d'amour (literal translation: 'apple of love') lah pohm dah-moor
chocolate bar la barre de chocolat lah bahr duh shoh-koh-lah

Halloween is a great occasion for kids to collect some delicious bonbons or friandises (both terms for candy)
Halloween candy

Popular Costumes and Decorations

If you're hosting or attending a Halloween party, you'll likely need to find a scary costume to wear and some spooky decorations. In that case, many of the following terms will come in handy:

English French Pronunciation
to carve a pumpkin sculpter une citrouille scuhlp-tay oon see-troo-ee
Jack-o'-lantern la citrouille-lanterne lah see-troo-ee lahn-tayr-nuh
black cat le chat noir luh shah nwahr
skeleton le squelette luh skuh-leht
ghost le fantôme luh fahn-tohm
monster le monstre luh mohn-struh
spider l'araignée (fem.) lah-rehn-yay
spider web la toile d'araignée lah twahl dah-rehn-yay
witch la sorcière lah sohr-see-ayr
mummy la momie lah moh-mee
princess la princesse lah pran-sehs
werewolf le loup-garou luh loo-gah-roo
vampire le vampire luh vahm-peer
bat la chauve-souris lah shohv-soo-ree
zombie le zombie luh zohm-bee

Some Other Costume Terms

In addition, these more specific words and phrases will be useful when planning your costume:

English French Pronunciation
mask le masque luh mahsk
makeup le maquillage luh mah-kee-yahzh
to wear or put on makeup se maquiller suh mah-kee-yay
wig la perruque lah peh-rook
cape la cape lah cahp
witch's hat le chapeau de sorcière or le chapeau pointu luh shah-poh duh sohr-see-ayr or luh shah-poh pwahn-too
to wear a costume/to dress up (as) se déguiser (en) suh day-gee-zay

Il se deguise en fantome, et elle se deguise en sorciere (He is dressed as a ghost, and she is dressed as a witch)
Trick or treaters

Sample Halloween-Related Conversations

With the above terms and phrases, you can start to build some basic conversations related to Halloween. For instance, if your friend Marie invites you to her Halloween party, you might have a conversation like this:

Marie: Je donne une fête d'Halloween le trente et un octobre. Est-ce que tu veux venir? (I'm having a Halloween party on October 31. Would you like to come?)

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