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Scary Business English Phrases which come from Halloween

Updated October 20, 2023 by David Cox, Business English Coach

Are you planning to celebrate Halloween this year?  Did you know that there are many Halloween and horror-related phrases that are used frequently in Business English?  Let's take a look at the most common idioms and phrases below! 

Business English Phrases from Halloween

a skeleton in your closet

An embarrassing or scandalous fact about someone that they tried to keep secret

 “It has been revealed that the large corporation had a few skeletons in their closet, and their reputation has been damaged since the scandals came to light.” 

to come back to haunt you 

When a past situation, action or decision causes problems much later in the future

 “The risky decision that the CEO made 3 years ago came back to haunt her yesterday when the company went into liquidation.” 

to play devil's advocate

if you are in a discussion or a meeting, to play devil’s advocate means to pretend to be against a plan so that people discuss the plan in more depth and more constructively. It is considered a positive way to balance a discussion.

 Just to play devil’s advocate, what would be our contingency if the plan didn’t work?” 


a witch hunt

An attempt to punish particular people who have been blamed for something

 “He was fired after the deal collapsed. He feels that he was the victim of a witch hunt.” 

to ghost someone

Suddenly ending all communication and avoiding contact with another person without giving any warning or explanation.

 “Ghosting employers and members of your network can significantly damage your professional reputation.”

to be in the same ballpark

To be of a similar amount

"The companies are both very big.  The valuations of the two companies are in the same ballpark."

the graveyard shift

If you are working the graveyard shift, it typically means that you are working a late evening shift, or a shift from around 10pm to 8am.

"Unfortunately, I am working the graveyard shift tonight."

to dig your own grave

To do something very foolish which causes your downfall.

 “If you vote against the decision, you will be digging your own grave."

to stab someone in the back

to betray someone despite pretending to be friendly and supportive of them

 “You have to be careful with him.  He may be very friendly to your face, but he is happy to stab you in the back in order to climb the corporate ladder.” 


The act of criticizing someone in order to betray them, despite appearing friendly towards them

 “There are some significant problems with the company culture.  There is a lot of backstabbing within teams, and it seems as if everyone only cares about themselves.” 

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David from Fluency Space

The Author - David Cox

I am a professional English coach from the UK.  I have taught Business English to professionals around the world for over 11 years, focusing specifically on advanced learners.

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