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May I have a word: Halloween-related terms that really strike a gourd

Naming those who dole out the big bars and the teenaged trick-or-treaters who don’t even bother to dress up.

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Last time, I requested two Halloween-themed words: one for people who give trick-or-treaters full-size candy bars and one for teenagers who make the rounds but aren’t wearing a costume.

Harry Eisenberg, of Wayland, called the candy-bar givers fullhandthropists. Marjory Wunsch, of Cambridge, called them overtreaters. Jack Tuttle, of Hyde Park, came up with dandégrandécandébaristas. No idea what he’s on about, but I think I like it.

Tom Hayden, of Chelmsford, sent me a photo of a particular candy bar in its wrapper and wrote: “Regardless of what brand of candy bar they’re giving out on Halloween, I’d call them Mr. or Ms. Goodbartender.”


And Norm Quesnel, of Framingham, suggested we call them the we-only-get-three-kids-all-night-ers.

Readers had quite a bit more to say about the teenagers.

Naomi Angoff Chedd, of Brookline, lamented: “Couldn’t they at least spend the $3 for one of those Lone Ranger masks? Or cut a few holes in an old sheet? It’s a small price to pay for a month’s supply of peanut butter cups and gummy worms. Let’s call them bare naked lazies.

She continued: “You get a pass if you have your little brother or 7-year-old niece in tow, in which case please help yourself to all the Skittles you want.”

Cyndy Overgaag, of West Springfield, thought along similar lines:

“All teenagers go through the Halloween limbo between free candy and not yet invited to the cool parties. Wearing your football jersey and an ape mask does not a costume make. Perhaps the word for those that pull together a last-minute lame outfit should come from an acronym: LACK for lazy-ass costume kids or Halloween LACKies.”

Laura McCarron, of West Newbury, reasoned: “Anyone so desperate for sweets on Halloween and who doesn’t wear a costume must be a craverobber!” Katherine Lee, of West Newton, wanted to call them toocoolghouls.


Rob Moore thought that “minimally costumed trick-or-treaters could be werentwolves — or weren’twolves, if the apostrophe makes it clearer.” Michael McCarron, of West Newbury, suggested: “If someone is without a costume, maybe it’s because they are going as a wearlesswolf.”

Erin M. Gorman, of Boston, asserted: “Rather than trick-or-treaters, who wear costumes, they are trick-or-cheaters.”

And yet more coinages! Janet Buczel, of Cheshire, Conn., wrote: “Because one cannot help feeling somewhat taken advantage of when they show up like this at one’s door, I suggest a play on a real candy name, candy corn, to describe them. They’re candy cons.”

Carl Witthoft, of Chelmsford, told me: “This just makes me happy to say: nimpostor. A combo of nim for ‘nothing’ and impostor, which is what someone in a real costume is.”

Bill Barrett, of West Roxbury, had an anecdote to share: “Well after the trick-or-treating kids and families came and went and the street was quiet, three young teenage boys rang my bell wearing no costumes whatsoever. I mockingly asked, ‘What are you?’ And they replied in unison, ‘Punks!’ I had to laugh at the honesty. They all got full-sized bars.”

Jack Tuttle, of the aforementioned dandégrandécandébaristas coinage, wanted to call them shallowteens, adding “and their slightly younger siblings are Hallowtweens.” Norm Quesnel proposed “the not-yet-Halloweaneds.”

Amy Yatsuhashi, of Reading, had a more forgiving spin on such scamps: “I actually appreciate the kids who come to the door in half a costume because they are prolonging a fun childhood tradition and are not out making mischief. They also tend to come later in the evening, so I can treat them with the excess candy still in my bowl. A good name for these kids is trick-or-tweeners, because they are between the life stages of child and adult and are between being costumed and not.”


Amy, I’m awarding you special bragging rights for accentuating the positive. People who do that are all too rare these days. For the same challenge, Janet Buczel wins bragging rights for candy cons. It’s not overly specific, candy corn calls Halloween to mind, and it’s easy to understand and to say. And Norm Quesnel gets bragging rights for naming the full-size candy distributors “we-only-get-three-kids-all-night-ers,” which made me laugh out loud. Amy, Janet, and Norm, nice work!

Our new challenge comes from Rod Kessler, a retired English professor from Salem, who wrote in with a particular seasonal vexation: “When we wear layer upon layers, the innermost sleeves of shirts often get bunched up at the elbow and are hard to pull down once the sweater and coat are shrugged on. What to call the troublesome business of unfurling the deeper, now nearly out-of-reach sleeves?

Send your suggestions for this word to me at by noon on Friday, Nov. 10, and kindly tell me where you live. Responses may be edited. And please keep in mind that meanings in search of words are always welcome.

Barbara Wallraff is a writer and editor in Cambridge.