In North America, trick or treating is a Halloween custom, in which children go door-to-door to say "trick or treat" as a way of asking for treats. I'm wondering if there are any common or at least understandable replacements for it.

Additionally, after searching trick or treat on EL&U, I'd like to expand my original question and include a request for its origin. Its phrasing presents "trick" as an alternative to "treat"; but, giving out tricks doesn't seem to be prevalent. Hopefully "trick" wasn't added without reason; so, I'm also looking for the origin of the Halloween phrase, trick or treat.

  • 4
    "Extortion with menaces"?
    – JHCL
    Oct 31, 2015 at 22:33
  • 1
    @Tower of Tesia "Curse or Candy?"
    – Elian
    Oct 31, 2015 at 22:41
  • 4
    Why do you need a replacement??
    – Jim
    Oct 31, 2015 at 22:47
  • 1
    BTW the phrase for native speakers is very understandable, no one has any problems understanding the request, or threat, if you prefer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 1, 2015 at 12:23
  • 1
    The meaning is simply "give me a treat or I'll give you a trick". Halloween was previously known by terms such as "mischief night" or "devil's night", and youngsters (and those pretending to be so) would perform "practical jokes" (such as overturning outhouses) on their neighbors. The "treat", then, was a bribe to forgo the "trick".
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 2, 2015 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


Not a very common one, but anyways; consider the Canadian regional Halloween Apples!

In some parts of Canada, children sometimes say "Halloween apples" instead of "trick or treat." This probably originated when the toffee apple was a popular type of candy. Apple-giving in much of Canada, however, has been taboo since the 1960s when stories (of almost certainly questionable authenticity) appeared of razor blades hidden inside Halloween apples; parents began to check over their children's "loot" for safety before allowing them to eat it. In Quebec, children also go door to door on Halloween. However, in French speaking neighbourhoods, instead of "Trick or treat?", they will simply say "Halloween", though in tradition it used to be La charité s'il-vous-plaît ("Charity, please"). Wikipedia

Alternately, consider the suggestion in my comment above, Curse or Candy!

Children go from place to place and say "curse or candy!" Heppy Halloween

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.