Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spook n.

[SE spook, a ghost]

1. (US black) a white person.

[US]P.E. Miller Down Beat’s Yearbook of Swing n.p.: spook: a white musician.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 19: Us young homes, and lanes and hipstuds, gray and fay, and spook and spade.
[US]B. Malamud Tenants (1972) 124: ‘Let the white spook exit out.’ The spook, whiter than ever, humiliated to the soles of his shoes but still in one piece.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 154: He belted the nearest whitey [...] ‘Come on boys, let’s give it to the spooks’.

2. a derog. term for an Italian.

[US]Intermountain Catholic (Salt Lake City) 5 Oct. 4/4: The sensational pulpit bangers who point out spooks with rosary beads racing for political office.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 19: A couple of spooks runnin’ a roadhouse with a gas pump out front.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 130: What would I want an oil-hair spook like that for anyhow, fancy?

3. a derog. term for a black person.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 27 Apr. 7/7: Get a sun-tanned spook.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 65: He [...] let some spook beside him finish his hand.
[US]C. Himes Real Cool Killers (1969) 48: These is white cops [...] They believe spooks are crazy.
[US]C. Himes Cotton Comes to Harlem (1967) 70: No matter how white a spook might become he’s still a nigger.
[Aus]K. Tennant Tell Morning This 293: [She] was doing time for going with ‘spooks’ — negroes.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 59: I’d go over there if it wasn’t all spooks.
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 134: Look who’s talking, goddamn junkie spook.
[US]R.C. Cruz Straight Outta Compton 57: ‘We got a spook,’ the officer radioed in.
[US]C. Stella Eddie’s World 193: If this spook has half a brain, he’s in Tahiti by now.
[US](con. 1960s) J. Ellroy Blood’s a Rover 30: Spooks: The restaurant was thick with them [...] Colored waiters, colored lobbyist, colored baseball ace.
[Aus](con. 1943) G.S. Manson Coorparoo Blues [ebook] ‘He was doing a bit of backdoor stuff with some darkies [...] spooks’.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] The spooks are scared shitless of dogs.
[US]S.A. Crosby Razorblade Tears 2512: ‘Come into my house [...] and bring a spook with you’.

4. (US) an intelligence agent, esp. CIA [Yale University secret society Skull & Bones, from among whose members were recruited the personnel of the OSS, the WWII predecessor of the CIA].

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]S. Greenlee Spook who Sat by the Door (1972) 14: You know they call CIA agents spooks?
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 98: ‘You’re an American [...] How were they supposed to know you weren’t a spy or – ’ ‘They thought I was a spook?’.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 26: A spook wears dark glasses and a trenchcoat and works for ASIO (like the CIA but apparently totalh incompetent).
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 237: Spooks. Counterspooks. Spooks who were in it for the money, for the glory, for the sheer hell of it.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 32: He told the spooks in the Phoenix Program they could take his stripes.
[US]W. Ellis Crooked Little Vein 29: ISA, which I knew were the president’s own spooks, formed by Carter.
[Aus]C. Hammer Scrublands [ebook] Or could the cops have actually called on ASIO for assistance? That seems unlikely; there wouldn’t be much the spooks could offer a homicide investigation.
[US]N. Walker Cherry 58: ‘I’m a spook. That’s counterintelligence’.
[UK]M. Herron Joe Country [ebook] ‘No editor’s going to print that St Len’s is the Spooks’ Chapel’.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 394: [Gore Vidal] famously remarked that the holy ghost could not hope to compete with the holy spooks.

5. a derog. term for a Chinese or Vietnamese person.

[UK]M. Terry Old Liberty (1962) 202: You want to see all these spooks and fags you brought here get hurt? [...] we’re going to clean you, man, and run her back to town like the dirty little Chink whore she is.
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 6: Listen, you squint-eyed spook, you ain’ tellin’ me annathang I don’ know.

6. (US black) used to describe a fellow black person.

C. HImes If He Hollers 3: [W]e spooks were still trying to prove how happy we were.
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream 24: A young brown-skinned woman [...] laughed melodiously. ‘Hey, baby, come and look at this spook with his house on his back.’.
[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 304: Always running down them spooks who ain’t into anything.
[US]N. Heard Cold Fire Burning 25: I had me some white pussy any time I wanted it. Not many spooks could say that.
[US]J.L. Gwaltney Drylongso 231: You see all these spooks jumpin’ up and down talkin’ about ‘come sweet Savior!’.

7. (drugs) a heroin addict.

[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 406: Here’s the spook she shoulda done in [...] Shot enough shit through him to put his little family on easy street.

8. (Aus.) a derog. term for a native Australian.

[Aus]K. Gilbert Living Black 27: The police would pull up [...] and say, ‘What are you doing with that spook?’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 17: One poor, skinny spook from Redfern’s put the bustle on you and you’ve all shit yourselves.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 180: Abos, spooks, coons, slopes, chows, dagos, spags, spics, greasers and wogs – and whatever other third world gin jockey or porch monkey that came along.

9. (S.Afr.) a fright, a scare.

Crux Aug. 43: Well, these Israelites only catch a big spook – like they were all too chicken to take this ou on [DSAE].

In derivatives

spooky (adj.)

pertaining to intelligence agencies.

[US]R. Starnes Requiem in Utopia 111: ‘You can’t stop me, and I don’t believe your spooky colleagues can stop me’.

In compounds

spook juke (n.) [juke v.2 (3), i.e. one who has sex with blacks]

(US prison) a white inmate who is seen as overly friendly to black ones.

[US]J. Ellroy Silent Terror 67: Do not seek the friendship of blacks, or you would be considered a [...] ‘spook juke’.