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The bogeyman (also spelled boogyman, bogyman, boogieman, boogey monster) is a legendary ghost-like monster. The bogeyman has no specific appearance and conceptions of the monster can vary drastically even from household to household within the same community; in many cases, he simply has no set appearance in the mind of a child, but is just an amorphous embodiment of terror. Bogeyman can be used metaphorically to denote a person or thing of which someone has an irrational fear. Parents often say that if their child is naughty, the bogeyman will get them, in an effort to make them behave. The bogeyman legend may originate from Scotland, where such creatures are sometimes called bogles, boggarts, or boggers.[1]

Bogeyman tales vary by region. In some places, the bogeyman is male; in others, female, and in others, both. In some Midwestern states of the USA, the bogeyman scratches at the window. In the Pacific Northwest, he may manifest in "green fog". In other places, he hides under the bed or in the closet and tickles children when they go to sleep at night. It is said that a wart can be transmitted to someone by the bogeyman.[1] Bogeymen may be said to target a specific mischief – for instance, a bogeyman that punishes children who suck their thumbs – or general misbehaviour.


Origin of the word

The word bogey is derived from the Middle English bogge/bugge (also the origin of the word bug), and thus is generally thought to be a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (English "Bogeyman"). The word could also be linked to many similar words in other European languages: boeman (Dutch), buse (Nynorsk), bòcan, púca, pooka or pookha (Irish Gaelic), pwca, bwga or bwgan (Welsh), puki (Old Norse), pixie or piskie (Cornish), puck (English), bogu (Slavonic), buka (Russian).[2] It has also been argued that the word boogeyman has the same origin as buggerman, tracing its roots to bugger, from ME bougre (heretic, sodomite), fr. MF, fr. ML Bulgaris, lit. Bulgarian. [3] [4]


Other putative origins

In Southeast Asia, the term is commonly accepted to refer to Bugis [5] or Buganese [6] pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia's third largest island. These pirates often plagued early English or Dutch trading ships, namely those of the British East India Company or Dutch East India Company. It is popularly believed that this resulted in the European sailors bringing their fear of the "bugi men" back to their home countries. However, etymologists disagree with this, because words relating to bogeyman were in common use centuries before European colonization of Southeast Asia and it is therefore unlikely that the Bugis would have been commonly known to westerners during that time. ANUP WAS ERRRRRRRR

Analogues in other cultures

Bogeyman-like beings are nearly universal; common to folklore in many disparate countries.

  • Argentina - As in Armenia, Brazil and Portugal, the bogeyman is called the "Bag Man" ("Hombre de la Bolsa" or in some cases "Coco" or "Cuco"), who would take the child with him if he does not behave. Usually used to threaten children so that they do what their parents want.
  • Armenia - Much like in Brazil and Portugal, the bogeyman is called the "Bag Man" who also carries a bag and if you don't behave "he will kidnap you" and what happens after is unknown.
  • Azerbaijan - A boogeyman-like creature parents refer to make children behave is called khokhan ("xoxan").
  • Bahamas – "Small man" is the name given to a man who rides in a cart drawn by itself and picks up any child seen outside after sundown, the term "rollin' cart" was used to scare children who didn't behave. Anyone taken by the small man becomes a small person and has to ride on the back of his cart with him forever.
  • Belgium - A faceless bogeyman called "Oude Rode Ogen" (Old Red Eyes) was known throughout the Flanders region and said to originate in Mechelen. It is said to have been a cannibalistic shapeshifter that was able to change between human form to that of a black dog. It later became a children's story in the early 1900s called "The Nikker", known to devour young children that stayed up past their bedtime.
  • Brazil and Portugal - A similar creature with the same function (to scare misbehaving children) exists as the "Bag Man" (Portuguese: "homem do saco"). It is portrayed as an adult male, usually in the form of a vagrant, who carries a sack on his back (much like Santa Claus would), and collects mean disobedient children to sell. Parents may tell their kids that they will call the "Sack man" to collect them if they do not behave. A monster more akin to the Bogeyman is called "Bicho Papão" (Eating Beast). A notable difference is 'homem do saco' is a diurnal menace and "Bicho Papão" is a bed-time nocturnal menace.
  • Bulgaria - In Bulgaria, children are sometimes told that a dark scary monster-like person called Torbalan (Bulgarian: "Торбалан", which comes from "торба", meaning a sack, so his name means "Man with a sack") will come and kidnap them with his large sack if they misbehave. In some villages, people used to believe that a hairy, dark, ghost-like creature called a talasam (Tal-ah-SUHM) lived in the shadows of the barn or in the attic and came out at night to scare little children.
  • Cherokee - During the Corn Festival, young Cherokee males wearing phallic-laden masks would make fun of politicians, frighten children into being good, and moreover seduce young women by shaking their masks at them and chasing them around. Male participants in this Booger Dance were referred to as the Booger Man.
  • Chile - In Chile, and particularly in the Southern and Austral Zones, is mostly known as "El Viejo del Saco" ("The old man with the bag") who walks around the neighbourhood every day around supper time. This character is not considered or perceived as a mythical or fantastic creature by children, instead he is recognised as an insane psychotic murderer that somehow has been accepted by society which allows him to take a child that has been given to him willingly by disappointed parents or any child that is not home by sundown or supper time.
  • Croatia and Serbia- The Bogeyman is called Babaroga, baba meaning old lady and rogovi meaning horns. Literally meaning old lady with horns. The details vary from one household to another. In one household, babaroga takes children, puts them in a sack and then, when it comes to its cave, eats them. In another household, it takes children and pulls them up through tiny holes in the ceiling.
  • Czech Republic and Poland - Bubak or hastrman (Bugbear, scarecrow, respectively) is the Czech boogeyman; he is like Torbalan in being a man with a sack who takes children. He also, however, takes adults, and is known for hiding by riverbanks and making a sound like a lost baby, in order to lure the unwary. He weaves on nights of the full moon, making clothes for his stolen souls, and has a cart drawn by cats. In some regions of Poland, like Silesia or Great Poland, children are mock-threatened with bebok (babok, bobok).
  • Denmark and Norway - The equivalent of the Bogeyman in Danish is bussemanden or "Bøhmanden" (meaning "The Buhman"). It hides under the bed and grabs children who will not sleep. Like the English, it is also a slang term for nasal mucus. In Norway, he is referred to as Busemannen
  • Egypt - The "Abo Ragl Ma Slokha" (ابو رجل مسلوخة), which translates to the "Man With Burnt Leg". It is a very scary story that parents tell their children when they misbehave. The "Abo Ragl Ma Slokha" is a monster that got burnt when he was a child because he did not listen to his parents. He grabs naughty children to cook and eat them. The same as El Bo'Bo' (البعبع), who is more popular and relevant to this topic. He is often depicted as a night creature that is dressed in black, who haunts children that misbehave.
  • Finland - The equivalent of the Bogeyman in Finland is mörkö. The most famous usage of the word these days takes place in Moomin-stories (originally written in Swedish) in which mörkö (the Groke) is a frightening, dark blue, big, ghost-looking creature.
  • France - The French equivalent of the Bogeyman is le croque-mitaine ("the mitten-biter").[7]
  • Germany - in Germany, the Bogeyman is known as Der schwarze Mann (the black man), the "Buhmann" or the Butzemann. "Schwarz" does not refer to the colour of his skin but to his preference for hiding in dark places, like the closet, under the bed of children or in forests at night. There is also an active game for little children which is called Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann? (Who is afraid of the black man?) or an old traditional folk song Es tanzt ein Bi-Ba-Butzemann in unserm Haus herum (A Bi-Ba-Bogeyman dances around in our house).
  • Greece and Cyprus - in the Greek-speaking world, the equivalent of the Bogeyman is known as Baboulas (Greek: Μπαμπούλας). Typically, he is said to be hiding under the bed, although the details of his story is adapted by the parents in a variety of ways.
  • Haiti - In Haiti, the Bogeyman is a giant, and a counterpart of Father Christmas, renowned for abducting bad children by putting them in his knapsack. His name in the Haitian creole language is Tonton Macoute, or "Uncle Gunnysack". This name, The Tontons Macoute ("The Uncle Gunnysacks"] was given to certain Haitian secret policemen, who were said also to make people disappear, as a bogeyman.
  • Hungary - In Hungarian folklore the bogeyman, called mumus is an elusive creature who scares children; the expression is often used to frighten children. Usually the expression is used in the following context: "The mumus will come for you". Another expression for "mumus" is "zsákos ember", literally: the man with the sack (in which he takes away children).
  • Honduras - Like many other Latin American cultures Honduran children fear "el coco", sometimes referred to as "el bolo" as well. Another fear of misbehaving children is "El Roba Chicos", or child-snatcher, which is also very similar to the Spanish "Hombre del Saco."
  • Iceland - The Icelandic equivalent of the Bogeyman is Grýla, a female troll who would take misbehaving children and eat them. However, as the story goes, she has been dead for some time. She is also the mother of the Yule Lads, the Icelandic equivalent of Santa Claus.
  • India - In India, the entity is known by different names.
    • North India - Children are sometimes threatened with the Bori Baba, who carries a sack (bori) in which he places children he captures. A similar character is the Chownki Daar, a night shift security guard who takes children who refuse to go to sleep.
    • South India -In Karnataka the demon "Goggayya"(roughly meaning 'terrible man') can be treated as counterpart of Bogeyman. In the state of Tamil Nadu, children are often mock-threatened with the Rettai Kannan (the two-eyed one) or Poochaandi (பூச்சாண்டி), a monster or fearsome man that children are sometimes threatened with if they are not obedient or refuse to eat. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the equivalent of bogeyman is Buddaa or Shaitaan.
  • Iran - In Persian culture, children who misbehave may be told by their parents to be afraid of lulu (لولو) who eats up the naughty children. Lulu is usually called lulu-khorkhore (bogeyman who eats everything up). The threat is generally used to make small children eat their meals.
  • Italy - The Italian equivalent of the Bogeyman is l'uomo nero ("the black man")or Babau, portrayed as a tall man wearing a heavy black coat, with a black hood or hat which hides his face. Sometimes, parents will knock loudly under the table, pretending that someone is knocking at the door, and saying: "Here comes l'uomo nero! He must know that there's a child here who doesn't want to drink his soup!" L'uomo nero is not supposed to eat or harm children, just take them away to a mysterious and frightening place. A popular lullaby says that he would keep a child with him "for a whole year"[8].
  • Japan - Namahage are demons that warn children not to be lazy or cry, during the Namahage Sedo Matsuri, or "Demon Mask Festival", when villagers don demon masks and pretend to be these spirits.[9]
  • Korea - In Gyungsang province, Dokebi (도깨비) is understood as a monster that appears to get misbehaving children. The word kokemi, however, is derived from a word Kotgahm (곶감), dried persimmon. According to Korean folklore, a woman, in an attempt to soothe her crying child, said "Here comes a tiger to come and get you. I'll let him in unless you stop crying." Accidentally, a tiger passed by, overheard her and decided to wait for his free meal. Instead of opening the door of the house, to the tiger's disappointment, the mother offered her child a dried persimon saying "Here's a kotgahm." Of course, the child, busy eating, stopped crying. The tiger, not knowing what a Kotgahm is, ran away thinking "this must be a scary monster for whom even I am no match." (Tigers are revered by Koreans as most powerful and fearsome creatures.) Other variations include mangtae younggam (망태 영감) an oldman (younggam) who carries a mesh sack (mahngtae) to put his kidnapped children in. In some regions, mangtae younggam is replaced by mangtae halmum (망태 할멈), an old woman with a mesh sack.
  • Mexico - "El Coco" is portrayed as an evil monster that hides under children's bed at night and kidnaps or eats the child that does not obey his parents or goes to sleep when it is time to do so.
  • Myanmar - Children are threatened with Pashu Gaung Phyat, meaning Malayu Headhunter. In Burmese, Malays were called "Pashu", which may come from Bajau or Bugis. Even Peninsular Malaysia was called Pashu Peninsula. It is common knowledge that some ethnic groups in Eastern Malaysia, Iban and Dayak were notorious headhunters. Although the Wa tribe of Burma was famous previously until the 1970s, ferocious headhunters,[10] it is a mystery why Burmese use the faraway Pashus as bogeymen.
  • Norway* - "nøkken", the Norwegian bogeyman, is portrayed as a monster in the lake. He was said to come and take children who did not come in when they were told to.
  • Netherlands - Boeman, The Dutch Bogeyman is portrayed as a creature that resembles a man, dressed completely black, with sharp claws and fangs. He hides under the bed or in the closet. The Bogeyman takes bad children or those that refuse to sleep and locks them in his basement for a period of time.
  • Philippines - Pugot (only in most Ilocano regions), Mamu and Mumu. In Kapampangan culture it is known as the Mánguang Anac or the Child snatcher.
  • Quebec - in this French-speaking province, the Bonhomme Sept-Heures (7 o'clock man) is said to visit houses around 7 o'clock to take misbehaving children who will not go to bed back to his cave where he feasts on them.
  • Romania - in Romania, the equivalent of the Bogeyman is known as bau-bau (pronounced "bow-bow"). Bau-bau stories are used by parents to scare children who misbehave. The babau (babao or barabao) also appears in Italy and Egypt.
  • Russia, Ukraine and Belarus- usually said to be hiding under the bed, buka ("бука"), babay ("бабай") or babayka ("бабайка") is used to keep children in bed or stop them from misbehaving. 'Babay' means "old man" in Tatar. Children are told that "babay" is an old man with a bag or a monster, and that it will take them away if they misbehave.
  • Slovenia – The Slovenian Bogeyman is called Bavbav. It does not have a particular shape or form. Often, it is not even defined as a man or anything human. It can be thought of as a kind of sprite.
  • Spain- The Spanish Bogeyman is known as El Coco (also named in some parts of Spain as El Ogro, although ogro is usually the Spanish word for ogre), a shapeless figure, sometimes a hairy monster, that hides in closets or under beds and eats children that misbehave when they are told to go to bed. Parents will sing lullabies or tell rhymes to the children warning them that if they do not sleep, El Coco will come and get them. The rhyme originated in the 17th century has evolved over the years, but still retaining its original meaning. Curiously, coconuts (Spanish: coco) received that name because its brownish hairy surface reminded Portuguese explorers of coco, a ghost with a pumpkin head. The aforementioned Brazilian "Bag Man" also exists in Spain in the form of the Hombre del Saco or Hombre de la bolsa, who is usually depicted as a mean and impossibly ugly and skinny old man who eats the misbehaving children he collects. Curiously, the Hombre del Saco actually existed, being the man who, during the 16th and 17th centuries, was in charge of collecting orphan babies in order to take them to the orphanages: he would put them in a huge bag or in wicker baskets, and carry them all through the province collecting more children. Most of them usually died before reaching the orphanage due to the lack of care and the obviously insalubrious conditions in which he transported them. French writer Victor Hugo wrote about this job in his The Man Who Laughs, describing it as the starter of the Spanish bogeyman myth.
  • Spanish America - The Latin American bogeyman resembles somewhat the Spaniard El Coco, although its folklore is usually quite different, commonly mixed with native believes, and, because of cultural contacts, sometimes more related to the US bogeyman. However, the term El Coco is also used in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, although there it is more usually called El Cuco. In the Mexican-American community, the creature is known as "El cucuy". Moreover, the Spanish American bogeyman does not resemble the shapeless or hairy monster of Spain: social sciences professor Manuel Medrano says popular legend describes El cucuy as a small humanoid with glowing red eyes that hides in closets or under the bed. 'Some lore has him as a kid who was the victim of violence ... and now he’s alive, but he’s not,' Medrano said, citing Xavier Garza’s 2004 book Creepy Creatures and other Cucuys."[11]
  • Sri Lanka - Goni Billa - A scary man carrying a sack to capture and keep children. Elders use him for children who refused to behave well.
  • Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic - in these places, the bogeyman is called "el cuco". It is said that children that misbehave will be taken by this creature of the night. After the abduction, many things are said to happen, including the "cuco" eating the children.
  • Sweden - in Sweden, the Bogeyman is sometimes referred to as Monstret under sängen, which essentially means "the monster under the bed".
  • Switzerland - in Switzerland, the Bogeyman is called Böllima or Böögg and has an important role in the springtime ceremonies. The figure is the symbol of winter and death, so in the Sechseläuten ceremony in the City of Zürich, where a figure of the Böögg is burnt.
  • Turkey - in Turkey, the equivalent of the bogeyman is Öcü (less often called Böcü), a scary creature carrying a sack to capture and keep children.
  • Trinidad and Tobago - Most Trinbagonians (rural demographic mostly) refer to folklore to scare disobedient children. The most common word that is used is Jumbie. Some "jumbies" are the Soucouyant, Lagahoo, La Diabless, Papa Bois, etc. "Bogeyman" is also used in the same context as its origin but by mostly urbanised citizens, and it can also can be called "The Babooman".
  • USA - The Jersey Devil, which originated in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, is believed by many to be an old time Bogeyman created by residents to scare off travellers from coming onto their land.
  • Vietnam - ông ba bị (in the North - literally mister-three-bags) or ông kẹ (in the South) is used to make small children eat their meals or to scare children who misbehave, usually in a mock-threatening way. It is said that he will come to the misbehaved child's home in the middle of the night, and take them away.
  • DR Congo - In Lingala language the world "Dongola Miso" or "Creature with Scary Eyes" is used to discourage children from staying up beyond bedtime. It is also used to warn children or even adults about the potential danger in speaking to or dealing with strangers.


  1. ^ a b McNab, Chris(Chris McNab). Ancient Legends/Folklore. New York : Scholastic, Inc., 2007. (ISBN 0-439-85479-2)
  2. ^ Cooper, Brian. "Lexical reflections inspired by Slavonic *bogǔ: English bogey from a Slavonic root?" Transactions of the Philological Society, Volume 103, Number 1, April 2005 , pp. 73-97(25)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "In Indonesia". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  6. ^ "The Buginese of Sulawesi". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  7. ^ Edouard Brasey, L'encyclopédie du merveilleux, T3 : Des peuples de l'ombre, Le Pré aux Clercs, 2006, pp. 14-16.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Yamamoto Yoshiko: The Namahage: a festival in the northeast of Japan. Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Philadelphia 1978, ISBN 0-915980-66-5
  10. ^ Soldiers of Fortune, TIME Asia
  11. ^ El cucuy has roots deep in border folklore

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary





Boogeyman (plural boogeymen)

  1. Alternative spelling of bogeyman.


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