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Goya's Que viene el Coco ("Here Comes the Bogeyman / The Boogeyman is Coming") c. 1797

Bogeyman (also spelled bogieman, boogeyman, or boogie man, and pronounced /bʊɡimæn/ or /bɡimæn/; see spelling differences)[1] is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults to frighten children into good behavior. This monster has no specific appearance, and conceptions about it can vary drastically from household to household within the same community; in many cases, he has no set appearance in the mind of an adult or child, but is simply a non-specific embodiment of terror. Parents may tell their children that if they misbehave, the bogeyman will get them. Bogeymen may target a specific mischief—for instance, a bogeyman that punishes children who suck their thumbs—or general misbehaviour, depending on what purpose needs serving. In some cases, the bogeyman is a nickname for the devil. Bogeyman tales vary by region. The bogeyman is usually a masculine entity but can be any gender or simply androgynous.


The word bogey is believed to be derived from the Middle English bogge/bugge (hobgoblin) and is generally thought to be a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (English "Bogeyman").[2] The word could also be linked to many similar words in other European languages: bogle (Scots), boeman (Dutch), Butzemann (German), busemann (Norwegian), bøhmand / bussemand (Danish), bòcan, púca, pooka or pookha (Irish), pwca, bwga or bwgan (Welsh), puki (Old Norse), pixie or piskie (Cornish), puck (English), mumus (Hungarian), bogu (Slavonic), buka (Russian, бука), bauk (Serbian), bubulis (Latvian), baubas (Lithuanian), bobo (Polish), bebok (Silesian), papão (Portuguese), торбалан (Bulgarian), Μπαμπούλας (Greek), bua (Georgian, ბუა), babau (Italian), baubau(Romanian) papu (Catalan).[3]

The word bugbear, from bug + bear, suggests that the bogey eating small children takes on the appearance of a bear.[4] The word bugaboo probably arose as an alteration of bugbear.[5]

Other putative origins

In Southeast Asia, the term is popularly supposed to refer to Bugis[6] or Buganese[7] pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia's third-largest island. These pirates often plagued early English and Dutch trading ships of the British East India Company and 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.

Analogs in other cultures

Bogeyman-like beings are almost universal, common to the folklore of many countries.

Sack Man

In many countries, a bogeyman variant is portrayed as a man with a sack on his back who carries naughty children away. This is true for many Latin countries, such as Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and the countries of Spanish America, where it is referred to as el "Hombre del costal", el "hombre del saco", or in Portuguese, o "homem do saco" (all of which mean "the sack/bag man"), or el roba-chicos, meaning child-stealer. Similar legends are also very common in Eastern Europe, as well as Haiti and some countries in Asia.

El Coco

El Coco (also El Cuco and Cucuy, sometimes called El Bolo) is a monster common to many Spanish-speaking countries.

In Spain, parents will sing lullabies or tell rhymes to 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 retains its original meaning. Coconuts (Spanish: coco) received that name because their brownish hairy surface reminded Portuguese explorers of coco, a ghost with a pumpkin head. Latin America also has El Coco, although its folklore is usually quite different, commonly mixed with native beliefs, and, because of cultural contacts, sometimes more related to the bogeyman of the United States. However, the term El Coco is also used in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, although there it is more usually called El Cuco, as in Puerto Rico, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Among Mexican-Americans, El Cucuy 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/her parents or go to sleep when it is time to do so. However, 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."[8]

In Brazilian folklore, a similar character called Cuca is depicted as a female humanoid alligator. There's a famous lullaby sung by most parents to their children that says that the Cuca will come and get them if they do not sleep, just as in Spain. The Cuca is also a character of Monteiro Lobato's Sítio do Picapau Amarelo, a series of short novels written for children, which contain a large number of characters from Brazilian folklore.


In the countries of the eastern Mediterranean, children who misbehave are threatened with a creature known as "babau" (or "baubau", "baobao", "bavbav" or similar). In Italy and Romania, the Babau (in Romania, Bau-bau) is also called l'uomo nero (Romanian: omul negru) or "black man". In Italy, he is 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".[9] In Slovenia, the "Bavbav" is described as a formless spirit. In Greece and Cyprus, 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. In Egypt "al-Bu'bu'" (البعبع) is often depicted as a night creature dressed in black, who haunts children that misbehave.


In Germanic countries, the bogeyman is called the butzemann, busseman, buhman or boeman. In Germany, the bogeyman is known as the "Buhmann" or the Butzemann. The common German expression is "der schwarze Mann" (the black man in English), which refers directly to some inhuman or rather paranormal creature, which carries children away and hides in the dark corners under the bed or in the closet. The figure is part of the children's game "Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann" (Who is afraid of the boggie-man).

In Denmark, it is known as the bussemand or bøhmand. It hides under the bed and grabs children who will not sleep. Like the English, bussemand is also a slang term for nasal mucus. In Norway, he is referred to as the Busemann. In the Netherlands, the Boeman 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.

In the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, used in those areas of Pennsylvania colonized by Swiss and Germanic peoples during the eighteenth century, "der Butzemann" is the term for a male scarecrow. A female scarecrow is a "Butzefrau".

Other examples

  • AfghanistanBala or Newanay Mama, which means "The Monster or Crazy person", is used to scare children when they don't want to sleep or when they don't want to take their medicine.
  • Albania – There are two similar creatures that are used to frighten children. In the South (Vlore area), there is Katallani, that means "the Catalan." This is a collective memory of the Catalan occupation many centuries ago, from South Italy; then in the whole country, there is Gogoli, that indeed means "the Mongol" and is a collective memory of the Golden horde.
  • Algeria – A monster made up of various animal parts called H'awouahoua. It has eyes that are blobs of flaming spit,horns,snakes entwined in its hair and a coat made of the clothes of the children it eats.
  • Azerbaijan – A bogeyman-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 misbehaved. 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 who stayed up past their bedtime.
  • BelizeTata Duende is a mythical goblin described as being of small stature, has a beard, is wrinkled, lacks thumbs, has his feet backwards, and wears a large brimmed hat. It is a protector of the forests and animals and was used to scare children from going out to play at night or going into the jungle.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia, the Bogeyman is called Babaroga, baba meaning old woman and rogovi meaning horns, literally meaning old woman 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.
  • Brazil and Portugal – A monster more akin to the Bogeyman is called Bicho Papão (Eating Beast) or Sarronco (Deep-Voiced Man). A notable difference between it and the homem do saco is that the latter is a daytime menace and "Bicho Papão" is a night-time menace.
  • Bulgaria – In some villages, people used to believe that a hairy, dark, ghost-like creature called a talasam (Ta-lah-SUMM) lived in the shadows of the barn or in the attic and came out at night to scare little children. In addition, there is a city-folklore creature called Torbalan (the Bag-man) who raids during the night kidnapping children that have misbehaved.
  • Canada:
    • Quebec – in this French-speaking province of Canada, 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.
    • Newfoundland and Labrador - The "Old Hag" is a demonic entity from Newfoundland folklore. According to legend, the Old Hag appears in the bedrooms of naughty children late at night and suffocates them by sitting on their stomachs. The Old Hag then takes the children to her lair in the woods where she eats their bodies. Supposedly, the myth of the Old Hag was inspired by experiences caused by Sleep Paralysis, in which an individual would awake to the hallucination of an old woman sitting on them, cutting off their breathing.
    • Yukon - "Quankus" is a bogeyman-like creature that places naughty children in a large sock and carries them away, particularly at night. Children are typically threatened with the Quankus to encourage them to go to bed.
    • In Inuit mythology, there is a shapeshifting creature called the Ijiraq, that kidnaps children, to hide them away and abandon them. If the children can convince the Ijiraq to let them go, they can use inukshuk of stone, to find their way home. Also from Inuit Mythology there is the Qalupalik, that are human-like creatures with long fingernails, green skin and long hair,that live in the sea. They carry babies and children away in their Amauti, who disobey their parents and wander off alone. The Qalupalik adopts the children and brings them to live with them underwater.
  • Congo – In the Lingala language, the 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.
  • China – "Ou-wu" is usually described as a witch or a scary woman who kidnaps children who misbehave. It is popular among southern regions of China and places like Hong Kong. The origin of the term is a pronoun for "monster" and it is widely used as a synonym for "ugly" or "hideous" even until today.
  • Cyprus – In the Cypriot dialect, Bogeyman is called Kkullas (Κκουλλάς).
  • Czech Republic – The equivalent of the Bogeyman in the Czech Republic is bubák or strašidlo.
  • England–In Yorkshire, young children were warned that if they stole from orchards, they might be eaten by a fairy in the form of a giant caterpillar called Awd Goggie. A similar creature called The Gooseberry Wife was said to guard gooseberries on The Isle of Wight.
    • Children in Yorkshire were also warned that if they were naughty the Great Black Bird would come and carry them off.[10]
  • Egypt – The "Abu Rigl Maslukha" (ابو رجل مسلوخة), which translates to the "Man With Burnt/Skinned Leg". It is a very scary story that parents tell their children when they misbehave. The "Abu Rigl Maslukha" 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.
  • 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. - The children's game "Kuka pelkaa Mustaa Pekkaa?" ("Who's Afraid of Black Peter?") was also commonly played among children still in the 1960s and '70s, especially in urban settings, as a backyard game (see Germany's "Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann?").
  • France – The French equivalent of the Bogeyman is le croque-mitaine ("the mitten-biter" or rather "the hand-cruncher", mitaine means mitt in an informal way).[11]
  • Georgia – In addition to a "Bag Man" much similar to its namesakes from other cultures, in Georgia, a fictional creature called "Bua" is sometimes used by parents to (lightly) scare little children (up to preschool age) when misbehaving; e.g., "if you don't eat well now, Bua will come", or "do you hear Bua knocking? It asks why you don't want to go to bed". It's usually not specified what Bua looks like or what it does to children; Nevertheless, Bua can "bite you", or "take you away". It also can "steal" something: "You can't have more candies now — Bua took it". There may be an etymological link to "bu" — Georgian word for owl, which makes night sounds scary for children.
  • Germany – The Bogeyman is known as Der schwarze Mann (the black man). "Schwarz" does not refer to the colour of his skin (most Germans had never met a real black person during the time these legends developed) 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).
  • Guyana – In Guyana, the "Bogeyman" is known as a "Jumbi". It is a popular belief that he only lives in the dark. It is said that he lives in the closet and under the bed. It is used to scare children to eat their food, so they can defend themselves against him. "Jumbies" eat little boys and girls, starting with the leg, to the brains.
  • Haiti – In Haiti, there is a popular belief that a tall man, with legs two floors high, walks around the towns at midnight to catch and eat the people that stay outside. He is called Mètminwi, which seems to be a contraction of mèt (from French "maître" English "master" and minwi from French "minuit" English "midnight", hence meaning the "master of midnight").
    • Tonton Macoute or Uncle gunnysack was a Haitian bogeyman who would snare misbehaving children and eat them for breakfast. The MVSN, a secret police force of Haiti, used this myth as a tool for control as many Tonton Macoutes were Voodoo adherents.
    • Papa Doc was an alter-ego of Former Haitian President Francois Duvalier. He parlayed Haitian mythology and presented himself as Baron Samedi the Voodoo Loa of Death. His fashion was designed to enforce the mystique of his personality cult as he dressed like Baron Samdi and hid his eyes with sunglasses.
  • Hejaz, Saudi Arabiaأمنا الغولة والدوجيرة or "Dojairah and Umna al Ghola", which means "Our mother the Monster", is used to scare children when they misbehave or walk alone outside.
  • Hungary – The Hungarian equivalent of the Bogeyman is the Mumus, which is a monster-like creature, and the Zsákos Ember, a man with a sack, and this is the literal meaning of his name. A third creature is the Rézfaszú bagoly ("Copperpenis Owl"), a giant owl with a copper penis.[12]
  • Iceland – The Icelandic equivalent of the Bogeyman is Grýla, a female troll who would take misbehaving children and eat them during Christmas Eve. 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.
    • Bihar Parents use the demon name Bhakolwa for the same purpose.
    • 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 Boochodu. In central Kerala, Bogeyman is referred to as 'Kokkachi' who will 'take away' children for disobeying their parents or misbehave in any manner. Children are then at freedom to conjure up what terrible things might happen to them, once taken away by Kokkachi. In South Kerala, it is called 'Oochandi'. Among Konkani speaking people of the Western Coast of India, 'Gongo' is the Bogeyman equivalent.
    • Among Marathi language speaking people (predominantly of Maharashtra), parents threaten the misbehaving children with a male ghost called 'Bāgul Buā' (बागुल बुवा). In general, the 'Buā' is supposed to kidnap children when they misbehave or do not sleep.
    • Assamese parents ask children to go to sleep otherwise Kaan khowa would eat their ears.
  • Indonesia – In Indonesia, Wewe Gombel is a ghost that kidnaps children mistreated by their parents. She keeps the children in her nest atop an Arenga pinnata palm tree and does not harm them. She takes care of the children as a grandmother until the parents become aware of what they had done. If the parents decide to mend their ways and truly want their children back, Wewe Gombel will return them unharmed. This ghost is named Wewe Gombel because it originated in and event that took place in Bukit Gombel, Semarang.[13]
  • 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.
  • Iraq's ancient folklore has the saalua, a half-witch half-demon ghoul that "is used by parents to scare naughty children". She is briefly mentioned in a tale of the 1001 Nights, and is known in some other Gulf countries as well.[14]
  • Italy – In Italy, "L'uomo nero" (meaning 'the black man') is a demon that can appear as a black man or black ghost without legs, often used by adults for scaring their children when they don't want to sleep. In different places of the country, it's known also as "babau".[15][better source needed][16]
    • Marabbecca is a malevolent water monster from the mythology of Sicily that lived in wells and reservoirs and was said to come up and drag children that played to close, down into the water to drown.
  • JapanNamahage 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.[17]
  • KoreaDokkaebi (도깨비) is understood as a monster that appears to get misbehaving children[citation needed]. Other variations include mangtae yeonggam (망태 영감) an oldman (yeonggam) who carries a mesh sack (mangtae) to put his kidnapped children in. In some regions, mangtae yeonggam is replaced by mangtae halmeom (망태 할멈), an old woman with a mesh sack.
  • Lebanon - Children are told stories about Abu l Kees(ابو الكيس), meaning Father Sack (similar to Sack Man), who puts misbehaving children in his sack and takes them away.
  • Macedonia – Apart from babaroga, Macedonian people have a bogeyman called Strasilo ( translated means something like "frightener" because "strav" means fear/scare ) which only comes out at night, hides under beds, in forests, caves, basements ... It is said to grab and eat children ( usually bad ).
  • Malta – Kaw Kaw or Gaw Gaw, was a grey,slimy creature, that roamed the streets at night. It could smell a person's guilt and enter their homes, through cracks and fissures, by extending and contracting its snail like body. Once it was inside their rooms, it would flash them a ghastly grin, with its huge, toothless mouth, scaring them witless.
  • Mexico – There is the Robaniños ("kidnapper of kids"), a person with whom a child is warned about going out without supervision.
  • Myanmar – Children are threatened with Pashu Gaung Phyat (ပသျှူးခေါင်းဖြတ်), 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,[18] it is a mystery why Burmese use the faraway Pashus as bogeymen.
Plaque at Itum Bahal, Kathmandu showing Gurumapa
  • Nepal – In Nepali, a popular bogeyman character is the 'hau-guji'. Among the Newars, the 'Gurumapa' is a mythological ape-like creature who was supposed to enjoy devouring children. Itum Bahal of inner Kathmandu and Tinkhya open space in front of Bhadrakali temple in the centre of Kathmandu are associated with the fable of Gurumapa.[19]
  • Pakistan – A bogeyman-like creature parents refer to make children behave is called Bhoot or Jin Baba, which mean ghost and Djinn respectively.In some places it is also known as "Kathu Ki maa",
  • Panama— In Panama children are warned that if they were naughty La Tulivieja would come and get them. She was a spirit, who was cursed by God for drowning her child and transformed into a hideous monster with a pockmarked face, long and bristly hair,clawed hands, a cats body and hooved feet. She was also cursed to forever look for her drowned child.[20]
  • PhilippinesPugot (only in most Ilocano regions), Sipay, Mamu and Mumu. In Kapampangan culture it is known as the Mánguang Anak or the Child-Snatcher.
  • PolandCzarny Lud (Black Man or Black Apeman) is a monster that kidnaps badly behaving children and presumably eats them. It is referenced in a children's game of the same name, which involves one child being blindfolded, and other children trying to avoid being caught.
  • Roman Republic - The military successes of Hannibal Barca's Campaign on the Italian Peninsula during the Second Punic War had caused so much damage and distress to the Romans that mothers began to threaten their children with brutal tales of Hannibal and warnings of being taken away by Hannibal if they misbehaved, making him the Roman Bogeyman by definition.
  • Russia – Children are warned that Babayka (or Baba Yaga) will come for them at nights if they behave badly.
  • Saudi Arabia - Abu Shalawlaw (أبو شلولو) is a Bogeyman-like creature said by parents to come and eat children who are disobedient, e.g., by not going to sleep on time or completing their homework.
  • SerbiaBauk is an animal-like mythical creature in Serbian mythology. Bauk is described as hiding in dark places, holes or abandoned houses, waiting to grab, carry away and devour its victim; but it can be scared away by light and noise. It has clumsy gait (bauljanje), and its onomatopoeia is bau (Serbian pronunciation: [bau]).
  • Singapore – The locals have a similar reference to the Bogeyman, typically told to young children as "Ah Bu Neh Neh", or in some cases, "Matah", catching them when they are guilty of naughty acts. Although "Matah" actually stands for "Mata-Mata" in Malay, which means a spy or spies but is generally used by the locals as a nickname for the police.
  • SpainEl ogro (the Spanish word for ogre) is 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. El Sacamantecas ("Fat extractor" in Spanish) is a kind of bogeyman or criminal characterized by killing for human fat and has been used to scare children into behaving.
  • South Africa - The Tokoloshe. " At its least harmful a tokoloshe can be used to scare children, but its power extends . . . "
  • Sri Lanka – Among the Sinhalese people, the Gonibilla (Sinhala, translates roughly to 'sack-kidnapper') is a figure that is described as carrying away unruly children in a sack, day or night.
  • Sweden – in Sweden, there is no counterpart to the Bogeyman. The common reference to Monstret under sängen, which essentially means "the monster under the bed" refers to children's own excuses for not being able to go to sleep. Näcken and Brunnsgubben were previously used to scare children away from wells and dangerous water.
  • Switzerland – in Switzerland, the Bogeyman is called Böllima or Böögg (pron.ˈbøk) 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. In Southern Switzerland, people have the same traditions as in Italy.
  • Taiwan - Among Minnan Taiwanese, Grandmother Tiger (虎姑婆 / Hóo-koo-pô) is a figure used to scare disobedient children.[21]
  • 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".
  • TurkeyGulyabani is a gigantic, strange creature that frightens children and adults alike.
  • Ukraine - Babay, a monster who is believed to punish naughty children.
  • United Arab Emirates – Children were scared with (Om Al- Khadar wa Alleef) (أم الخضر واللّيف) which means (Mother of green and leef "bark"), which takes the appearance of a tall woman with very long hair that flows in the wind, and this name is used in the UAE and some neighboring countries like Bahrain, this Mythical creature is usually used by parents to make their children stay inside after sun set and go to sleep (scaring them with her) she was used depending on what was demanded usually after sunset/dark, This name was simply inspired by (the Palm tree) because of the scary sounds and noises that come out of it when the wind blows, also because it's high and its leaves are so long that it resembles a woman.
  • United States – 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 travelers from coming into the area. Bloody Bones, also known as Rawhead or Tommy Rawhead, is a boogeyman of the U.S. South.[22] Bloody Bones tales originated in Britain.[23] Bogeyman may be called "Boogerman" or "Boogermonster" in rural areas of the American South, and was most often used to keep young children from playing outside past dark, or wandering off in the forest. During the Corn Festival, young Cherokee males wearing caricature masks would make fun of politicians, frighten children into being good, and moreover shake their masks at young women and chase them around. Male participants in this Booger Dance were referred to as the Booger Man.[24] In some Midwestern states of the United States, the bogeyman scratches at the window. In the Pacific Northwest, he may manifest in "green fog". In other places, he hides or appears from under the bed or in the closet and tickles children when they go to sleep at night, while in others, he is a tall figure in a black hooded cloak who puts children in a sack. It is said that a wart can be transmitted to someone by the bogeyman.[25]
    • The Nalusa Falaya (long black being) of Choctaw mythology.[26]
    • Cipelahq (or Chebelakw) is a dangerous bird spirit of Wabanaki folklore, used in stories told to scare children into obeying their parents. Chebelakw has an unearthly cry and resembles a large diving owl, with only its head and talons visible. Similar monsters called Stinkini and Big Owl, were found in Seminole and Apache mythologies respectively.[27]
  • Vietnam – "Ông Ba Bị" - which means "Boogeyman" in Vietnamese
  • Zimbabwe – "tokolosh" which means short boogeyman in Shona

In modern culture

As with many ancient legends, the Bogeyman sees a rekindled popularity in modern media, including those aimed at children. Such revisited modern versions, contributing to the constant evolution of the myth, include those listed below.


  • The Laurel and Hardy film Babes In Toyland (1934; aka March of the Wooden Soldiers) depicts an army of "Bogeymen" who live in Bogeyland. In the story, Bogeyland is separated from Toyland by a crocodile-infested river situated just outside the gate of Toyland. It is a dark, cavernous place, where twisted cypress trees grow, and many stalactites and stalagmites protrude from its rocky landscape. Citizens of Toyland who commit serious crimes are banished to Bogeyland. Those banished to Bogeyland never return; they are inevitably eaten alive by the bogeymen. The miserly Silas Barnaby (a character based on the English nursery rhyme "There Was A Crooked Man") has a secret tunnel to Bogeyland at the bottom of his well. In the climax of the film, Barnaby leads an army of bogeymen out of Bogeyland in an attempt to conquer Toyland, but is thwarted by Toyland's army of wooden soldiers
  • Michael Myers from the film Halloween (1978) was referenced through the film as a "Boogeyman" of sorts.
  • Several horror movies since 1980.
  • Oogie Boogie, the antagonist of Tim Burton's animated movie The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), is the Bogeyman of folklore in the town of Halloween. He is also literally a burlap sack-man later to be revealed as a mere earwig controlling a colossal mass of insects and snakes. Faithful to his pun name, he loves to boogie in classic musical comedy style and in some of the tie-in videogames.
  • In the Disney Channel Original Movie Don't Look Under the Bed, imaginary friends help children until they outgrow them. But if a child stops believing in them before that time, that imaginary friend warps and turns into a Boogeyman (or a "Boogey Person"). They then go on a rampage to torment the child they belonged to.
  • The antagonist of the DreamWorks Animation film Rise of the Guardians (2012) is a dark spirit named Pitch Black, who describes himself as the Boogeyman, and derives his power from giving children nightmares. Pitch seeks revenge on the Guardians (Santa Claus "North", Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Sandman) as well as the Man in the Moon for putting the Guardians in their place and making the children not believe/fear him. He can use a fear touch to turn light dream sand into dark sand and can conjure Nightmares that resemble monstrous animals like a horse, bat, and wolf. The Boogeyman tries to make the belief of kids in the Guardians go out and recruit Jack Frost join him, but is defeated by young child's beliefs and his own nightmares.
  • The horror film Sinister (2012) and its sequel features a Bogeyman-inspired antagonist known as Bughuul, a pagan Babylonian deity who consumes the souls of children.
  • The titular character from the action film, John Wick (2014) is nicknamed "Baba Yaga" and referred to as "The Boogeyman."


  • The Discworld (1995) video game, based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, has a bogeyman at the heart of one of the quest missions. He is only ever shown as green scraggly acromegalic arms and legs appearing behind the door where he lurks. At least two bogeymen are shown within the book series itself, one with an ironic agrophobia.
  • One of the major villains of Silent Hill: Downpour (2012) is a being simply referred to as the "Bogeyman", a humanoid being who wears a raincoat and a gas mask, and carries around a pole with a cinder block attached at the end. The face of the Boogeyman appears to be whatever it is the person viewing him sees as their personal fear.
  • The antagonist of the isometric 2D platformer video game Swagman is a scraggly scarecrow-like bogeyman, lord of the Nightmare Realm, who's attempting to become master of both dreams and the real world by keeping all living creatures imprisoned in sleep. The game characters are children and gameplay comprises common juvenile misbehavior: staying up past bedtime, throwing cherry bombs indoors, collecting insects in jars, etc.
  • The Boogeyman is a common enemy in the ToeJam & Earl video game series.
  • The Bogeyman appears as a midboss in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, featuring the ability to go invisible and split into two enemies. He is defeated by hitting him with light, which makes him vulnerable.
  • In part of King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, The Boogeyman is running rampant across the macabre-themed "Ooga Booga Land", and can capture the player if they do not run away when he appears on screen.
  • The Animatronics in the "Five Nights at Freddy's" series have close resemblance to the Bogeyman, as stated in an episode of "The Game Theorists" show "Culture Shock".
  • The Bogeyman appears in the game Bogeyman as an antagonist/demon overlord that is only frightened by a flashlight.
  • Introduced in the fourth generation of the Pokémon franchise, the Pitch Black Pokémon Darkrai is loosely based on nightmare gods, most notably the Boogeyman, due to its dark appearance, shadowy abilities, and natural power to induce terrible dreams in other creatures.
  • Downloadable content for the 2015 video game Rise of the Tomb Raider features Baba Yaga as the main antagonist to Lara Croft



  • The bogeyman is the subject of the song "Boogie Woogie Wu" by rap group Insane Clown Posse
  • It was also the subject of the song "The Boogieman" by rapper Tech N9ne
  • The metal group, King 810, has a song called "boogeymen" and singer David Gunn refers to himself as the Bogeyman in several songs.
  • "Hush, Hush, Hush, (Here Comes The Bogeyman)" by Henry Hall teaches a myriad of ways to scare off the Bogeyman.
  • The idea of the Bogeyman and other such superstitions are constantly referred to in Willy Russell's musical Blood Brothers.
  • The animated band Gorillaz often shows a character named the Boogieman in their music videos. The Boogieman is a major villain in the band, mainly in the album Plastic Beach. This character is similar to the Bogeyman, and his name is a musical play on words. He is the essence of everything bad in the universe, and hunts the band down often.



  • A friendly "Boogity Man" appears in Bobby's World to haunt Bobby Generic's nightmares. He appears as an elderly man (bearing a slight resemblance to a vampire) with an accordion and cheerfully declares "I'm the Boogity Man, let's boogie", preparing to play a polka most likely. Regardless, Bobby is terrified of him (likely this was done to play on popular conception of polka and accordions being widely disliked).
  • The Bogeyman was a recurring character in the later seasons of the cartoon show The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
  • In Helix: "Survivor Zero" (season 1, episode 7), Anana, an Inuit policewoman whose brother Miksa went missing when they were children and who is investigating the Arctic biostation as the possible location where 31 stolen children were taken, tells Sergio Ballesaros she and other children were cautioned to stay near their people's hunting sites, lest the Qalupalik steal them; she likens the Qalupalik to the bogeyman. Sergio, in turn, confides that children from the favelas in his hometown, Espírito Santo, Brazil, also went missing and implied he was one of them.
  • In an episode[which?][when?] of Hey Vern, It's Ernest!, Ernest P. Worrell tries to catch the Boogeyman in the dark corners of Vern's house after reading a ghost story.
  • Another parodic "Boogie Man" appears in the Powerpuff Girls episode "Boogie Frights" (1998). He is a mix of monster, disco dancer and caricatural jive talking pimp.
  • Yet another "Boogie Man" appears in the Mother Goose and Grimm episode "The Boogie Man". He terrorizes Grimmy in a nightmare, as Mother Goose warned him would happen, after Grimmy eats garbage.
  • The Boogeyman was a main antagonist in two episodes of the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. In the show, he was powered by the fear of children. The Bogeyman could only cross into the real world through specific closets from his home dimension. As a child, Egon was tormented by the Bogeyman, which led to him investigating the paranormal and becoming a Ghostbuster.
  • The Outer Limits (1995 TV series) - Season 1 Episode 11 - Under the Bed - the whole episode is about a Bogeyman.
  • The Simpsons Episode $pringfield features a scene in which Homer reacts with genuine, gun-toting fear upon hearing about his daughter's dream concerning a boogieman.

See also

Notes and references

  1. Safire, William (1 February 2004). "Bogeyman or boogeyman? If mispronounced, he's gonna getcha!". New York Times News Service. Taipei Times. Retrieved 25 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary bug
  3. 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)
  4. Harper, Douglas. "bugbear". Online Etymology Dictionary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Harper, Douglas. "bugaboo". Online Etymology Dictionary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Auchard, John (2007-01-28). "In Indonesia". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-10-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Buginese of Sulawesi". Retrieved 2007-10-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "El cucuy has roots deep in border folklore" Archived December 6, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Ninna Nanna, Ninna oh".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "TheRaven's Aviary - Folklore and Superstition".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Edouard Brasey, L'encyclopédie du merveilleux, T3 : Des peuples de l'ombre, Le Pré aux Clercs, 2006, pp. 14–16.
  12. Makra, Sándor (1988). A mágia. Magvető.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Desember - 2011 - mariapriskamarvina".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. ‘Ghoul’ re-emerges in Iraq. Sep 5, 2013 news article.
  15. Tidona, Carmelo Massimo. "L'Uomo Nero (Boogeyman)". Retrieved 13 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. olmis. "Stampalibera - Home".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 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
  18. Soldiers of Fortune, TIME Asia
  19. Slusser, Mary Shepherd (1982). Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691031282, 9780691031286. Page 364.
  20. "Read Spanish Language Articles to Help You Learn Spanish".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 虎姑婆, 28-05-2016
  22. Frederic Gomes Cassidy, Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English, Harvard University Press, 1985.
  23. Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, London:H. Milford, 1913.
  24. Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery, Friends "The Meaning behind the Booger Dance Masks", by Dr. R. Michael Abram.
  25. McNab, Chris(Chris McNab). Ancient Legends/Folklore. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2007. (ISBN 0-439-85479-2)
  26. "Nalusa Falaya (Long Black Being), monstrous giant of the Choctaw".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Cipelahq (Chebelakw)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links