This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for suggestions. (August 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message) Some of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. Please help improve this article by looking for better, more reliable sources. Unreliable citations may be challenged and removed. (August 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message) This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Bogeyman" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Goya's Que viene el Coco' ("Here Comes the Boogeyman / The Boogeyman is Coming"), c. 1797

The bogeyman (/ˈbɡimæn/; also spelled or known as bogyman,[1] bogy,[1] bogey,[1] and, in North American English, also boogeyman)[1] is a mythical creature used by adults to frighten children into good behaviour. Bogeymen have no specific appearances and conceptions vary drastically by household and culture, but they are most commonly depicted as masculine or androgynous monsters that punish children for misbehaviour.[2] The bogeyman, and conceptually similar monsters can be found in many cultures around the world. Bogeymen may target a specific act or general misbehaviour, depending on the purpose of invoking the figure, often on the basis of a warning from an authority figure to a child. The term is sometimes used as a non-specific personification of, or metonym for, terror, and sometimes the Devil.[3]


The word bogeyman, used to describe a monster in English, comes from Middle English bugge or bogge, which means 'frightening spectre'. Bogeyman itself is known from the 15th century, though bogeyman stories are almost certainly much older.[4] It may derive from Middle English bogge or bugge, meaning a 'terror' or 'scarecrow'. It relates to boggart, bugbear (from bug, meaning 'goblin' or 'scarecrow') and bear (an imaginary demon in the form of a bear that ate small children). It was also used to mean a general object of dread. The word bugaboo, with a similar pair of meanings, may have arisen as an alteration of bugbear.[5]

The word has equivalents in many European languages as bogle (Scots), púca, pooka or pookha (Irish), pwca, bwga or bwgan (Welsh), bucca (Cornish), buse or busemann (Norwegian), puki (Old Norse), bøhmand or bussemand (Danish), bûzeman (Western Frisian), boeman (Dutch), boeboelaas (Surinamese Dutch), Butzemann (German), bòcan, *bogu (Slavonic)[citation needed], buka, Babay/Babayka, búka (Russian), bauk (Serbian), bubulis (Latvian), baubas (Lithuanian), bobo (Polish), buba/gogol (Albanian), bubák (Czech), bubák (Slovak), bebok (Silesian),[6] papão (Portuguese), bampoúlas (Greek), bua (Georgian),[citation needed] babau (Italian), babáj (Ukrainian),[citation needed] baubau (Romanian), papu (Catalan), and mumus (Hungarian).

Physical description and personality

Descriptions of the bogeyman may vary across cultures, yet there are often commonalities between them. These may include having claws/talons, or sharp teeth. The nature of the creature also varies from culture to culture, although most examples are said to be a kind of spirit, with demons, witches, and other legendary creatures being less common variants. Some are described as having certain animal features such as horns, hooves, and buglike appearances.[7][unreliable source?]

The personality traits of bogeymen most easily divide the species into three categories: the kind that punishes misbehaving children, the kind that is more prone to violence, and the kind that protects the innocent. They all operate in the same way, in that they all exist to teach young children lessons. The large majority of bogeymen just function to frighten children with potential punishments, and not actually to inflict much damage. The more vicious bogeyman is said to steal the children at night, and even to eat them, or to commit some other violence. The last category is the bogeyman who protects people and only punishes those guilty, regardless of age.[7][unreliable source?]

Other putative origins

Because of the myth’s global prevalence, it is difficult to find the original source of the legends. The Bogeyman was first referenced for the hobgoblins described in the 16th century England. Many believed that they were made to torment humans, and while some only played simple pranks, others were more foul in nature.[7][unreliable source?]

Cultural variants

Bogeymen, or bogeyman-like beings, are common to the folklore of many cultures, with numerous variations and equivalents.

Sack Man

Main article: Sack Man

A variant called the Sack Man exists in many Latin American cultures, such as those of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, as well as in both Portugal and Spain. He is variously referred to as el Hombre del costal, el hombre de la bolsa, el hombre del saco, or in Portuguese, o homem do saco, all of these names meaning "the sack man" or "the bag man". Another Spanish language variation is el roba-chicos, meaning "child-stealer". Similar legends are present in Eastern Europe (e.g. Bulgarian Torbalan, "sack man"), as well as in Haiti and some countries in Asia.[8][failed verification]

El Coco

Main article: Coco (folklore)

El Coco (also El Cuco and Cucuy, sometimes called El Bolo) is a monster common to many Spanish-speaking countries. The Cuca Fera [ca] (or Cucafera) monster is the equivalent in certain parts of Catalonia.

In Spain, parents will sing lullabies or tell rhymes to children, warning them that if they do not sleep, El Coco will come to get them. The rhyme originated in the 17th century and has evolved over the years, but still retains its original meaning. Coconuts (Spanish: coco) received that name because the hairy, brown "face" created by the coconut shell's three indentations reminded the Portuguese sailors of "Coco".

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 boogeyman 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, and Venezuela, although there it is more usually called El Cuco, as in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay, Panama and Argentina. Among Mexican-Americans, El Cucuy is portrayed as an evil monster that hides under children's beds 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."[9]

A Cuca

Main article: Cuca (folklore)

In Brazilian folklore, a similar character called Cuca is depicted as a female humanoid alligator, or an old lady with a sack. There is a lullaby sung by many parents to their children that says that the Cuca will come to get them and make a soup, or soap out of them if they do not sleep, just as in Spain. The Cuca is also a character of Monteiro Lobato's Sítio do Picapau Amarelo ("Yellow Woodpecker's Farm"), a series of short novels written for children which contain a large number of characters from Brazilian folklore.[10]


"Babau" redirects here. For other uses, see Babau (disambiguation).

In the countries of central and Eastern Mediterranean, children who misbehave are threatened with a creature known as "babau" (or "baubau", "baobao", "bavbav", or بعبع "Bu'Bu'" or similar). In Italy, the Babau is also called l'uomo nero 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 say something like: "Here comes l'uomo nero! He must know that there's a child here who doesn't want to drink his soup!". It is also featured in a widespread nursery rhyme in Italy: "Ninna nanna, ninna oh, questo bimbo a chi lo do? Lo darò all' uomo nero, che lo tiene un anno intero." (English: "Lullaby Lulla Oh, who do I give this child to? I will give him to the Boogeyman, who's going to keep him for a whole year") L'uomo nero is not supposed to eat or harm children, but instead takes them away to a mysterious and frightening place.[11][unreliable source?]


German folklore has dozens of different figures that correspond to the Bogeyman. These have various appearances (such as of a gnome, man, animal, monster, ghost or devil). They are sometimes said to appear at very specific places (such as in forests, at bodies of water, cliffs, cornfields or vineyards). These figures are called by many different names, which are often only regionally known. One of these, possibly etymologically related to the Bogeyman, is the Butzemann [de], which can be of gnome-like and other demonic or ghostly appearance.[12][unreliable source?] Other examples include the Buhmann (who is mostly proverbial) and der schwarze Mann ("The Black Man"),[13][verification needed] an inhuman creature which hides in the dark corners under the bed or in the closet and carries children away. The figure is part of the children's game Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann? ("Who is afraid of the bogeyman?").

Other examples

German game Der schwarze Mann, Philadelphia 1907.
Plaque at Itum Bahal, Kathmandu showing Gurumapa

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Definition of bogeyman noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary". Oxford Learner's Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  2. ^ Shimabukuro, Karra (2014). "The Bogeyman of Your Nightmares: Freddy Krueger's Folkloric Roots". Studies in Popular Culture. 36 (2). Popular Culture Association in the South: 45–65. JSTOR 24332650 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ D'Costa, Krystal. "What's the Bogeyman?". Scientific American Blog Network.
  4. ^ "Bogeyman | Origin, Definition, & Synonyms | Britannica". February 2024.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas (23 August 2017). "bugbear | Etymology, origin, and meaning of bugbear by etymonline". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  6. ^ Cooper, Brian (4 March 2005). "Lexical reflections inspired by Slavonic * bog: English bogey from a Slavonic root?". Transactions of the Philological Society. 103 (1): 73–97. doi:10.1111/j.1467-968X.2004.00145.x. eISSN 1467-968X. Retrieved 10 August 2023 – via Wiley Online Library.
  7. ^ a b c Geller (8 July 2018). "Bogeyman (Boogeyman or Boogie Man): Mythical Monster". Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  8. ^ Sörenssen, Federico Ayala (September 24, 2014). "El verdadero "Hombre del Saco" –" [The true "Sack Man"]. ABCfoto (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  9. ^ Garcia, Kevin (31 October 2005). "El cucuy has roots deep in border folklore". The Brownsville Herald. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2005.
  10. ^ Núñez, Eloy Martos (2004). "LA IMAGEN DEL JOVEN A TRAVÉS DE LAS FICCIONES DE TERROR Y SUS FUENTES FOLKLÓRICO-LITERARIAS. EL CASO IBEROAMERICANO" (PDF). Alonso Quijano Foundation (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  11. ^ "Ninna Nanna, Ninna oh". Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  12. ^ Palace, Steve (1 September 2018). "Who's Afraid of the Boogeyman? How Different Countries View Childhood Monsters". The Vintage News. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  13. ^ Iseabail MacLeod, Pauline Cairns: Bogeyman – Black Man. Concise English-Scots Dictionary, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 1999, ISBN 9781902930046, p.22.
  14. ^ a b Mills, Margaret; Claus, Peter; Diamond, Sarah, eds. (2003). South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Taylor & Francis (published 28 October 2020). doi:10.4324/9781003061717. ISBN 9781003061717. OL 37318120M. S2CID 126524265.
  15. ^ Elsie, Robert (2001). A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology, and Folk Culture. New York University Press. p. 48. ISBN 9780814722145.
  16. ^ Elsie (2001). p. 103.
  17. ^ Elsie (2001). p. 161.
  18. ^ "Children's Folklore: Jirtdan". Azerbaijan International. 4 (3): 76–77. 1996.
  19. ^ Nuñez, Angel. ""El Duende"- San Pedro Folklore". Ambergris Caye. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Seignovert, Romain (January 13, 2019). "European Monsters". Europe Is Not Dead!. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  21. ^ "Ijiraq". The Mythical Creatures Catalogue. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  22. ^ "Qalupalik". Astonishing Legends. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  23. ^ "Polednice by K. J. Erben, translated by S. Reynolds". 17 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Saint Nicholas Day (Mikuláš)".
  25. ^ Pursiful, Darrell J (25 April 2014). "Boo! Five Bogeymen to Run Away From". Into the Wonder. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  26. ^ Bane, Theresa (18 September 2013). Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology. McFarland. pp. 40–41. ISBN 9780786471119.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g Wright, Elizabeth Mary (1913). Rustic Speech and Folk-lore. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781503314290.
  28. ^ Sherman, Josepha (26 March 2015) [2008]. Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Mythology and Folklore (Collected ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 382. ISBN 9781317459385.
  29. ^ "TheRaven's Aviary". 24 October 1998. Archived from the original on 8 May 1999. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  30. ^ Matthews, John (14 October 2016). The Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack: From Victorian Legend to Steampunk Hero. Inner Traditions. ISBN 9781620554975.
  31. ^ Dixon, Kevin (19 April 2018). "Spring-Heel Jack terrifies Torquay". We Are South Devon. Griffiths Networking. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  32. ^ a b Briggs, Katharine Mary (1976). An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures. Pantheon Books. ISBN 9780394409184.
  33. ^ Billson, Charles James, ed. (1895). "Leicestershire and Rutland". County Folk-Lore. 1: 4–9, 76–77.
  34. ^ Wright (1913), pp. 198–9.
  35. ^ Wright (1913), p. 202.
  36. ^ Brasey, Édouard (14 March 2010). L'encyclopédie des héros du merveilleux (in French). edi8. pp. 14–16. ISBN 9782842283988.
  37. ^ Yannucci, Lisa. "Es tanzt ein Bi-Ba-Butzemann". Mama Lisa's World – International Music & Culture. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  38. ^ Jordan, John-Erik (11 October 2022). "15 Terrifying Boogeymen From Around The World". Babbel Magazine. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  39. ^ Makra, Sandor (1988). A mágia (in Hungarian) (2007 ed.). Magvető. p. 251. ISBN 9789631413076.
  40. ^ Ragnarsdóttir, Regína Hrönn. "Grýla and Leppalúði – the Parents of the Icelandic Yule Lads". Guide to Iceland. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  41. ^ olmis. "Stampalibera – Home".
  42. ^ Slusser, Mary Shepherd (1982). Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. Vol. 1. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 364. ISBN 0691031282.
  43. ^; GmbH, Lesson Nine. "15 Terrifying Boogeymen From Around The World". Babbel Magazine. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  44. ^ Yegorov, Oleg (14 July 2017). "Russian boogeymen: How did parents scare their children?". Russia Beyond. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  45. ^ Briggs (1976), pp. 115–116.
  46. ^ "Causing mischief and scaring children". 2023-08-01. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  47. ^ Yankah, Kwesi; Peek, Philip M, eds. (2004). African Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 202. ISBN 9781135948733.
  48. ^ Carazo, Carme Oriol; Prunera, Emili Samper, eds. (14 December 2017). Història de la literatura popular catalana [History of Catalan Folk Literature] (in Catalan). University of Alicante. p. 446. ISBN 9788484246688. OL 47345482M.
  49. ^ "教育部臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典-教育部臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典". (in Chinese). Retrieved 2023-08-10.
  50. ^ "Zimwi la Mrima – Mkuki Na Nyota Publishers".
  51. ^ Abram, Dr. R. Micheal (2012-07-22). "Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery". Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  52. ^ Coleman, Loren and Clark, Jerome (1999). Cryptozoology A to Z. Simon & Schuster. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-684-85602-6.
  53. ^ Cassidy, Frederic G; Hall, Joan Houston, eds. (1985). Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. 1 (1985 ed.). Belknap Press. p. 290. ISBN 9780674205116.
  54. ^ Poole, Scott (17 October 2014). "Bloody Bones: A History of Southern Scares". Deep South Magazine. Deep South Media. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  55. ^ Lewis, Orrin. "Nalusa Falaya (Long Black Being)". Native Languages of the Americas. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  56. ^ Lewis, Orrin. "Cipelahq (Chebelakw)". Native Languages of the Americas. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  57. ^ "Truy tìm nguồn gốc ông Ba Bị chuyên được lấy ra để dọa nạt trẻ con". (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 10 August 2023.