, boogey monster
, or boogeyman
, is a folkloric
or legendary ghostlike monster
often believed in by children
. 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 bogies.
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 United States, 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. Bogeymen may be said to target a specific mischief – for instance, a bogeyman that punishes children who suck their thumbs – or general misbehavior.
Origin of the word
The word bogey is most likely 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; 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).
Other purported origins
In Southeast Asia the term is commonly accepted to refer to Bugis or Buganese 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 have been commonly used centuries before European colonisation of Southeast Asia and it is therefore unlikely that the Bugis would have been commonly known to westerners during that time. Another theory is that in 17th century England which at the time was plagued by slave traders raiding the coasts of Devon and Cornwall by Barbary pirates, from which one of the ports they sailed from was Boujaya (French Bougie) in present day Algeria. Hence the phrase 'The Boogey man will get you'.
Analogues in other cultures
Bogeyman-like beings are nearly universal; common to folklore in many disparate countries.
- Azerbaijan - A boogeyman-like creature parents refer to make children behave is called khokhan ("xoxan").
- 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 bum, or a hobo, 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 daily menace and "Bicho Papão" is a bed time (nightly) 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.
- 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. 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 the Busemannen
- 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").
- 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 color of 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?).
- Greece - in Greece the equivalent of the Bogeyman is known as Baboulas (Μπαμπούλας). Most of the times he is said to be hiding under the bed, although it is used by the parents in a variety of ways.
- Haiti - in Haiti, the Boogeyman 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 patois is Tonton Macoute.
- Hungary - "Mumus" , the expression is often used to frighten kids when they do something wrong or just to have them fear something, usually the expression is used in the following context "the Mumus will take you away".
- 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 the state of Tamil Nadu, children are often mock threatened with the Rettai Kannan (the two-eyed one) or Poochaandi. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the equivalent of bogeyman is Buchadu.
- Iran - In Persian culture, children who misbehave might 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"), 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 month".
- 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.
- Korea - In Gyungsang province, Kokemi (꼬깨미) 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.
- Netherlands - Boeman
- Philippines - Pugot (only in most Ilocano regions), Mamu and Mumu
- 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.
- Russia and Ukraine- usually said to be hiding under the bed, babay ("бабай") 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. The eastern part of Ukraine has babay as well, possibly due to Russian influence.
- Slovenia The Slovenian Bogeyman is called Bavbav. It doesn't have a particular shape or form. Many times it isn't even defined as a man or anything human. It can be thought of as a kind of sprite or spirit although the word "spirit" also doesn't give it justice.
- Spain and Mexico- The Spanish Bogeyman is known as El Cuco, or, more often in Spain, El Coco (also named in some parts of Spain as El Ogro), a shapeless figure, sometimes a hairy monster, that 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 don't 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. The term is also used in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. In the Mexican-American community the creature is known as "El cucuy". Social sciences professor Manuel Medrano said popular legend describes 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. The aforementioned Brazilian "Bag Man" also exists here 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.
- Sri Lanka - Goni Billa - A scary man carrying a sack to capture and keep children. Elders use him for kids who refused to behave well.
- Sweden - in Sweden the Bogeyman is referred to either as Monstret under sängen which essentially means "the monster under the bed", or Svarta mannen; "the Black man".
- Switzerland - in Switzerland the Bogeyman is called 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 there is an old lullaby about a creature called Dunganga, who puts misbehaving children in its basket and takes them back to its cave to be eaten.
- 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.
In popular culture
Popular portrayals of bogeymen include Raymond Briggs
' Fungus the Bogeyman
. The 1934 film Babes in Toyland
based on Victor Herbert
's 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland
, portrays criminals exiled to Bogeyland
. The Bogeymen are described as "horrible creatures; with hair all over their body and great big teeth where they eat you alive".
American rock band Aerosmith recorded a Grammy-nominated instrumental song entitled "Boogie Man" on their 1993 album Get a Grip.
Classic rock band AC/DC recorded a song entitled "Boogie Man" for their 1995 album Ballbreaker.
Canadian Thrash band Annihilator debuted with an album titled Alice in Hell, the opening track is about the story of a girl driven insane through fear of "the bogey man".
The Boogeyman is a short story by Stephen King, in which a man attempts to get himself committed to an asylum after his family is murdered by the Boogeyman.
"The Bogeyman" was a recurring villain in the successful 1980s children's cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters.
Boogeyman is the title of a title of a 2005 film about a man who's father was taken by the Boogeyman before his eyes. A second Boogeyman film was released in 2008.
In 1999 Disney's TV Movie Don't Look Under the Bed, the main character, Frances Bacon, is framed for a series of practical jokes by the Bogeyman. She gets help from an imaginary friend named Larry.
In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the bogeyman is called Oogie Boogie, an animated sack of bugs who enjoys gambling.
In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, bogeymen are depicted as tall, rangy, hairy beings who are vaguely apish. They hide under beds, behind doors, and in closets, for no reason anyone can understand. The first bogeyman says that they protect the children from evil things. Bad ones can easily be defeated by putting a blanket over their head.
A renowned reference of the Bogeyman in popular fiction is shown in the 1978 Horror hit Halloween. At the end of the movie, when the famous psychopath Michael Myers is shot and falls off a balcony, one of the characters asks: "Was that the...Boogeyman?" to which her saviour Dr. Loomis replies "As a matter of fact... it was"
The film Monsters Inc. portrays bogeymen as workers for their local power-utility company, who harvest children's screams as a source of power.
In The Simpsons episode "$pringfield", when Lisa wakes from a bad dream of the boogeyman, a gun-toting Homer hides himself and the children behind a mattress in terror, shooting from his cover at anything he thinks might be the boogeyman (or boogeymen).
The boogeyman is a minor character in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
The Boogieman makes an appearance in The Powerpuff Girls as the disco dancing ruler of darkness, who temporarily managed to blot out the sun with an enormous disco ball.
WWE wrestler Marty Wright uses a Boogeyman gimmick.
Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse recorded a song called "Boogie Woogie Wu" which was about a clown that sneaks into children's bedrooms at night and kills them.
They also mention "Little Jimmy" who was a kid who used to always make fun of them for being nerds.
J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter stories feature a creature called a boggart, based on an English version of the bogeyman, which is able to change its appearance into whatever the person discovering it fears most.
In the popular action novel series by Jeff Smith, Bone, the baby rat creature named Bartleby spoke of a monster called the Jekk, that was said to grab the rat creatures by their tails in the night and drag them away. Phoney Bone then compared it to the Boogeyman.
The Boogeyman is Monster in My Pocket #112.
The cartoon series Freakazoid featured a bogeyman named Candle Jack who abducted anyone who said his name.
"The Boogie Man" is a song included on St. Elsewere, a Gnarls Barkley album.
On the TV show Seinfeld Elaine calls the Bogeyman the "Boogedy" man
On the TV show Charmed, Phoebe Halliwell has a fear of a woogyman who is actually a shadow demon.
In the roleplaying game Little Fears, the Bogeyman is the King of Greed, one of the Seven Kings of Closetland.
Developer Double Helix and popular game publisher Konami have formally identified the popular character known as Pyramid Head (a.k.a., Red Pyramid Head) as the "Bogeyman" in the next generation console release game Silent Hill: Homecoming .