Bogeyman

Goya's "Here Comes the Bogey-Man" (Aquí viene el Coco) c.1797

A bogeyman (also spelled bogieman, boogeyman or boogieman) is an amorphous imaginary being used by adults to frighten children into behaving. The 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 misbehavior, depending on what purpose needs serving. In some cases, the bogeyman is a nickname for the devil.

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 or appears from 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]

Contents

Etymology

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: bogle (Scots), boeman (Dutch), buse (Nynorsk), bøhmand (Danish), 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, бука), baubas (Lithuanian), baubau (Romanian), babau (Italian), bobo (Polish).[2]

Other putative origins

In Southeast Asia, the term is commonly accepted to refer to Bugis[3] or Buganese[4] 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.

Analogues in other cultures

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

Sack Man

In many countries, a bogeyman-like creature 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 Spain, Portugal, Brazil and the countries of Spanish America, where it referred to as el "Hombre de la Bolsa", el hombre del saco, or in Portuguese, o homem do saco (all of which mean "the sack man"). Similar legends are also very common in Eastern Europe, as well as Haiti and some countries in Asia.

In Spain, el hombre del saco is usually depicted as a mean and impossibly ugly and skinny old man who eats the misbehaving children he collects. In Brazil, o homem do saco 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. 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. In Honduras, misbehaving children fear "El Roba Chicos", or child-snatcher, which is very similar to "Hombre del Saco".

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.[citation needed]

In Armenia and Georgia, children are threatened by the "Bag Man" who carries a bag and kidnaps those who don't behave. 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. He can be seen as the antipode of the Christmas figure Dyado Koleda (Bulgarian: Дядо Коледа; corresponding to Father Christmas). Usually, he is known to children as the family partner of Baba Yaga although this is based on folklore analogy. In Hungary, the local bogeyman, the mumus, is known as zsákos ember, literally the person with a sack" (in which he takes away children). He is often mentioned together with the "rézfaszú bagoly" (literally meaning "copper-penis owl"); as in "The mumus/rézfaszú bagoly will take you away".

In Turkey, Öcü (less often called Böcü) is a scary creature carrying a sack to capture and keep children. In the Czech Republic, Silesia and Great Poland, children are frightened by the Bubak (in Polish, bebok, babok, or bobok) or hastrman (Bugbear, scarecrow, respectively) who is also portrayed as a man with a sack. 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 Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, 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, usually hiding under the bed, and that it will take them away if they misbehave (though he is sometimes depicted as having no set appearance). In the Netherlands, Zwarte Piet (Dutch for "Black Pete") is a servant of Sinterklaas, who delivers bags of presents on the 5th of December and takes naugthy kids back in the now-empty bags. In some stories, the Zwarte Piets themselves were kidnapped as kids, and the kidnapped kids make up the next generation of Zwarte Piets.

In Haiti, the Tonton Macoute (Haitian creole for "Uncle Gunnysack") is a giant, and a counterpart of Father Christmas, renowned for abducting bad children by putting them in his knapsack. During the dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier, certain Haitian secret policemen were given the name Tontons Macoutes ("Uncle-Gunnysacks") because they were said also to make people disappear.[5]

In North India, children are sometimes threatened with the Bori Baba or "Father Sack" who carries a sack in which he places children he captures. A similar being, "Abu Kees" (ابو كيس), literally "The Man with a Bag", appears in Lebanon. In Vietnam, misbehaving children are told that ông ba bị (in the North - literally mister-three-bags) or ông kẹ (in the South) will come in the night and take them away. In Sri Lanka, elders frighten misbehaving children with Goni Billa, a scary man carrying a sack to capture and keep children. In the Western Cape folklore of South Africa, Antjie Somers is a Bogeyman who catches naughty children in a bag slung over his shoulder. Although the name is that of a female, Antjie Somers is traditionally a male figure (often an escaped slave who fled persecution by cross-dressing).

Cuco

El Cuco, (also El Coco 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 Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Chile and Uruguay, although there it is more usually called El Cuco, as in Puerto Rico. In Mexico and 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."[6]

In Brazilian folklore, a similar character called Cuca is despicted 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.

On the children's TV program Sesame Street, the character of Grover was named 'Coco' in the Spanish version.

Babau

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 the 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".[7] 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 that is dressed in black, who haunts children that misbehave.

Butzemann

In Germanic countries, the bogeyman is called the buztemann, busseman, buhman or boemand. In Germany the bogeyman is known as the "Buhmann" or the Butzemann. In Denmark it 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. 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 colonised by Swiss and Germanic peoples during the eighteenth century, "der Butzemann" is the term for a male scarecrow. A female scarecrow is a "Butzefraa" (Fraa dialect for Frau (woman)).

Other examples

  • 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 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 monster more akin to the Bogeyman is called Bicho Papão (Eating Beast). A notable difference between it and the homem do saco is that the latter is a diurnal menace and "Bicho Papão" is a bed-time nocturnal 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.
  • 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.
  • Cyprus - In the Cypriot dialect Bogeyman is called Kkullas (Κκουλλάς).
  • Egypt - The "Abu Rigl Maslukha" (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 "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.
  • 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).[8]
  • 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)
  • Georgia - "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. There may be an etymological link to "bu" - Georgian word for owl, which makes night sounds scary for children.
  • Haiti-In Haiti there is a popular belief that a tall man, with legs 2 floors high that 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" englsh "midnight", hence meaning the "master of midnight").
  • Iceland - The Icelandic equivalent of the Bogeyman is Grýla, a female troll who would take misbehaving children and eat them druing 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.
    • 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 'Kokkayi' 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 Kokkayi. In South Kerala, it is called 'Oochandi'.
    • Among Marathi language speaking people (predominantly of Maharashtra), parents threaten the misbehaving children with a male ghost called 'Buva' (बुवा). In general the 'Buva' 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. The Itum-baha of inner Kathmandu and Tinkhya open space in front of Bhadrakali temple in the centre of Kathmandu are associated with the fable of Gurumapa.
  • Pakistan - A bogeyman-like creature parents refer to make children behave is called Bhoot or Jin Baba.
  • Philippines - Pugot (only in most Ilocano regions), Sipay, Mamu and Mumu. In Kapampangan culture it is known as the Mánguang Anak 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.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia 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.
  • Spain- El 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.
  • 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 (pron.'bøk) 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.[11] Bloody Bones tales originated in Britain.[12] 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 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.

References

Notes
  1. ^ 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. ^ Auchard, John (2007-01-28). "In Indonesia". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/26/AR2007012600613.html. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  4. ^ "The Buginese of Sulawesi". http://www.on-the-edge.com/articles/raja_ampat.php. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  5. ^ The Tonton Macoutes: The Central Nervous System of Haiti’s Reign of Terror. Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)
  6. ^ "El cucuy has roots deep in border folklore"[dead link]
  7. ^ Filastrocche.it
  8. ^ Edouard Brasey, L'encyclopédie du merveilleux, T3 : Des peuples de l'ombre, Le Pré aux Clercs, 2006, pp. 14-16.
  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. ^ Frederic Gomes Cassidy, Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English, Harvard University Press, 1985.
  12. ^ Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, London:H. Milford, 1913.


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  • Bogeyman — Bo gey*man, n.; pl. {Bogeymen}. A goblin; a bugbear; a {bogey[1]}. This is the form used by parents to frighten children; as, if you don t eat your vegetables, the bogeyman will get you. Syn: bogey. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bogeyman — (n.) 16c.; see BOGEY (Cf. bogey) (n.1) + MAN (Cf. man) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • bogeyman — (also bogyman) ► NOUN ▪ an evil spirit …   English terms dictionary

  • bogeyman — [boog′ē man΄; ] also [ bō′gēman΄] n. pl. bogeymen [boog′ēmen΄] BOOGEYMAN …   English World dictionary

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  • bogeyman — bog|ey|man [ bougi,mæn, bugi,mæn ] (plural bog|ey|men [ bougi,men, bugi,men ] ) noun count 1. ) an imaginary evil creature used in stories to frighten children: The bogeyman s going to get you. 2. ) someone or something that people believe is bad …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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  • bogeyman — noun a) A menacing, ghost like monster in childrens stories. The alleged link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda turned out to be a bogeyman. b) Any make believe threat, especially one used to intimidate or distract …   Wiktionary


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