Bogeyman and other fictional characters to scare children

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Cracker Jack, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    It's almost witching hour. I would just like to know if the Boogeyman, an imaginary evil person or creature to scare kids off also exists in your culture. If so, how do you call them. Also if there are folkloric creatures in your country, can you describe them.

    In my country, we call them MOOMOO. Thank you very much and Happy Halloween.
  2. ixoxe

    ixoxe Senior Member

    Rio negro
    Hola Cracker,
    en mi país asustan a los niños con "el viejo de la bolsa" para que se porten bien.-
  3. Gustavoang Senior Member

    Venezuela / Castilian
  4. AlxGrim

    AlxGrim Senior Member

    Roma, Italy
    Italy, Italian
    In my country there's the "Uomo Nero" ("The Black Man"), generally used to scare children and convince them to eat, to sleep, to behave... otherwise "the Black Man will come and take you AWAAAAAYYYYYYY.." :D
  5. AlxGrim

    AlxGrim Senior Member

    Roma, Italy
    Italy, Italian
    Oh, about folk characters: we have the "Befana", which in my experience is only typical of my country (please, let me know if she's active anywhere else!).
    La Befana is somehow the female counterpart of Babbo Natale (Santa Claus), an ugly witch, dressed in black, with a long spiky hat, flying on her broom on the night of January 6th. She brings (sugar-made!) charcoal to those kids who have been naughty, and all kinds of candies to the good ones. In spite of her scaring look, she's very loved by children. But that's no big surprise... children love whoever brings them candies... :)
    January 6th is an official holiday here in Italy, and traditionally, here in Rome, people gather in Piazza Navona, a wonderful square in the middle of the town, where lots of people sell food, candies and other children stuff, and street artists make their shows. It's lovely!
  6. Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish

    We have "el Coco" too! And "the Man with the Sack" ("l'home del sac" in catalan)


  7. Monnik

    Monnik Senior Member

    Yo, en México; mi corazón, en Madrid
    Mexico - Spanish/English
    Well, apparently, the "Coco" is very well known, for we also have him in Mexico!! He must be a busy man... ;)

    And as far as folkloric characters go, we have the ever-grieving "La llorona" (the lady weeper), who is said to wander the streets in a never-ending search for her children, whom she killed, while moaning "Oh, my children! Oh, my children!" :eek:

  8. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    To scare very little children who don't want to eat or go to
    bed we call BICHO PAPÃO (an animal that eats children).
    When they are growing older there are other BICHOS (animals)
    to scare them, most of them not an animal at all!
  9. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I guess the French equivalent would be a croquemitaine.
    There's un ogre as well, that is supposed to eat children.

    But they're old fashioned nowadays and I'm sure very few French children have heard of them, especially the former.

    Now, they're much more afraid of the monsters or the ghosts they see in Japonese cartoons or American horror movies. (when they're allowed to watch them - which I disapprove of).

    EDIT : ogre exists in English as well and is spelt the same.
  10. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    The bogyman lives in Australia, too.
  11. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    In the UK we talk of "the boogey man" who goes round frightening children but he isn't well defined - I don't think you would find everyone knowing or agreeing what he looks like in the way that you do for this Befana in Italy or Michael Jackson in the US.
  12. kiro Senior Member

    UK / English
    Hehe, good one. ;)
    I agree, but I've always heard him described as the "bogey man"... "the boogey man" sounds like someone who, as well as scaring the crap out of you, also plays a mean Blues guitar. (Possibly at the same time :p).
  13. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Haha, here's the boogeyman-

    Thanks to alc, this should work
  14. Gustavoang Senior Member

    Venezuela / Castilian
    We have "La llorona" too! :D

  15. mandarina_82

    mandarina_82 Banned

    for me "el hombre del saco", "el coco" y "el tio camońas" :)
  16. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    Thanks a lot. I had the idea about el coco or el viejo de la bolsa or l'home del sac. But I wasn't very sure so I asked. Gustav's link was very useful. I first thought that in Italy it was known as Uomo Negro. But the explanation in the link provided by Gustav was enough to clarify how Uomo Negro became Uomo Nero.

    However, Nero is confusing with the fiddler. Anyway, it is identified with something undesirable, right Alx? LV, croquemitaine to me sounds like croque monsieur. Hahaha. Timepeac, the link you included is invalid. Monnik abd Vanda were right.
  17. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    All - I have corrected my original link and deleted all the posts saying you can't see it so it doesn't take over the thread.


  18. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Ok, now I can't sleep tonight.:D
  19. Mita

    Mita Senior Member

    Chile - Español
    In Chile we have "el cuco", that is the same as "el coco", and also "el viejo del saco", like Argentinian "viejo de la bolsa" or "el hombre del saco" from Spain.

  20. CLEMENTINE Senior Member



    I think there is still a famous "monster" that many French children have heard about "le Grand Méchant Loup" (the big bad wolf (?))- still my nephews are learning songs with this horrible wolf.

    But I am not sure that today children know about "le Père Fouettard" (kind of equivalent of the Italian Babbo Natale witch). "Le Père Noël" (Santa) is the good man carrying presents for children that had been good during the year, whereas "le Père Fouettard" (with his strap) would come for naughty children. I remember that when I was younger, my grandparents were asking me who, from le père noël or le père fouettard, would come for me for Christmas (but I did not know who le père fouettard was)...

    All new generations forget about some monsters and create new ones...
  21. *Cowgirl*

    *Cowgirl* Senior Member

    USA English
    The Boogeyman lives in the US too.
  22. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Actually I've found that Brazilians youngest nowadays fear
    "o homem do saco" just like Argentinians.
  23. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo moderator

    American English
    No, I think that would be "the boogie man". ;)

    Actually, I always thought the correct spelling in English was "bogey" man, even though I've always heard it pronounced "boogey" man. I don't know why the disparity. :confused:

    In Haiti, the bogeyman is called Tonton Macoute, although his name has been used to make the people fear real men... so for many Haitians, the bogeyman really exists. :(
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I can assure you all that in Ireland it is bogeyman, with a short "o". No boogeymen here.
    The more frivolously-inclined of you may enjoy THIS LINK, which I can assure you is relevant, as it explains that:
  25. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    Hi Kiro, Panj and Fenix. I have always known it to be bogeyman wayback in grade school and even in kindergarten. However, when I looked it up at my Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, BE spelling is with 1 o while that of AE may be 1 or 2 o's.

    I also accessed the Internet Movie Database for a movie of the same title this year and it is spelled as Boogeyman. It also appears in publicity materials, still photos and posters. So I opted for Boogeyman spelling. But let's just wait what our other American and British friends would say.
  26. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
  27. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    In AE, the "o" in "bogeyman" is the same vowel as in "book" or "sugar." If you boogie on down the road, you are trucking along-- if you simply boogie on down, you're dancing. Same vowel sound.

    American Heritage dictionary gives the long vowel in "boo" as a secondary pronunciation for "boogie" meaning dance or get on down the road, but this is wrong. I don't care if it is the dictionary, "boogie" pronounced in this way is an insult term for a black person.

    A "bogey" in golf is a one-over par score. "Bogie" is a nickname for Humphrey Bogart-- long o's in both cases.

    "Booger," the word that got Johnny Fever fired before he signed on at WKRP, rhymes with "sugar," and it means solid matter picked from the nose.

    It's boggy going, when you try to boogie through a swamp-- you're unlikely to keep the proper pace, and will end up doing something more like slogging. Boggy rhymes with "foggy," and in AE it has nothing to do with the loo-- which we don't really have in AE either, except in arcane ivory-tower type phrases like "in loo of." Well skip to my Loo, perfesser.

    Whoa-- I see I'm in the "cultural issues" forum, not discussing terminology on the "English only." Sorry if that's more than y'all ever wanted to know about "boogie" in AE.
  28. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    It's good to learn something new everyday.:)
    Though I can't understand the part with American culture background and don't get it why it's an insult term for a black person if 'boo' is pronounced in long vowel /u/.

    Stephen King...Yeah, the first time I saw 'boogeyman' was in his novels.
    King's boogeyman(s) always hide/live in the closets and usually don't have definite appearance. But that won't reduce the horror. Even though you are not a child anymore, you could still not dare to stretch your hands or feet over the edge of the bed after reading King's novels.

    As for Taiwan, there truely is a folk character called 虎姑婆(an terrifying old lady). People say parents would use 虎姑婆 to scare children by saying 虎姑婆 will come for them at night and eat their fingers one by one if they are not behave. However, it's just a flok tale and nobody would really be scared of 虎姑婆. I think no one will take 虎姑婆 for real. It's just a folk tale character for us.

    Novertheless, there are something of which not only the child but also the adults would be scared. It is ghost, which mostly refers to dead people, with no definite appearance. No one knows exactly how it looks, but everyone knows it is horrible.

    When I was a little child, my cousins used to tell ghost stories. Each time after listening to it, I would not dare to go to the toilet alone. When I finally had the nerve to go to the toilet, I was always afraid there would suddenly be a hand offering me the tissue. The scare could last for a period of time, the same effect if you read King's novels.

    Please feel free to correct me if there is any mistake.:)
  29. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Well, boogie pronounced with the long oo as in "boob" is an insulting term, but pronounced with the short oo as in "book" means something else. I'm sure there are words in your language that mean something okay when pronounced a certain way, and something bad when pronounced another.

    Also there are parts of words that strike a little note, but aren't in themselves offensive. An American schoolteacher was actually fired for using the word "niggardly" in class, by administrators who didn't know what the word meant, and assumed it was a racial epithet-- or was intended to sound like one, no matter what it meant. Well, I wasn't there-- maybe it was used with a certain tone, or a smirk or a wink, or maybe it was innocent, and the ignorant reaction to it unfair.

    You can dance a jig, and you can say "boo," but the word jigaboo is a racial insult, and it is sometimes simply shortened to jig. So words get tainted and can't be used any more-- try using "gay" in its old sense of lightheartedness, and no sexual overtones. There used to be a weight-reduction product that came in the form of phony fudge cubes you could eat when you were hungry-- they had no calories, but supposedly satisfied the craving for a snack. They were also popular enough, the company that made them turned a profit-- until a certain disease arose in the late 1970s and became a sare-word, and then the product disappeared. Those little fudge cubes were called Ayds.

    Scary things, scary words. We are in an area of semantics, with bogeymen and ghosts and things you scare children with-- that has the potential for racial "sensitivity" in the U.S. The bogeyman himself, even pronounced with the short-u sound, is right on the border of being insensitive. Consider that he's called "il uomo nero" in Italian, as a couple of people have mentioned.

    He's not just scary, he's dark and scary. And in the Deep South, a couple generations back, when little white kids were being told scary stories of the bogeymen coming to get them-- you can bet there was no question he would come in the form of a Negro. I'm surprised that the word "bogeyman" in any form hasn't become taboo. Didn't an American politician recently just about lose his career by referring to someone as a "spook?" He was talking about him being a spy, and that's a slang term for spy-- one most of you have heard, and I'd say all native English-speakers have. But it's also an insult term for a black person.

    Now there's an example of a bogeyman-word that can be acceptable or insulting, and both forms are pronounced the same!
  30. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    Yes, I think I know what you mean.;)

    Things like this happen a lot, whether eastern countries or western countries.


    Thank you for your comprehensive(I just learned it from English forum:D ) article.:)
  31. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Le Pere Fouettard / Zwarte Piet is still very active in Belgium and the Netherlands, but at St Nicholas rather than Christmas.
  32. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    I wonder whether the AE "boogyman" is taking over the BE "bogeyman", in part because of the alternative meaning of "bogey" in BE (something horrid that comes out of your nose)!?
  33. Papalote Senior Member

    Quebec, Canada
    Spanish, English, French
    When I was doing my field work in the State of Hidalgo (Mexico), I was told about the chupacabras. A sort of animal that looked like a dog and killed goats and other animals by sucking all ther blood. I had never heard of it as a kid, but I figured it was because I grew up in the city.

    Here is a link (in Spanish) which explains that the legend of the chupacabras has been around for only 30 years. Which is more or less the time I started hearing about it.

    Sorry about the link being only in Spanish. It also has other links to other espantos around Latin America.

    Wishing you a restful night!

  34. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Funny, but we have chupa-cabras as well.
    Anyway, it's new for us, according to the article (sorry, PT only) it appeared in 1977. I'd never heard of it before that time.
  35. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    In Serbia, we have BABAROGA, which literraly means, old woman with horns.

    In old slavic culture there was also DREKAVAC which means "He who screams" who lived in caves and ate little children...

    But today, it is more common to scare children with Babaroga...
  36. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    The Russians have Baba Yaga, a witch who eats children.
  37. maxiogee Banned

    Ireland used to have "the Pooka" which is detailed in the link. One thing which isn't mentioned is a tradition my father knew. It was alleged that at Hallowe'en (a pre-Christian time of the dead) the Pooka (in the guise of a horse) galloped across the country urinating on nut-bearing/fruit-bearing trees and wither their bounty. This "explained" the feasting children did at that time.
    It is thought to be associated with the British "Puck" but a touch more evil.

    As children in the Dublin of the 1950s we were in fear of the bogeyman. Has anyone come across Fungus the Bogeyman - the tale by Raymond Briggs (creator of The Snowman)?
  38. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    It seems that Baba Yaga is not only Russian, but Slavic Boogieman... the same as Serbian Baba Roga...

    From Wikipedia:
  39. ewhite

    ewhite Senior Member

    I seem to remember the Pooka playing a role in some of my Grandfather's stories. If I remember correctly, if you saw a Pooka at night you were compelled to follow it.

    Due to my grandparents' story-telling abilities, I to this day have a healthy respect for leprechauns (beware! they are not merry little creatures!) and take precautions never to fall asleep on a fairy mound.
  40. maxiogee Banned

    Yeah, but fairies are protective of their mounds (a quality they share with some humans) and it is difficult to find one you can get close enough to to fall asleep! ;) :p :eek:
  41. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    Mod note:
    This post was a begining of a new thread. I merged it with the older thread, as they both treat the same topic.
    Reminder: please search the forum before opening new threads to avoid repetitions.

    Thanks :)


    In our country, when a bairn is doing silly things their mother or father (but most usually their mother I think) will tell them to stop being a wee silly boy or some hideous creature will make appearance. There are many such creatures, but the most notorious are the "man of the sack", a man who wanders around carrying a sack, and the "papu". Nobody knows exactly what a papu is, or what it looks like, but it is understood that is some kind of evil monster, probably a mutant. So, do parents employ these sort of tactics with bairns, in your country? What characters do they talk about?

  42. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Hi Ernest.:)

    Oh, there's plenty of such creatures in Russian "mythology", I believe.:) One of the most "popular" monsters is, undoubtedly, Baba Yaga - she appears in a number of fairy tales. You can read about her in this article:

    But it seems to me that such tactics isn't a common one in Russia. My parents certainly never employed it, neither with me nor with my junior sister. I have the impression that such tactics could have been pretty common in old Russia, before 1917. But nowadays it would sound rather unusual to try and scary your child in this way. I doubt it will impress them - taking into account what they can see on TV every day.
  43. tinlizzy

    tinlizzy Senior Member

    USA - English
    My grandparents would say the 'Bogeyman' will get you if you get out of bed. My parents really disliked this and I didn't talk about scary things with my child.
  44. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    They used to be:
    "El ogro", a big green semi-human creature that ate children who did not behave.
    "El coco", unidentified monster who ate children who did not like soup.
    "El lobo feroz", well, this one is known: the big bad wolf ate children who disobeyed.
    "La bruja", she ate children who stayed out late (being somewhat more refined, she cooked them first).
    "El hombre del saco", he kidnapped children who sneaked away from parents and put them inside his big sack (presumably he ate them later on).

    I don't remember if children were really afraid of any of these characters.
    I quite loved the poor big bad wolf and was rather angry at the awful treatment lovely wolves received in fairy tales.
    Those characters would be useless nowadays: Etcetera is absolutely right when she says children can see on the telly worse beings than a poor and lonely big bad wolf.
  45. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    In Japan they say if you aren't good the thunder (if it is thundering) will come and steal/eat your penis.
  46. mirx Banned

    What about when they scare you with non-fictional caracters?

    In México -or at least where I am from- we have the man of the sack, el coco (nobody knows exactly what it is, so this somehow keeps children fearful and untrusty).

    In my case, my parents used "the man of the sack", which by the way, had a name and face and everything. He used to collect worn out clothes in rich houses a then seld them again in poorer ones. My parents made us believe that, along with the clothes, he also took misbehaved kids.

  47. Horazio Senior Member

    italian / spanish (bilingual)
    The man of the sack exists also in Italy , and maybe in the majority of western countries.
    But flolklore is disappearing....grandmothers used to scare kids with these tricks.
  48. CrazyArcher

    CrazyArcher Senior Member

    Well, besides Baba Yaga, a scary personality in Russian folklore is Babay - mostly described as an old man, who comes at night and takes with him kids who don't behave well. This creature is closest to boogeyman, I think.
  49. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Folklore is disappearing?...
    An old French song about "Le grand Lustucru", with versions from Brittany... and Saskatchewan.
  50. avok

    avok Banned

    We have "öcü" here, I don't know why but my grandparents used this word to mean a wolf

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