Bogeyman and other fictional characters to scare children

  • Vivita24

    USA and English/Spanish
    My mother is from Panama and I recently took a trip there. It seems what is used to scare children over there is "El Duende", which I guess is an elf or gnome.

    The strange thing is that although it seems to be used to scare children it seems that even some of the older folk believe in "El Duende". My grandma described that she was watching a little boy who went to play near a river and he told her that one of his friends was calling him to the other side of the river. Apparently that little boy was somewhere else that day and it was impossible that he was at the river, so they deduced that it was a "duende" that was calling him and trying to trick him so it could take him away or something like that. I would normally chalk this up as my grandma just trying to tell a scary story or something but it turned into a long discussion and everyone was telling anctedotes about their run-ins with "duendes". Pretty neat and a little weird/spooky I have to admit. :)


    Senior Member
    I'm not very familiar with all the stories, but we do have a bogeyman, called BauBau. I'm not sure what he looks like (more like a shadow), but he will surely come to get the naughty children, and if you've been disobedient it's always a good idea to check under the bed before going to sleep - that's where he'll probably hide. Well, there and any other dark corner of the room.

    Baba Cloanţa is, I believe, our version of the Russian Baba Yaga (they both seem to have iron teeth).

    There are some tales of the Big Bad Wolf (Lupul cel rău), but since my parents never used this kind of "education" on us, my big brother and I would invent our own Wolf/BauBau stories to keep us properly spooked at night.

    We must be a very racist nation, but I've heard way too many parents scare their children that, if they're naughty, a certain ethnic minority representative would come and get them in his sack.

    Oh, and yes... I involuntarily played the role of the bogeyman once, when in a fast food (memo to self - don't ever go there again) - a child was misbehaving and I chanced to pass by their table, just to hear the mother say: "if you don't behave yourself, this girl will take you away. Won't you, miss?" Well, I must say the kid didn't look half as scared as I felt at that moment.


    Spanish. Spain
    Maybe I'm off topic now, because what I'm going to say was not used to scare children, but adults; but I'm now in rural Galicia, northwest Spain.
    And rural people still believe in:

    The "lobisome", the werewolf who will take children if he can, but whose preference are young women.
    Apparently the lobisome has a real name and personality: a serial killer of long ago.

    The "Santa Compaña": a long trail of living-dead which wanders through forests and villages in moonless nights. If you are unfortunate enough to find them, the last living-dead of the trail will give you its torch and you'll be forced to join the trail.


    Senior Member
    Ecuadorian Spanish - Canadian English
    Hello everyone,

    In Ecuador, the 'cuco' takes away naughty children who don't eat their soup or go to bed early. My parents never scared us with this, but my cousin used to be terrified of the cuco, and believed in its existence until she was about 10 years old...

    In the indigenous people's folklore, there is a 'duende' (evil goblin) called the 'chuzalongo' or 'chuzaluncu'. He punishes lazy young girls by raping them. Whenever a single woman gets pregnant and she doesn't want to reveal the father's name, she will blame it on the chuzalongo. In other versions of this myth, he rapes and kills all of his victims, both men and woman. He is supposed to be small and very ugly and his penis is supposed to be the same size as that of a horse. Of course, this myth isn't told to small children, rather, people of all ages are afraid of him... I guess it's kind of off-topic, than. Oh well.




    Senior Member
    England English
    When I was very young my father would threaten us with a visit from Old Granny Greenteeth. He had a little rhyme:

    Run lads! Run lads! run for your life,

    Old Granny Greenteeth is coming with a knife!



    Senior Member
    I actually don't know, to what extend this is being used in Denmark. It wasn't used on me in my childhood. In the old days, people where very afraid that "de underjordiske" (those who live underground) should take the unbabtised child and replace it with there own offspring. such "changelings" would be ill treaded so "de underjordiske" would take it back, out of pity. This unfortunatly resulted in the death of many children, who where a little different. to protect the child, you would lay cross and steal in the craddle, and best of all an open pair of scissors.
    In resent years i think the english/american boogieman has taken over, and is called "bøh-man" or "bussemand" in Denmark.


    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    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
    The Black Man (der Schwarze Man) also scares off kids here in Austria and I think that he is a very close relative to the Italian Uomo Nero (if it's not the exact same person, that is :D).

    Because he, too takes away children not behaving properly. But alas, today children aren't really scared any more from the Black Man. They've got other monsters today - Disney and toon monsters, if you know what I mean: they're so much more hip, really ...


    Senior Member
    I dare to say we Hungarians have the most mysterious animal living only in Hungary, it is a type of owl having a penis made up of copper. You can check it here. It is called "rézfaszú bagó" [the owl with the copper cock :warn:]and if childen are mischievious this owl takes them away. :D I know Portuguese have gambozinos but they do not scare children.
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    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    There is another one from Spain, used to be very famous many years ago. It is the 'sacamantecas'. If you don't behave, he comes with a sack (so maybe he is the same as the man of the sack), takes you and then kills you to use your fat. It is based in two real stories, one from the mid 19th century and another from the early 20th century.


    Senior Member
    Hello everyone,

    In Ecuador, the 'cuco' takes away naughty children who don't eat their soup or go to bed early. My parents never scared us with this, but my cousin used to be terrified of the cuco, and believed in its existence until she was about 10 years old...

    In the indigenous people's folklore, there is a 'duende' (evil goblin) called the 'chuzalongo' or 'chuzaluncu'. He punishes lazy young girls by raping them. Whenever a single woman gets pregnant and she doesn't want to reveal the father's name, she will blame it on the chuzalongo. In other versions of this myth, he rapes and kills all of his victims, both men and woman. He is supposed to be small and very ugly and his penis is supposed to be the same size as that of a horse. Of course, this myth isn't told to small children, rather, people of all ages are afraid of him... I guess it's kind of off-topic, than. Oh well.


    I read about something like it in a peru language site the man was living in a cave raping people.


    There are many mythical creatures in Serbian folklore such as:

    Psoglav is demon from Serbian folklore. It is represented as chimera, with horse hind legs, human torso and dog's head with one eye and iron teeth. It lived in caves with plenty of gemstones, but without Sun. It ate people, sometimes and dug their graves to feast on their corpses.

    Todorac is the most powerful and evil demon from Balkan folktales that is half-human, half-horse. But it should not be mistaken for Greek centaur.
    They look like riders sprouting from horse's back who are wearing cloaks that obscure their faces. Nobody ever saw their faces. While they are passing trough villages and towns, they kill everybody on their path by stomping them. Somewhere at the end of winter, there was Todor's Saturday and it was the only day when they appeared. Among them there was Great Todor, who was lame, white demon covered in white cloak and carried rattling chains. People then had special ritual to appease them and to banish them. They created cookies that looked like horse hooves and portion of those cookies was always given to horses. At that day, children were forbidden to get out of house and people didn't work.

    Osenja is female demon from folklore of Eastern Serbia. She is represented as woman in white clothes. She could be seen on bridges, close to roads or on hills in middle of night. Osenja had habit to seduce men and to lead them across forests and fields, making them tired at dawn.

    Babaroga is represented as very ugly, hunchbacked old woman with horn on head, who live in dark caves. According to folktales, Babaroga likes to steal naughty children and to bring them to her lair.

    Poludnica is spirit that appears on summer grain fields in the noon. It is represented as pale girl in white dress. She likes to grab men and women who appear on fields and throw them on the ground mercilessly.

    Drekavac (Screamer) is demon from Serbian folklore, created from dead, unbaptized toddlers. It is represented as tiny hairy creature with long sharp claws and long fur, which he stomps upon and yells in mixture of child's cry, scream and wolf's howling. He could scream so loudly that people could get deaf from him. He lives on graveyards, in forests or shores of rivers, generally, in places where it died as human. If human approaches him, he could jump on their back and force them to run until first calls of rooster. If human resists Drekavac, their face could be shredded with claws. Drekavac is afraid of light and dogs.

    Bukavac is demonic creature from Serbs that live on northern part of Serbia. Similar to Drekavac, it likes to yell very loudly, but unlike Drekavac, it lives close to swamps, rivers and lakes and has different look. It has six legs, slimy skin, big mouth, long tail and long curved horns on head. It likes to drown people and animals who happen to walk close to their watery lair at late night.

    Čuma is embodiment of Black Death disease from Serbian folktales. According to them, it is represented as ugly old woman with big eyes and messy hair. Čuma appeared at night from attic or chimney, carrying clay bowl with arrows. People tended to wash their dishes before sleep, because Čuma had habit to scratch them with her dirty nails and to poison them.

    Beda (misery) is demon from Southern Slavic folklore that is far descent from ghosts and close to Čuma. She wanders across the world, attacks people and torture them. There are sayings that ''Beda found them'' or ''Beda follows them from cradle to grave''. Beda is bony and slimy creature that breeds very quickly, likes to steal things from people and to dig them deep into the ground.

    Vila is creature from Serbian beliefs that is usually benign to humans. She is imagined as very beautiful and eternally young girl with bird or butterfly wings, golden hair, white dress and armed with bow and arrows. By beliefs, her power was in her hair. She lives far from humans, in forests, close to lakes and rivers or in clouds. It is believed that Vila is born from dew, certain flowers or when rainbow appears on sky. She could transform into any animal, especially falcon, wolf, swan or mare. She could be seen riding horses or elks in hunting, but very often could be seen dancing in circle with other Vilas. She could seduce heroes in fairytales or sometimes be their sisters-in-law, healing their wounds with various herbs that are created in battles. Human girls used to appease her for beauty or protection. Vila hardly forgives insults and could kill the offender with her eyesight or bow and arrows. Even in cases when she causes evil things, she still remains beautiful and seductive. She can become loyal to human by stealing her clothes or she can become ordinary woman if somebody takes out her wings. It is believed that seeds of garlic plant give her eternal youth. During times of New Moon, she becomes similar to Rusalka and therefore dangerous to humans.

    Rusalka is type of fairy that lives close to lakes and rivers. Pretty much like Vila, they are imagined as beautiful, eternally young girls with red or green hair, however they are extremely hostile toward humans. They like to seduce men and to drown them, or to kill them with loud laughter. They are created from souls of young girls that are drowned or faced violent death. The most powerful repellent against Rusalke is wormwood or garlic.

    Vilenjak is male version of Vila. Vilenjak is as tiny as flower of clover and could be summoned only if somebody finds or eats four-leaf clover. It is believed that they bring good luck to people.

    German is creature tied to weather. He could cause hailstorms, rain and thunderstorms. People used to create little figures out of clay to evoke rain during Summer Solstice (or Kupala celebration).

    Danica is Serbian name for Venus planet which could be seen as morning ''star'' that calls upon the dawn. In folk tales, it is represented as sister of Sun or Moon, sometimes even as daughter of Sun.

    Balačko is 3-headed giant from. From one head he could spit fire, from second one he could breathe cold wind. When he depletes his magical weapons, he was easy to kill.


    Vukodlak (Werewolf) is actually human that shifts into half-wolf creature every night. But in Serbian mythology, being werewolf is far different than Hollywood thing like ''getting bite or scratch''. One way for man to become werewolf is to skin killed wolf and to cover himself without tanning it (killing wolf in Serbian belief was the biggest sin, like ''rising hand against ancestor'' and being werewolf is considered as embodiment of Dazbog's punishment). Another belief is that when pregnant woman dies and when wolf passes over her body (Serbians used to burn bodies in funerals), her dead child can turn into werewolf and grows into adult over time, eventually popping out of her womb for hunt. It is believed that werewolf could cause eclipse by devouring Sun or Moon and spitting it out after certain amount of time. And unlike pop-culture werewolves, these werewolves do not transform others into one, nor they age, nor they make tribes/packs nor make wars with vampires. Some people believed that werewolves are siblings with Vampires, because they both are immortals, stuck between Yav (world of humans and mythical creatures) and Nav (world of dead) and they both share same food - human blood and flesh. They don't do tribal stuff (tattoos, jewelry, decorative feathers and religious rituals like Native Americans). They hunt alone and are craving for flesh once they transform. In general, they are acting like every canine with rabies. Werewolf can temporarily turn back into human by touching anything made of silver or gold and he can be killed by beheading with weapons made of same material.

    Vampir (Vampire) is the only Serbian word accepted in all world's languages. Everybody knows them as human-shaped undead blood-drinkers with fangs that pops up in almost all RPG games, cartoons, animes and movies. But original Serbian vampire is far much different from their Hollywood siblings. They usually came from people who were either truly evil while alive, or who ended their lives with suicide or being tortured. Sometimes, evil spirit possesses and bodies from innocent people and their living corpse or their ghost (belief is depending of region) comes to vampire's hometowns and attacks people, sustaining themselves with their flesh and blood.
    Unlike their siblings from pop-culture, Vampires are not charming and sparkling aristocrats, who wear goth-like clothes and act very calm and seductive toward their victims, nor they make wars with Werewolves, nor they have just two fangs. Original Vampires came from all classes of society and wear whatever they brought into their grave. They never make relationships with mortals and act very violent in search for blood - ripping off victim's throat, almost beheading them with their sharp teeth, much like their werewolf relatives. And their faces turn red when they are full. While Werewolves had human shadow and mirror image, Vampires don't have it at all.
    Also they don't shift into bats. Vampires originally shapeshifted into butterflies or moths, as they have habit of gathering around moonlight. That ''shifting into bats'' is Hollywood thing, because vampire bats exist in New World. The most known Vampir is Petar Blagojević - villager that lived in Serbian village of Kisiljevo who died in 1725. and became vampire few weeks later. That village was under reign of Austro-Hungarian Empire and every human died every day from plague that was apparently caused by him. There is also and story that his apparition came to his living wife, searching for opanci (Serbian shoes). When Austrian doctors came to that village and dug him out from grave, his corpse had fresh, red face and had blood on his mouth. And news that Vampire appeared caused massive panicking among people of Austro-Hungary. Thanks to Petar Blagojević, Vampires became known and beyond Serbian territory. The only common thing between original and Hollywood vampire is their treatment - they can be banished with garlic and Holy Cross and water. And can be killed either by beheading or by stabbing in chest with stakes made of whitethorn tree.


    Besomar is demon that is connected to disgust and hatred that had similarities with Werewolf or Vampire. Sometimes, historians mistake Besomar with them, saying that it's just another name for same demon. Name is made from ''bes'' (anger, rage) with ''mora'' (torture, death).

    Bauk is from Serbian beliefs. Parents used to scare children with him. Word ''bauljati'' is used when somebody walks weirdly. Bauk had weird walking and lived in dark places, in holes or abandoned houses from where he preys upon humans and eats them. The only way to banish bauk is to use light or noise. English word that is close to Bauk is ''ogre''.

    Mora is night demon that, because of her name is usually mistaken with Morana. She is created from girl baby that is born with blood and had habit to sit on people's chest while they are sleeping and drink their blood. They could take form of hair or straw and could pass trough keyhole.

    Liko is demon of misfortune known in all Slavic countries. She is represented as old skinny woman with one eye who is wearing black clothing.

    Zmaj (Dragon) is known in almost all World's cultures. However Zmaj in Serbian folklore is represented as rather benign creature, created from certain animals which lived up to 30 or 100 years (rooster, carp, horse, ox, ram or dog). It always had either one or even number of heads and traits from animal that it borrowed. It fought against Azhdaja and it was invisible to everybody, except to woman whom he falls in love. Relationship between Zmaj and human women could bring ''zmajevitu'' children (Dragonborn children) and they differed from humans by having large head or eyes and tiny wings under their armpits.

    Aždaja is demonic version of Zmaj (Dragon). Created from serpent that lived up to 100 years or eaten another one. Usually in stories they have odd number of heads, rarely two. They spit fire, have terrible roar and have evil look on their faces. They live in caves or mountains, from where they escape and cause hailstorms or devour humans or cattle. They were so known in Serbian folklore that Christianity adopted it as perfect image for devil - being greedy and hungry all the time and extremely hostile to all living beings.

    Cikavac is tiny bird that could be, according to belief, created when woman stole egg of black hen and put it under her armpit for 40 days. Until hatching, woman could not confess, pray, cut her nails or wash her face. Once Cikavac is created, it remains very loyal to its master. It could steal honey or milk from nearby beehives or cows, then give it to its master. Also it could give its owner a power to understand animal language.

    Milosnice are demons of plague, known in all Slavic countries. Their name in English would be ''merciful ones'' and Slavs called them like that, because they wanted to appease them and to avoid plague that they bring. They are represented as women in black and they walked in groups, rarely alone. Amount of Milosnice was measured by amount of sicknesses that they brought. There was no cure from them, but there was a way to appease them and to eventually avoid their plagues. People could light fires on crossroads and on village's entrance and they could share food and drink and even sing before fire.


    Žar-Ptica it is imagined as tall, otherworldly beautiful bird that sleeps during day and gets out at night. Its feathers glowed like fire (they didn't burn like fire) and could illuminate whole areas like Sun. It is believed that whoever catch it could fulfill their wishes or bring hope. Unlike pop-culture Phoenix it didn't cremate itself to be reborn, but it's represented as immortal bird.

    Nezit is tiny demon that could cause physical sicknesses in humans, making their teeth to fall out, making flu, deafen them and blind them.

    Domovoj (or Domovik) is house spirit represented as tiny middle-aged man with fur cloak, he guarded houses and cared for cattle and therefore connected with God Veles. He could transform into dog, cat and cow, rarely and into snake or frog. He lived often in corner close to hearth, on attic or in garden. He could be heard, but it was dangerous to be seen. If people don't bring tribute to him (in form of bread or wheat), he could abandon their home and cause sickness of inhabitants and cattle.

    Sudjenice (or Sudjaje) are trio of spirits known under different names across all Slavic countries. They are weaving destiny of every newborn child, including and how long child will live and how it will die and nobody can escape that. Slavs had habit to welcome them with clean house and clothing for mother and child who is surrounded by already made bread, wine, picked basil plant and gold and silver coins as tribute to them. Three days after child is born, they appear in their home. First sudjaya is very ugly and evil, she is telling the death of child. Second one is also evil and she threads child's dysfunctions, while third one is the most beautiful of them and she threads longevity of child's life and success in marriage. Usually, people pick second option that is neutral.

    Lesnik is creature known in all Slavic countries. His wife is called Lesovika. His role was to protect forests and wildlife that inhabited them. He could change his size from size of grass to the tallest tree. He had blue cheeks because of blue blood, pale skin, hair and beard created from grass and vines and vivid green eyes. Slavs thought that migrations of animals are actually Lesnik's orders. If human befriends Lesnik, they could learn everything about magic. Farmers and shepherds usually made pact with him, so he could take care of their animals and farms. Lesnik is known that he could lead people to wrong way in forest, where he could tickle them to death and people had habit to wear their clothes upside-down, so they won't get lost. If two Lesnici meet each other, they could wreak havoc upon forests, destroying trees and make animals scared and scattered.

    Nav is demon known in all Slavic countries. As they shared name with ''Nav'' - realm of dead and are created from dead, unbaptized babies, they embodied death itself. They are represented as black birds with baby heads who attacked pregnant women and children. They also could attack and cattle and steal milk from them.

    Stratim is the mother of all birds in the world. She is an assistant of the god of wind, Stribog. Just one movement of her wing may create a huge wave in the sea. Also, her screams can cause storms. Like the mostly Slavic mythological birds, she is imagined like bird with head and chest of woman. She is said to live close to the Ocean-Sea.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    He took a lot from various mythologies. And many of Europe’s mythologies are related, stories have been told and retold as peoples moved around the continent.


    Senior Member

    Some of the mythical creatures mentioned by @Vukabular are part of the Macedonian folklore too. But I will mention here only the Macedonian imaginary evil persons/creatures used to scare kids:

    Баба Рога or Бабарога (Baba Róga or Babaróga) n. fem. - the Macedonian female "Bogeyman"
    Бубашар (Búbašar) n. masc. - the Macedonian male "Bogeyman"

    It is interesting that these two are used with definite articles too, unlike other personal names, geographical names etc. which do not get definite articles in Macedonian. So, we have:
    Бабарогата (Babarógata) "the Babaroga", and​
    Бубашарот (Bubášarot) "the Bubashar".​

    p.s. @Vukabular you forgot to mention Караконџула / Karakondžula :)
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    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    There are some local ones but the most widespread equivalent in Catalonia would be the Papu. For some it'd have the shape of a man, for others it could be like a threatening cloud or a sort of ghost, but the fact that it's so undefined is probably because it's nothing but trying to give some shape to Fear. Blackness/darkness is commonly associated to it, it's usually hidden, wears hoods or appears at night, when you can only see his eyes. When thought of as a stormy cloud, it may come down from the sky at any moment and eat kids or even adults.

    I myself recall my grandmother telling me Afanya't que he vist el Papu... 'Hurry up, I've seen the Papu!' when we were getting late. In fact, not being told exactly what it was like often made it more terrifying in a child's mind.


    Senior Member
    I would just like to know if the Boogeyman, an imaginary evil person or creature to scare kids off also exists in your culture.
    In some manner, yes (babáy; búka). Although my grandmother was scarying me off with a policeman most of the time instead (may be considered another mythical monster of the Russian culture - and much more popular one, to think about it).


    Senior Member
    @Awwal12 Unfortunately, yes. Scaring disobedient kids with:
    "I will call the doctor to give you an injection!" or
    "You see that woman? She's a doctor and will give you an injection!"

    And these kids later in their life develop phobia of doctors and injections.
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    Sashalee Morrison

    Senior Member
    Standard Jamaican/ Caribbean English
    Over here, we have : the Blackheart man, the bogey man, the duppy man, and the Coco man.

    Blackheart man
    As kids, we grew up hearing about him. We were told to be careful of strangers who might walk up and invite us into their cars or homes. They could also be found in the lonely countryside or in the gullies. They might even show up at schools and parks. So, it brought fear to us as youths every time we heard the name Blackheart man. He is known for kidnapping and ripping the heart from the chest. 'Di Blackheart man eh comin'.

    Bogey man
    The bogey man lives here, too.

    Duppy or duppy man
    A duppy is a spirit of the dead. Parents say things like, don't go outside after dark or the duppy man will take you away or if you don't eat up, the duppy man will come for you. If he hears children crying, singing or talking loudly at night, he also robs them of their voice.

    Coco man
    The Coco man a.k.a Cucu man (also known as el Coco) is known to strike fear into the hearts of many Hispanic and Latino children and also some kids here. This strange beast is not known to have a specific appearance, but is instead thought to be a shapeshifter that is ‘terrible to look at.’ In some regions, the Coco Man is thought to have the power to transform into the thing a child fears most.
    He climbs onto the roofs of children who disobey their parents and waits until they fall asleep. It is then that the coco man sneaks into the room of the naughty child and kidnaps them for its next meal.
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