The Bogeyman

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The Bogeyman (/ˈboʊɡimæn, ˈbʊɡi-/; also spelled boogeyman, bogyman, bogieman or boogie man) is a mythical creature used by adults to frighten children into good behaviour. The Bogeyman has no specific appearance, and conceptions vary drastically by household and culture, but is commonly depicted as a masculine or androgynous monster that punishes children for misbehavior. Bogeymen may target a specific act or general misbehavior, depending on what purpose needs serving, often based on a warning from the child’s authority figure.

Goya’s Que viene el Coco (“Here Comes the Bogeyman / The Boogeyman is Coming”), c. 1797

The term “Bogeyman” is sometimes used as a non-specific personification or metonym for terror, and in some cases, the Devil.

The word bogey is believed to be derived from the Middle English bogge / bugge (“something frightening”, “scarecrow”). Theories on its origin include a root meaning “goat”, or a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (“goblin”). It could be influenced in meaning by Old English -budda used in compounds for “beetle”.

The word could also be linked to many similar words in other Indo-European: bogle (Scots), boeman (Dutch), Butzemann (German), busemann (Norwegian), bøhmand / bussemand (Danish), bòcan, púca, pooka or pookha (Irish), pwca, bwga or bwgan (Welsh), puki (Old Norse), pixie or piskie (Cornish), puck (English), bogu (Slavonic), buka (Russian, бука), bauk (Serbian), bubulis (Latvian), baubas (Lithuanian), bobo (Polish), bubák (Czech), bubák (Slovak), bebok (Silesian), papão (Portuguese), торбалан (Bulgarian), Μπαμπούλας (Greek), ბუა), babau (Italian), бабай (Ukrainian), baubau (Romanian), and papu (Catalan).

A related word, bugbear, from bug, meaning goblin or scarecrow, and bear, was imagined as a demon in the form of a bear that eats small children, and was also used to mean a general object of dread. The word bugaboo, with a similar pair of meanings, may have arisen as an alteration of bugbear.

Other putative origins
In Southeast Asia, the term is popularly supposed to refer to Bugis or Buganese pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia’s third-largest island. These pirates often plagued early English and Dutch trading ships of the British East India Company and 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.

In Luo dialects in Eastern Africa the term ‘bwogo’ (with pronunciation sound like ‘booga’) means to scare. This correlation is most likely spurious as Nilotic language roots predate the modern concept of civilization itself.

Analogues in other cultures
Bogeyman-like beings are almost universal, common to the folklore of many countries.

Sack Man
In many countries, a bogeyman variant 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 Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and the countries of Spanish America, where he is referred to as el “Hombre del costal”, el “hombre del saco”, or in Portuguese, o “homem do saco” (all of which mean “the sack/bag man”), or el roba-chicos, meaning child-stealer. Similar legends are also very common in Eastern Europe (e.g. Bulgarian Torbalan, “sack man”), as well as in Haiti and some countries in Asia.

El Coco
El Coco (also El Cuco 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 to get them. The rhyme originated in the 17th century and has evolved over the years, but still retains its original meaning. Coconuts (Spanish: coco) received that name because 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 boogeyman of the United States. However, the term El Coco is also used in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, although there it is more usually called El Cuco, as in Puerto Rico, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Among Mexican-Americans, El Cucuy is portrayed as an evil monster that hides under children’s beds at night and kidnaps or eats the child that does not obey his/her parents or go to sleep when it is time to do so. However, the Spanish American bogeyman does not resemble the shapeless or hairy monster of Spain: social sciences professor Manuel Medrano says popular legend describes El cucuy as a small humanoid with glowing red eyes that hides in closets or under the bed. “Some lore has him as a kid who was the victim of violence… and now he’s alive, but he’s not,” Medrano said, citing Xavier Garza’s 2004 book Creepy Creatures and other Cucuys.”

In Brazilian folklore, a similar character called Cuca is depicted as a female humanoid alligator. There’s a famous lullaby sung by most parents to their children that says that the Cuca will come to 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.

In the countries of central and eastern Mediterranean, children who misbehave are threatened with a creature known as “babau” (or “baubau”, “baobao”, “bavbav”, or similar). In Italy, the Babau (in Romania, Bau-bau) is also called 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 say something like: “Here comes l’uomo nero! He must know that there’s a child here who doesn’t want to drink his soup!”. It is also featured in a widespread nursery rhyme in Italy: “Ninna nanna ninna oh, questo bimbo a chi lo do? Lo darò all’ uomo nero, che lo tiene un anno intero.” (English: “Lullaby Lulla Oh, who do I give this child to? I will give him to the Boogeyman, who’s going to keep him for a whole year”) L’uomo nero is not supposed to eat or harm children, but instead takes them away to a mysterious and frightening place. 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 are adapted by the parents in a variety of ways. In Egypt “al-Bu’bu'” (البعبع) is often depicted as a night creature dressed in black who haunts children that misbehave.

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

In Denmark, the creature is known as the bussemand or bøhmand. It hides under the bed and grabs children who will not sleep. As in the English equivalent, bussemand is also a slang term for nasal mucus. In Norway, he is referred to as the Busemann. 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 colonized by Swiss and Germanic peoples during the eighteenth century, “der Butzemann” is the term for a male scarecrow. A female scarecrow is a “Butzefrau”.

Other examples
Afghanistan – The Madar-i-Al is a nocturnal hag that kills infants in their cribs and invoked to frighten children into obedience. Burning the seeds of the wild rue and fumigating the area around the baby will offer protection against her.

Albania – The Buba is a serpentine monster. Mothers would tell their children to be quiet or the Buba would get them.

The Gogol is a terrible giant that frightens children into being good.

The Lubia is a female demon with an insatiable appetite for the flesh of children, especially girls. She has many heads, from seven to a hundred, and like the Greek hydra if one head is severed then others will grow in its place.

Azerbaijan – The Div is a hairy giant that eats children. It was outsmarted and defeated by a clever young boy named Jirtdan, a popular hero in Azerbaijani fairy tales.

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” has been used to scare children who misbehave. 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 and that of a black dog. It later became a children’s story in the early 1900s called “The Nikker”, in which the creature devoured young children who stayed up past their bedtime.

Belize – Tata Duende is a mythical goblin described as being of small stature, with a beard, wrinkles, backwards feet, a large brimmed hat, and lacking thumbs. It is a protector of the forests and animals and was used to scare children from going out to play at night or going into the jungle.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia, the Bogeyman is called Babaroga, baba meaning old woman and rogovi meaning horns, literally meaning old woman with horns. The details vary from one household to another. In one version, babaroga takes children, puts them in a sack, and then, when it comes to its cave, eats them. In another version, it takes children and pulls them up through tiny holes in the ceiling.

Brazil and Portugal – A monster more akin to the Bogeyman is called Bicho Papão (“Eating Beast”) or Sarronco (“Deep-Voiced Man”). A notable difference between it and the homem do saco is that the latter is a daytime menace and “Bicho Papão” is a nighttime menace. Another important difference is that “Homem do Saco” usually kidnaps children who go to places without parents authorization, while “Bicho Papão” scares naughty children and hides under their beds.

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.

Quebec – in this French-speaking province of Canada, 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.

Newfoundland and Labrador – The “Old Hag” is a demonic entity from Newfoundland folklore. According to legend, the Old Hag appears in the bedrooms of naughty children late at night and suffocates them by sitting on their stomachs. The Old Hag then takes the children to her lair in the woods where she eats their bodies. Supposedly, the myth of the Old Hag was inspired by experiences caused by Sleep Paralysis, in which an individual would awake to the hallucination of an old woman sitting on them, cutting off their breathing.

Yukon – “Quankus” is a bogeyman-like creature that places naughty children in a large sock and carries them away, particularly at night. Children are typically threatened with the Quankus to encourage them to go to bed.

In Inuit mythology, there is a shapeshifting creature called the Ijiraq, that kidnaps children, to hide them away and abandon them. If the children can convince the Ijiraq to let them go, they can use inukshuk of stone to find their way home. Also from Inuit Mythology there is the Qalupalik, which are human-like creatures with long fingernails, green skin, and long hair that live in the sea. They carry babies and children away in their Amauti, if they disobey their parents and wander off alone. The Qalupalik adopt the children and bring them to live with them underwater.

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.

China – “Ou-wu” is usually described as a witch or a scary woman who kidnaps children who misbehave. It is popular among southern regions of China and places like Hong Kong. The origin of the term is a pronoun for “monster” and it is widely used as a synonym for “ugly” or “hideous” even today.

Cyprus – In the Cypriot dialect, the Bogeyman is called Kkullas (Κκουλλάς); a man (vaguely described as hooded and/or deformed) who will put misbehaving children in a bag and take them away from their homes.
Czech Republic – The equivalent of the Bogeyman in the Czech Republic is bubák or strašidlo.

Egypt – The “Abu Rigl Maslukha” (ابو رجل مسلوخة), which translates to the “Man With Burnt/Skinned 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.

In East Yorkshire, children were warned that if they stole from orchards they might be eaten by a goblin or demon called Awd Goggie.

Yorkshire children were also warned that if they were naughty the Great Black Bird would come and carry them away.

In Devon, local variations of Spring-Heeled Jack included a “bogeyman” that “danced in the road and leapt over hedges with the greatest of ease”, with reported sightings in North Devon and locals describing “haunted” stretches of road in the South Devon towns of St Marychurch and Torquay, beginning in the 1840s.

The Gooseberry Wife was said to guard gooseberry bushes on the Isle of Wight and took the form of a large hairy caterpillar.

Churnmilk Peg in West Yorkshire was a female goblin who guarded nut thickets until they could be harvested and would always be seen smoking a pipe. Melsh Dick was her male counterpart and performed the same function.

Tom Dockin had iron teeth that he used to devour bad children.

Black Annis was a hag with a blue face and iron claws who lived in a cave in the Dane Hills of Leicestershire. She ventured forth at night in search of children to devour.

Grindylow, Jenny Greenteeth and Nelly Longarms were grotesque hags who lived in ponds and rivers and dragged children beneath the water if they got too close.

Peg Powler is a hag who inhabits the River Tees.

Other nursery bogies include Mumpoker, Tankerabogus who drags children into his deep, dark pit and Tom-Poker who lives in dark closets and holes under stairs.

Finland – The equivalent of the Bogeyman in Finland is mörkö (Swedish: Mårran). 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 large, frightening, dark blue, ghost-like creature. The children’s game “Kuka pelkää Mustaa Pekkaa?” (“Who’s Afraid of Black Peter?”) was also commonly played among children through to the 1960s and ’70s, especially in urban settings, as a backyard game (see Germany’s “Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann?”).

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).

Georgia – In addition to a “Bag Man” very similar to its namesakes from other cultures, in Georgia, a fictional creature called “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; nevertheless, Bua can “bite you”, or “take you away”. It also can “steal” something: “You can’t have more candies now—Bua took them.” There may be an etymological link to “bu”, the Georgian word for owl, which makes night sounds scary to children.

Germany – The Bogeyman is known as Der schwarze Mann (“the black man”). “Schwarz” does not refer to the color 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 beds 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?”), and an old traditional folk song Es tanzt ein Bi-Ba-Butzemann in unserm Haus herum (“A Bi-Ba-Bogeyman Dances Around in Our House”).

Greece – In Greek, the common translation of “Bogeyman” is “Baboulas” (Μπαμπούλας), which is pronounced babʊlas. It’s used by the parents to scare their children so they won’t misbehave, probably. This creature is supposed to be some kind of cannibal that eats the children. That’s why the most used phrase about the creature is “Ο Μπαμπούλας θα έρθει και θα σε φάει”, which means “The Bogeyman will come and eat you”.

Guyana – In Guyana, the “Bogeyman” is known as a “Jumbi”. It is a popular belief that he only lives in the dark. It is said that he lives in the closet and under the bed. He is used to scare children to eat their food, so they can defend themselves against him. “Jumbies” eat little boys and girls, starting with the leg, and ending with the brains.

Haiti – In Haiti, there is a popular belief that a tall man, with legs two floors high, 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”, English “midnight”, hence meaning the “master of midnight”).

Tonton Macoute or Uncle Gunnysack was a Haitian bogeyman who would snare misbehaving children and eat them for breakfast. The MVSN, a secret police force of Haiti, used this myth as a tool for control as many Tonton Macoutes were Voodoo adherents.

Papa Doc was an alter-ego of Former Haitian President Francois Duvalier. He parlayed Haitian mythology and presented himself as Baron Samedi the Voodoo Loa of Death. His fashion was designed to enforce the mystique of his personality cult, as he dressed like Baron Samedi and hid his eyes with sunglasses.

Hejaz, Saudi Arabia – أمنا الغولة والدوجيرة or “Dojairah and Umna al Ghola”, which means “Our mother the Monster”, is used to scare children when they misbehave or walk alone outside.

Hungary – The Hungarian equivalent of the Bogeyman is the Mumus, which is a monster-like creature, and the Zsákos Ember, a man with a sack, which is the literal meaning of his name. A third creature is the Rézfaszú bagoly (“Copperpenis Owl”), a giant owl with a copper penis.

Iceland – The Icelandic equivalent of the Bogeyman is Grýla, a female troll who would take misbehaving children and eat them during 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.
Urdu speaking population refer to the bogeyman-like creature by names such as Shaitan/Shaytaan, Bhoot, Jin Baba, which mean satan, ghost, Djinn respectively.

Hindi speaking population refer to the bogeyman-like creature as Baba and Bhoot.

Bihar – Parents use the demon name Bhakolwa for this purpose. The terms Petona and Kaatu are also used.

South India – In Karnataka, the demon “Goggayya” (roughly meaning ‘terrible man’) can be treated as counterpart of the 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 the bogeyman is Boochodu. In central Kerala, the bogeyman is referred to as “Kokkachi”, who will “take away” children for disobeying their parents or misbehaving in any manner. In South Kerala, the bogeyman is called “Oochandi”. Among Konkani-speaking people of the Western Coast of India, “Gongo” is the Bogeyman equivalent.

Among Marathi language speaking people (predominantly of Maharashtra), parents threaten the misbehaving children with a male ghost called “Bāgul Buā” (बागुल बुवा). In general, the “Buā” is supposed to kidnap children when they misbehave or do not sleep.

Indonesia – In Indonesia, Wewe Gombel is a ghost that kidnaps children mistreated by their parents. She keeps the children in her nest atop an Arenga pinnata palm tree and does not harm them. She takes care of the children as a grandmother until the parents become aware of what they have done. If the parents decide to mend their ways and truly want their children back, Wewe Gombel will return them unharmed. This ghost is named Wewe Gombel because it originated in an event that took place in Bukit Gombel, Semarang.

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.

Iraq’s ancient folklore has the saalua, a half-witch half-demon ghoul that “is used by parents to scare naughty children”. She is briefly mentioned in a tale of the 1001 Nights, and is known in some other Persian Gulf countries as well.

Italy – In Italy, “L’uomo nero” (meaning “the black man”) is a demon that can appear as a black man or black ghost without legs, often used by adults for scaring their children when they don’t want to sleep. In some parts of the country, it’s known also as “babau”.

Marabbecca is a malevolent water monster from the mythology of Sicily that lived in wells and reservoirs and was said to come up and drag children that played too close down into the water to drown.
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 – Mangtae harabeoji, (망태 할아버지) which translates to “Straw sack grandpa,” is an old man that puts misbehaving children into his straw sac and takes them away.

Lithuania – referred to as the Baubas, an evil spirit with long lean arms, wrinkly fingers and red eyes. He harasses people by pulling their hair or stifling them.

Luxembourg – De béise Monni (the evil uncle), De Kropemann (the hookman), De Bö, and de schwaarze Mann (the black man) are Luxembourg’s equivalents of the Bogeyman. Luxembourg’s many variations of the bogeyman may be the result of its strong cultural attachment to its neighbour countries due to the country’s small size. The Kropemann lives in the sewerage and uses his hook to catch children by the nose if they stand too close to a storm drain, drawing them down to him. Parents warn their naughty children that the béise Monni alias Bö alias schwaarze Mann, will come to take them away if they don’t behave.

Macedonia – Apart from babaroga, Macedonian people have a bogeyman called Strasilo (which means something like “frightener” because “strav” means fear/scare) which only comes out at night, hides under beds, in forests, caves, basements, etc. It is said to grab and eat children (usually bad ones).

Malaysia – in the East Coast state of Kelantan the word “Mmugo” is used to describe the unknown entity to scare children and teenagers. Mmugo doesn’t have any specific shape or appearance and could be anything from unknown savage animals or mythical creatures. Sometimes the word Mmugo is also use to refer unknown animals that caused damage to crops and fruits in the orchards.

Malta – Kaw Kaw or Gaw Gaw, was a grey, slimy creature that roamed the streets at night. It could smell a person’s guilt and enter their homes, through cracks and fissures, by extending and contracting its snail-like body. Once it was inside their rooms, it would flash them a ghastly grin, with its huge, toothless mouth, scaring them witless.

Mexico – There is the Robaniños (“kidnapper of kids”), a person with whom a child is warned about going out without supervision.

Myanmar – Children are threatened with Pashu Gaung Phyat (ပသျှူးခေါင်းဖြတ်), 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 through to the 1970s as ferocious headhunters, it is a mystery why Burmese use the faraway Pashus as bogeymen.

Plaque at Itum Bahal, Kathmandu showing Gurumapa

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. Itum Bahal of inner Kathmandu and the Tinkhya open space in front of the Bhadrakali temple in the centre of Kathmandu are associated with the fable of Gurumapa.

Pakistan – The Mamma is a large apelike creature that lives in the mountains and ventures forth to kidnap young girls. He will carry them back to his cave where he licks their palms and the soles of their feet which makes them permanently unable to flee.

Panama – In Panama, children are warned that if they are naughty, La Tulivieja will come to get them. She was a spirit who was cursed by God for drowning her child, and transformed into a hideous monster with a pockmarked face, long and bristly hair, clawed hands, a cat’s body and hooved feet. She was also cursed to forever look for her drowned child.

Philippines – Pugot (only in most Ilocano regions), Sipay, Mamu, or Mumu. In Kapampangan culture it is known as the Mánguang Anak or the Child-Snatcher.

Poland – “Baba Jaga” or “Muma” is a monster (often portrayed as a witch living in the forest) that kidnaps badly behaving children and presumably eats them. It is referenced in a children’s game of the same name, which involves one child being blindfolded, and other children trying to avoid being caught.
Roman Republic – The military successes of Hannibal Barca’s Campaign on the Italian Peninsula during the Second Punic War had caused so much damage and distress to the Romans that mothers began to threaten their children with brutal tales of Hannibal and warnings of being taken away by Hannibal if they misbehaved, making him the Roman Bogeyman by definition.

Russia – Children are warned that Babayka (or Baba Yaga) will come for them at night if they behave badly.

Saudi Arabia – Abu Shalawlaw (أبو شلولو) is a Bogeyman-like creature said by parents to come to eat children who are disobedient, e.g. by not going to sleep on time or not completing their homework.

Misbehaving children were warned that a goblin or demon known as the bodach would come down the chimney and take them.

The each-uisge is the Scottish version of the water horse, a monster that lives in seas and lochs and usually takes the form of a horse. A cautionary tale tells how the each-uisge persuaded seven little girls to get on its back before carrying them into the water to be devoured.

Serbia – Bauk is an animal-like mythical creature in Serbian mythology. Bauk is described as hiding in dark places, holes or abandoned houses, waiting to grab, carry away, and devour its victim; it can be scared away by light and noise. It has clumsy gait (bauljanje), and its onomatopoeia is bau (Serbian pronunciation: [bau]).

Singapore – The locals have a similar reference to the Bogeyman, typically told to young children as “Ah Bu Neh Neh”, or in some cases, “Matah”, catching them when they are guilty of naughty acts.

Although “Matah” actually stands for “Mata-Mata” in Malay, which means a spy or spies, it is generally used by the locals as a nickname for the police.

South Africa – The Tokoloshe or Tikoloshe is a dwarfish creature of Xhosa and Zulu mythology conjured up by sangomas (traditional healers). It wanders around causing mischief and frightening children.

It is also described as a small, muscular, hairy witch-familiar with an unusually large penis. It may visit women in their dreams and sexually assault them.

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. El Sacamantecas (“Fat extractor” in Spanish) is a kind of bogeyman or criminal characterized by killing for human fat and has been used to scare children into behaving.

Sweden – In Sweden, there is no counterpart to the Bogeyman. The common reference to Monstret under sängen, which essentially means “the monster under the bed”, refers to children’s own excuses for not being able to go to sleep. Näcken and Brunnsgubben were previously used to scare children away from wells and dangerous water.

Switzerland – In Switzerland, the Bogeyman is called Böllima or Böögg (pron.ˈbøk) 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, a figure of the Böögg is burnt. In Southern Switzerland, people have the same traditions as in Italy.

Taiwan – Among Minnan Taiwanese, Grandmother Tiger (虎姑婆 / Hóo-koo-pô) is a figure used to scare disobedient children.

Trinidad and Tobago – Most Trinbagonians (mostly in the rural demographic) use 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”.

Turkey – The Öcü ([œˈdʒy]) is an equivalent monster in Turkish culture. Much like its English language counterpart, the form, powers, or even general temperament of the creature is undefined to the degree that it is unclear whether the word refers to a single being or a category or species of mythological creatures. Perhaps appropriately, the Öcü does not appear in traditional stories or folklore as a character, but is more relegated to the role of convenient parenting tool used by parents to get children to behave. The short and easy-to-pronounce nature of the word helps younger children learn and express the idea easily, in contrast to mythological figures with longer, more complicated names like ghosts (“hayalet”) or the giant wandering ghoul known as “Gulyabani”. The name “Öcü” is believed to be the corrupted form of the imported Arabic word al-jinnī (الجني), which is anglicized as Genie – the supernatural creatures in early Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology, often described as beings created from a “smokeless” and “scorching fire”. While genies exist in Turkish folklore as cin ([dʒin], singular) (cinler, [dʒinˈleɾ], plural), they are separate beings from the Öcü.

Ukraine – Babay is a monster who is believed to punish naughty children.

United Arab Emirates – Children were scared with (Om Al- Khadar wa Alleef) (أم الخضر واللّيف) which means (Mother of green and leef “bark”), which takes the appearance of a tall woman with very long hair that flows in the wind. This name is used both in the UAE and in some neighboring countries like Bahrain. This mythical creature is usually used by parents to make their children stay inside after sunset and go to sleep (scaring them with her). The name was inspired by the Palm tree because of the scary sounds that come out of it when the wind blows, and also because it’s high and its leaves are so long that it resembles a woman.

United States – The Bogeyman may be called “Boogerman” or “Boogermonster” in rural areas of the American South (“booger” being the American English equivalent of the British English “bogey”), 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 caricature masks would make fun of politicians, frighten children into being good, and shake their masks at young women and chase them around. Male participants in this “Booger Dance” were referred to as the “Booger Men”.[44] In some Midwestern states, the boogeyman scratches at the window. In Eastern Iowa he is called the Korn Stalker [45] 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, while in others he is a tall figure in a black hooded cloak who puts children in a sack. It is said that a wart can be transmitted to someone by the boogeyman.

The Jersey Devil, which originated in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey in the early 18th century, was originally described as having a horse’s head, bat wings, cloven hooves, and a serpent’s tail. Regarding the famous Jersey Devil sightings of 1909, Loren Coleman and Ivan T. Sanderson offered the explanation that they were part of an elaborate real estate hoax, used by developers as a boogeyman figure to frighten residents into selling their property at lower prices.

Bloody Bones, also known as Rawhead or Tommy Rawhead, is a boogeyman of the American South.[48] Rawhead and Bloody Bones are sometimes regarded as two individual creatures or two separate parts of the same monster. One is a bare skull that bites its victims and its companion is a dancing headless skeleton.[49] Bloody Bones tales originated in Britain.

The Nalusa Falaya (“Long Black Being”) is a ghost being of Choctaw mythology described as a tall spindly humanoid that can slither like a snake or become a shadow. It may frighten children from staying out too late and can bewitch hunters.

Cipelahq (or Chebelakw) is a dangerous bird spirit of Wabanaki folklore, used in stories to scare children into obeying their parents. Chebelakw has an unearthly cry and resembles a large diving owl, with only its head and talons visible. Similar monsters called Stinkini and Big Owl were found in Seminole and Apache mythologies, respectively.

He has been interested in the paranormal since he was 11yrs old. He has had many experiences with both ghosts and UFO's and it has just solidified his beliefs. He set up this site to catalogue as much information about the paranormal in one location. He is the oldest of three and moved from the UK to the USA in 2001.