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Not to be confused with Am Bodach.

A bodach (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [ˈpɔt̪əx]; plural bodaich), as borrowed into English, is a mythical spirit or creature, rather like the bogeyman.[1] In Modern Scottish Gaelic the word simply means "old man", colloquially often used affectionately. Historically its meaning is "mature person", from bod "penis" and the suffix -ach, literally "someone who has a penis".[2]

In folklore[edit]

The bodach is a type of Scottish bugbear or evil spirit that comes down the chimney to fetch naughty children, used as a cautionary tale or bogeyman figure to frighten children into good behaviour.[3]

A related being known as the Bodach Glas, or the Dark Grey Man, is considered an omen of death.[3]

In regions of Wales and Scotland, a bodach is a term for an imp or a faery, often one of the shapeshifting, mischievous variety. This term, though derogatory in nature, was often used with affection, translating closest to "scoundrel" or "rascal".

In literature[edit]

  • Bodachs are seen at the beginning of Moonshine by Rob Thurman.
  • Bodachs occasionally appear in Charles de Lint's books of mythic fiction.
  • The term "Bodach" is used to describe shadow-like creatures - invisible to most people - that appear at locations before disasters in the books Odd Thomas, Forever Odd, Brother Odd, and Odd Hours by Dean Koontz. These can only be seen by Odd.
  • Bodachs appear as evil supernatural soldiers, or goblins, in Alan Garner's fantasy novel The Moon of Gomrath.
  • In W. B. Yeats' 1903 prose version of The Hour-Glass, the character of the Fool remarks at one point during the play that a bodach he met upon the roadside attempted to trick him with a riddle into letting the creature near his coin.

"A bodach is a mythical beast of the British Isles, a sly thing that comes down chimneys during the night to carry away naughty children." - Dean Koontz, Forever Odd

"Bodachs are ink-black, fluid in shape, with no more substance than shadows. Soundless, as big as an average man, they frequently slink like cats, low to the ground." - Dean Koontz, Brother Odd

In movies[edit]

The movie The Eye starring Jessica Alba shows shadowy, otherworld creatures that escort the dead away, matching the idea of bodach. Like in Odd Thomas novels, the bodach in The Eye also become numerous just before a tragic incident where many people will die.

In music[edit]

Na'Bodach [sic] is a band located in the United States of America, specializing in Celtic music with two releases: "An Intelagent Design" (2006) and "Knickers Down, Bottoms Up", (2003).[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leslie Dunkling. A dictionary of epithets and terms of address Routledge, UK 1ST edition (June 27, 1990) ISBN 978-0-415-00761-0 (hardback) 978-0-203-19195-8 (electronic)
  2. ^ MacBain, A. An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language Gairm 1896 (reprint 1982) ISBN 901771-68-6
  3. ^ a b Briggs, Katharine (1976). An Encyclopedia of Fairies. Pantheon Books. pp. 29, 52. ISBN 0394409183.