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Bugbear sculpture in Thieles Garten (de), Bremerhaven (2006)

A bugbear is a legendary creature or type of hobgoblin comparable to the bogeyman (or bugaboo or babau), and other creatures of folklore, all of which were historically used in some cultures to frighten disobedient children.[1]


Its name is derived from the Middle English word "bugge" (a frightening thing), or perhaps the old Welsh word bwg (evil spirit or goblin),[2] or old Scots bogill (goblin), and has cognates in German bögge or böggel-mann (goblin), and most probably also English "bogeyman" and American English "bugaboo".

In medieval England, the Bugbear was depicted as a creepy bear that lurked in the woods to scare children. It was described in this manner in an English translation of a 1565 Italian play The Buggbear.[2]

In a modern context, the term bugbear may also mean pet peeve.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Bugbear (バックベアード, Bukkubeādo) is one of the main villains in Gegege no Kitaro, depicted as the leader of all non-Japanese monsters, first appearing in 1966 in the form of a round creature with an enormous hypnotic eyeball.
  • In several installments of the Castlevania video game franchise, bugbears appear as common enemies the main characters encounter throughout the games, appearing similar to the Gegege no Kitaro version. Such games in the series include Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, albeit having its name mistransliterated from the Japanese in the latter as "buckbaird".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. Simpson, E. Weiner (eds), ed. (1989). "Raven". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. 
  2. ^ a b Briggs, Katherine M. (1976). A Dictionary of Fairies. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 52. ISBN 0-14-004753-0. 
  3. ^ "Definition of BUGBEAR". www.merriam-webster.com. 
  4. ^ "Giant In the Playground Games". www.giantitp.com.