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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 or cucuy), 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 The Buggbears,[2] an adaptation, with additions, from Grazzini’s La Spiritata (‘The Possessed [Woman]’, 1561).[3]

In a modern context, the term bugbear may also mean pet peeve.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. Simpson; E. Weiner, eds. (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. ^ Bond, R. Warwick. "Early Plays from the Italian" (PDF). warburg.sas.ac.uk. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  4. ^ "Definition of BUGBEAR". www.merriam-webster.com.