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This article is about the legendary creature. For other uses, see Bugbear (disambiguation).

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]

Bugbears are a goblinoid race in Dungeons & Dragons and media which reference it, for example The Order of the Stick webcomic.[4]

A different kind of bugbear, a hybrid between a bear and a bee, appeared in one episode of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic cartoon series.

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. ^ merriam-webster.com
  4. ^ www.giantitp.com