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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.

In the Webcomic Skin Deep, among the legendary creatures who can adopt human disguises are two Bugbear characters of some significance; a musician/prankster named Alec Hyde in England, and Myra Reinkemeyer, a Bugbear whose faulty disguise forces her to wear an eyepatch over her glowing eye, who works in a horror attraction. Bugbears are expanded upon in this comic, being shown to be able to melt into and out of shadows, mentally track all living things in the immediate area, attract arthropods such as spiders, summon frightening animals, and cast illusions, and a whole host of other powers evolved to frighten others. The comic also claims that the creatures never really posed a threat to children, but allowed the stories to be told nonetheless. However, in the comic's universe, Bugbears historically would frighten children and chase them home if they ever ran away, although it was done in good fun and for the children's own safety.[5]

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
  5. ^ [1]