Bogeyman Myth in Earth | World Anvil
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Created by Peekajinx
"I do have odd habits. I check under my bed every night for the bogeyman. That's just a little thing, though."
-- Tori Spelling


In every culture there is some version of a bogeyman (also spelled boogeyman). There is no real description of what a bogeyman is or whether they are even male or female, but every culture seems to have its own version that follows a certain theme. For eons bogeyman stories have been told to children in an effort to get them to behave. In the United States, they are generally thought of as hiding under beds or in the closet. It's not actually known how far back the bogeyman myth goes, but evidence of the myth being told has been seen as far back as the 1500s and earlier.

Historical Basis

It has been theorized that the bogeyman was created to personify the fear of the dark and unknown. Until recently, it was thought to only have been used to frighten children, but now that is being questioned. Saccadic dysfunction in children is something that has been documented fairly often. While not every child suffers from this, it is not uncommon. The dysfunction is thought to possibly be caused by the brain and eyes still developing. The common fear of the bogeyman in the closet that many children experience is in reality them being able to see Species X-10. However, the myth of the bogeyman is so prevalent that adults tended to wave off their fears, convincing the children they were just seeing things and that there was nothing to be afraid of.


The bogeyman myth is found all over the world. While different cultures have different names for it, they all personify the same ideas and fears. While usually targeting children, some will target anyone who is guilty of doing something wrong. Many variations may only serve to scare the people they are stalking by appearing as a shadow in the bedroom, chasing someone, or even just scratching at the window. Others are much more dark and consist of carrying off naughty children to be eaten. For examples of variations, please see below.

Variations & Mutation

  • Sack Man: origin: many Latin countries - portrayed as a man with a sack who carries off bad children.
  • El Coco: origin: Spain - a ghost with a pumpkin head that comes for children who don't sleep.
  • Babau: origin: Mediterranean - portrayed as a tall man with a heavy black coat and black hood that hides his face that may take disobedient children to a scary place.
  • Baba Yaga: origin: Russia - steals children in the night if they misbehave.
  • Butzemann: origin: Germany - gnome-like, demonic, or ghostly in appearance, it hides in the shadows and corners of a room and carries children off.
  • Wendigo: origin: United States - cannibalistic shapeshifter in Native American lore that people who commit sins may turn into.
  • Slenderman: origin: the Internet - tall, thin man with long limbs, no face, and usually wears a suit; stalks and abducts people, especially children.
** This is by no means a complete list. This list is only to serve the purposes of showing some of the different types of bogeymen found throughout the world.
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27 Aug, 2018 21:36

Some editorial notes:   1. Since we're on a wordcount, you could probably cut "(also spelled boogeyman)" without your article losing anything.   2. "The fascinating thing about the bogeyman myth is there is no description of what a bogeyman looks like or even whether it is male or female." - I feel this is a case where it would read better with "show, don't tell" and weave a description that makes it seem fascinating instead of telling us it is :)   3. "frighten children, but now that" - Probably an unnecessary comma?   4. "While not every child suffers from this, it is not uncommon, and it is thought to possibly be caused by the brain and eyes still developing." - There's something about this sentence that reads a little clunky. Maybe merge it with the previous sentence and rewrite it in two separate bits and, call out the Saccadic dysfunction specifically there?   5. "Knowing this, it is possible that the fear children experience of the bogeyman in the closet was in reality them being able to see Species X-10." - It feels like there's a conflict here between it being written from the perspective of someone in the universe and the all-knowing narrator.. Do you think so too?   6. "However, the myth of the bogeyman is so prevalent, that adults tended to" second comma can go   7. "convincing them they were just seeing things and that there was nothing to be afraid of." Convincing who? Themselves or the kids?   Bonus points for including the Slenderman. <3 It's a good piece and it made me curious to read about X-10, which I will definitely do tomorrow.

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
28 Aug, 2018 01:01

1. As far as the word count goes, I have all my articles written and on the stream they said they wouldn't penalize if you go a little over, but 6200 is their cutoff. I'm within range, so for now I'll probably leave that unless I need to cut something.

2. I made some updates to this!

3. Actually the comma is fine, I use the conjunction "but" and the phrases on either side of it could be considered whole sentences so a comma would be used.

4. Made some changes here!

5. Hmm, had to think about this one. Reworded it a bit.

6. Deleted :D

7. True point. Fixed!

Appreciate the feedback! Also, I couldn't resist including Slenderman since he has now become a modern day bogeyman!

28 Aug, 2018 01:30

Hey I noticed your comment is using -- so I opened it up to check and noticed it looks like you're adding the author manually with formatting. So you know you can do the following for quotes. [quote]"I do have odd habits. I check under my bed every night for the bogeyman. That's just a little thing, though."|Tori Spelling[/quote]   Anything after the |pipe| becomes the author. :)   Anyway, onto my comment!   I really like the tie-in to saccadic movements. It reminds me of a tumblr post I saw recently talking about them and a horror story written on the concept, was that an inspiration? Either way, it's really cool and creepy, and makes you fear a process of your own body.   How does this tie into your setting and potential plot? I assume this is the creature hiding among us but I feel like that aspect could be strengthened with quotes of someone who has encountered one. I know word count is a scarcity in this competition, so you might have to tighten up the writing to add that but I think it would add a lot.   Cool article!

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28 Aug, 2018 01:36

Good to know about the quote! I wasn't aware that's how it worked. I'm not sure what tumblr post you saw.. it was something Brandon and I had discussed before and I actually did do some Google searches to see if anything similar had been done but didn't find anything noticeable.


As for the setting & plot, I did try to tie it in here: "The common fear of the bogeyman in the closet that many children experience is in reality them being able to see Species X-10." I could maybe add some more though, I would need to cut something from somewhere else to find the words though. :/

28 Aug, 2018 05:58

I have always been a fan of applying scientific/technical explanations to supernatural/otherworldly phenomena. The notion that people who think they see a bogeyman are actually seeing something real is absolutely chilling. A question that comes to mind is whether or not species x-10 is aware of this superstition and actually plays into it for their own gain?

28 Aug, 2018 06:01

That is an interesting question. I'll have to think on that one. My initial thought would be no. While they are intelligent, I don't think they really care about humans and their superstitions and mythologies. They do know when they are seen and might get a kick out of scaring someone with saccadic dysfunction, especially if they are just bored and not especially hungry. (This is, of course, before the entire human race becomes aware of them.)

28 Aug, 2018 13:24

Love the article, but one thing I would like you to add is: On the list, El Coco is also known in some Latin American countries as Venezuela and Colombia. Also, I think it is also present in Mexico and Ecuador but not sure about those two.   There is also a woman called "La Llorona" (The Cryer) that exists in Southern Venezuela and Northern Brazil, maybe you can add her. She is dressed with a white dress covered in blood and searches for alone or awake children in the middle of the night. Her crying can be heard at the distance sometimes.

28 Aug, 2018 17:42

That is true about El Coco! Really, El Coco is found in most latin countries, but it seemed to originate in Spain. La Llorona sounds interesting, I will have to look her up. Unfortunately because of the word count for the competition, it would be hard to continue the list at this time. However, I am doing more research and plan to do more with this later on!

28 Aug, 2018 18:56

Works for me ^^ nice article. DM me when it is updated

28 Aug, 2018 14:49

I love this article! Although I'm curious about the inclusion of Slenderman. It says his origin is the Internet, so does that mean when he was created as just some creepypasta he also became real? Or does he have some other sort of origin?

28 Aug, 2018 17:45

He became "real" when the internet collective not only kept him alive, but further expanded on his story. He did start as a creepypasta, but since has been featured in many games and has several movies now. Fun fact: he was inspired by HP Lovecraft.

28 Aug, 2018 23:18

Sounds very weird "bogeyMAN isn't particularly male or female " And I can tell you the version of my country if you want to include more

29 Aug, 2018 00:04

huMAN isn't particularly male or female either XD And I always love to hear about bogeymen from other cultures! I'm not sure if I will be able to add it yet due to word limit constraints in the competition, but I do plan to add to this later on!

29 Aug, 2018 14:54

I my country ( Romania )we have 2 names for in "Babau"(you already talk about him ) and "omul negru "(omul negru means the black man ).Don't exist a universal story, in generally the parent will say "I will call the omul negru to eat you if you don't [insert action here ]".Even ifor isn't a universal story "omul negru " is în general description is something like "a big black man whit horns and claws and sometimes even ugly teeth but every parent have his own varianta