bo·​gey·​man | \ ˈbu̇-gē-ˌman How to pronounce bogeyman (audio) , ˈbō-, ˈbü-, ˈbu̇-gər- How to pronounce bogeyman (audio) \
variants: or less commonly bogyman

Definition of bogeyman

1 : a monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children
2 : a terrifying or dreaded person or thing : bugbear

Examples of bogeyman in a Sentence

My aunt used to say to my sister and me, “The bogeyman will get you if you're bad.” a politician who is the familiar bogeyman of conservatives
Recent Examples on the Web Lost in Klein’s gloss is not just the staggering amount of money that has been spent turning people like me into reprehensible bogeymen, but why it has been spent. Stephen Metcalf, The New Yorker, "Ezra Klein’s “Why We’re Polarized” and the Drawbacks of Explainer Journalism," 11 Mar. 2020 But the bogeyman status of coronaviruses has not diminished. The Economist, "Emerging diseases A new human coronavirus has appeared in China," 18 Jan. 2020 By the 1990s, the bogeyman of Democratic voter fraud was becoming a key element in the GOP’s core message. Zachary Roth, The New Republic, "Why the GOP is poised to create large-scale voting chaos this year," 30 Mar. 2020 Jean-Claude Juncker, the bogeyman of British Brexiteers, retired as president of the European Commission and was replaced by Ursula von der Leyen, who was the longest-serving member of Angela Merkel’s cabinet in Germany. The Economist, "The world this year," 18 Dec. 2019 Increased spending is music to the ears of the MLB Players Association, which has decried the payroll retrenchment across baseball under the current CBA with the luxury tax looming as baseball’s bogeyman. Globe Staff,, "NBA and MLB show us what change for the worse looks like," 11 Feb. 2020 Some say the hashtag #AdamSchiffROCKS was made viral by bots paid for by conservatives’ favorite bogeyman George Soros. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "Russian trolls and bots are successful because we know they exist," 30 Jan. 2020 While late-night hosts, Saturday Night Live and parody shows like Our Cartoon President got repetitive years ago, even before his election win, Trump has been the bogeyman of dramas from Scandal to American Horror Story. Judy Berman, Time, "The Good Place Became the Last Great Sitcom on Network TV by Daring Its Audience to Be Better," 23 Jan. 2020 Donald Trump dangled the bogeyman of Kaepernick at his rallies, whipping up racist resentment. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Colin Kaepernick’s Contested Workout and the Power Plays of the N.F.L.," 18 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bogeyman.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bogeyman

1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for bogeyman

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The first known use of bogeyman was in 1890

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Cite this Entry

“Bogeyman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for bogeyman


How to pronounce bogeyman (audio) How to pronounce bogeyman (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bogeyman

: an imaginary monster that is used to frighten children
: a person who is hated or feared by a group of people

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Spanish Central: Translation of bogeyman

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