bo·​gey·​man ˈbu̇-gē-ˌman How to pronounce bogeyman (audio)
ˈbu̇-gər- How to pronounce bogeyman (audio)
variants or less commonly bogyman
: a monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children
: a terrifying or dreaded person or thing : bugbear

Example Sentences

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 For years, carbon dioxide has been the bogeyman of climate change, and rightly so. Tianyi Sun, CNN, 20 Oct. 2022 Rather than arguing on the merits, conservatives here are invoking their favorite bogeyman in an attempt to persuade voters to nix the law: voter fraud. Yvonne Abraham,, 28 Sep. 2022 More than a third of Democrats’ take came from a single man – hedge fund mogul George Soros, a longtime bogeyman for conservatives and target of conspiracy theorists. Amy Nakamura, USA TODAY, 6 Oct. 2022 Buckenham believes the shift from bots being a neutral word to a loaded one occurred in 2016, when bots became the bogeyman that supposedly won Donald Trump the US presidential election. WIRED, 27 Sep. 2022 Tim Mak’s Misfire, which traces a set of crises at the National Rifle Association, shows how the decline of the gun rights organization deprived the left of its most valuable bogeyman. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 9 June 2022 For some people, Leatherface is their ultimate bogeyman. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Feb. 2022 Satanism might have been a bogeyman of the eighties, but Sparks’s other subjects cannot be similarly dismissed. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 25 July 2022 In a recent conversation with THR, Yarkin also discusses her worst fears including her childhood bogeyman. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bogeyman was in 1890

Dictionary Entries Near bogeyman

Cite this Entry

“Bogeyman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



bo·​gey·​man ˈbu̇g-ē-ˌman How to pronounce bogeyman (audio) ˈbō-gē- How to pronounce bogeyman (audio)
: an imaginary monster used in threatening children
: a terrifying or dreaded person or thing

More from Merriam-Webster on bogeyman

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.