Tag: Boogermen

  1. Of Boogers and Boogermen

    In their landmark book, Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English, authors Michael Montgomery and Joseph Hall define booger as “a demon or ghost; a person having a ghostlike, disheveled, or mischievous appearance. The term is often used to threaten children to make them behave.” Likewise, a “boogerman” is a “Ghost or hobgoblin; the devil.”

    Many residents of the Great Smoky Mountains have been quoted with using the term, including Horace Kephart, Hodge Mathes, Sam Styles, Glenn Cardwell, and Sara Cole. Yet the word did not originate here. Nearly every culture has some sort of bogeyman used by parents and guardians to persuade children to follow the straight and narrow. One of the most closely related terms, bugge, comes from Middle English and describes a ghost or hobgoblin.

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