This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Word to use today: bogey.

Bogey is a word with a host of meanings: an evil spirit; something persistently annoying; a score of one-over-par on a golf hole; an unidentified or enemy aircraft; a detective; or something disgusting in, or that's come out of, a nose.

I'm afraid it's the last meaning that's especially interesting to me. When I went to Ireland a couple of years ago to talk at the Children's Literature Festival it was the one word I used that people didn't understand.

In one place, the wonderfully named Sallynoggin, the word I should have used was mer-mer (sorry, I don't know how to spell that, but that was how you said it). A dozen miles up the road, however, no one had ever heard of a mer-mer - or a bogey, for that matter.

There it was, rather delightfully, a snotter!

Word to use today: bogey. The word seems to be related to the Scots word bogill and the Welsh bygel, meaning scarecrow, and perhaps to the Middle Welsh bwg, which means ghost, and the Cornish buccaboo, the devil.

1 comment:

  1. There are a few different words for ghost in modern Welsh (just as there are in English). Bwci and bwgan can also mean bogey. Bwgan and bwbach can also mean scarecrow.

    As for the other sort of bogey, I would probably say llysnafedd, which can be translated as slime.