Number one for English language teachers

Word of the week: Bogey

Type: Reference material

Are you part of a losing team, bad at golf or suffering from a blocked nose? Well, according to Tim Bowen, you could have a triple case of the bogies. Take note of this unpleasant Word of the week or the bogeyman  might get you!

The word bogey has several meanings. Entertainingly, the first meaning given in the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (and prefaced as ‘informal British English’) is ‘a piece of nasal mucus’.

The other meanings of the word may be less unpleasant but all have negative connotations. Most football clubs have a bogey team, meaning a team that either always beats them or against which they habitually enjoy bad luck, as in ‘Bolton are rapidly becoming Arsenal’s bogey team’. In the sport of golf, a bogey represents a score of one above the expected score (known as ‘par’) for a particular hole. So if the par for a hole is three and it takes you four shots to complete the hole, this is a bogey. In children’s stories the bogeyman is an imaginary evil creature often used by exasperated parents to try to force young children to behave, as in ‘Behave or the bogeyman will get you’. 

The word bogey is commonly thought to be connected to a number of words in different languages that relate to the supernatural. Among these are the Welsh word bwg (pronounced ‘boog’) and the Slavonic bog, meaning ‘god’.

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