Origin of the word: “nightmare”

 Everyone knows what the meaning of “night” is. As for “mare”, well, one of the meanings is a “female horse”. So a nightmare should be a female horse that appears in your dream. But generally we don’t dream about horses. Usually we have terrible dreams about falling off a building/mountain, or appearing for an exam when we are totally unprepared. I understand that in Old English the word “mare” meant an evil spirit. And since it was evil, it was assumed to be a “she” rather than a “he”! Once again showing how sexist this language is. It was believed that this evil spirit sat on people who were sleeping causing a feeling of suffocation.

S. Upendran, The Hindu – KYE March 26, 2002 

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4 thoughts on “Origin of the word: “nightmare”

  1. As a student of Old English, I can only tell you that this is absurd. The basis for word genders (masculine, feminine, and neutral) is unknown and the word was NOT feminine because it was evil… Also, the ‘mare’ part of the word certainly does not come from horse, in this you are right. It comes from the German part of the word Goblin.

    “But generally we don’t dream about horses. Usually we have terrible dreams about falling off a building/mountain, or appearing for an exam when we are totally unprepared.”
    This post is so ridiculous I can only hope the author was joking! This part is totally irrelevant to your explanation, and an absurd overgeneralization. I cannot think of one instance in my life where I had a nightmare about falling off a building or cliff; indeed, the chances of having such a nightmare are probably as good as the chances of having a nightmare of a horse (which I can assure you many people have).
    I will never again use this website as a reference as the credibility of the site is completely shot by this post.

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