Etymology
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nightmare (n.)

c. 1300, "an evil female spirit afflicting men (or horses) in their sleep with a feeling of suffocation," compounded from night + mare (n.3) "goblin that causes nightmares, incubus." The meaning shifted mid-16c. from the incubus to the suffocating sensation it causes. Sense of "any bad dream" is recorded by 1829; that of "very distressing experience" is from 1831.

Cognate with Middle Dutch nachtmare, German Nachtmahr. An Old English word for it was niht-genga. An 11c. gloss gives, for Latin Echo, Anglo-Saxon wudumær, a "wood-mere."

In the Anglo-Saxon superstitions, the Echo was supposed to be a spirit which dwelt in the wilds and mocked people who passed there, as the night-mare tormented people in bed. [Thomas Wright, "Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies," 1884]

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Definitions of nightmare

nightmare (n.)
a situation resembling a terrifying dream;
Synonyms: incubus
nightmare (n.)
a terrifying or deeply upsetting dream;
From wordnet.princeton.edu