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Why are they called "Nightmares"?

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lucidboy
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Why are they called "Nightmares"?
PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

Im partly spanish descendant so i might not get the whole idea of Night(nocturn) Mare (female horse or/and moon dark regions.
In spanish they are called "pesadilla" which is the literally translated as "little heavy one" or something along that. So in spanish we understand it as "heavy dreams" whereas in english it's a nocturnal-femal-horse if the word's taken literally OR nocturnal moon dark region.

So why are the "nightmares(bad dreams) called "nightmares"?
i want to find out clearly the why of that. neutral

The idea i get so far is that because the "Mares"(seas) are the dark areas of the surface of the moon they resemble the dark content of bad dreams. is that right?




Last edited by lucidboy on Sat 12 Nov, 2005; edited 2 times in total
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Fadem
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

The original meaning of nightmare wasn't a bad dream, but something like a sleep paralysis or old hag experience if I recall correctly. I guess it later slowly lost the original meaning and became a word for bad dream...

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lucidboy
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

Thanks for the info but unfortunately im not asking their original use or meaning of use BUT the literal definition of the word NIGHT MARE.

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Aikanaro
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

On the meaning of 'nightmare', Wikipedia says the following:

"Such nightmares were widely considered to be the work of demons, which were thought to sit on the chests of sleepers. In Old English, the being in question was called a mare or mære (from a proto-Germanic *marōn, related to Old High German and Old Norse mara), whence comes the mare part in nightmare."

So...nothing to do with a noctunal dark moon region. Or horses. Probably.


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lucidboy
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

So mara(mare)would be in last istance, a demon. So that leaves to Nightmare being a "night with demon" or "demonic night" or something?

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Wolf
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

That's pretty cool, I was trying to look it up before but couldn't find anything. Wiki I actually checked first, but I didn't get far before being distracted. (probably by a shiny object or flashy ad ) Thanks for the info though, CD's question interested me. wink5

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lucidboy
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

Yeah Wolb; I was wondering about the "mare", but it is not female horse nor moon dark regions. It's a demon in the mythology apparently so that leaves us to "having a night with demons" or something along that i think.

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Yenia
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

As I understand it, a nightmare is a night-demon, or at least that was the meaning of the word until it changed into "bad dream" - we still use the same word to describe the same thing, but because we live in the age of reason, it's not a nasty demon, but a bad dream.

There's this really nifty picture of one:

http://www.artchive.com/artchive/F/fussli/fuseli_nigh tmare.jpg.html

Compliments and adoration bow to Aikanaro for finding the definition, and with the source quoted, too! Fellow academic at heart? (And isn't wikipedia wonderful?)


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Fadem
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

I told you it reffered to old hag! (I know, not the question but hey grin

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mystic
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Nov, 2005  Reply with quote

"The mare in nightmare is not a female horse, but a mara, an Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse term for a demon that sat on sleepers' chests, causing them to have bad dreams."

This quote came from this site: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/nightmare.html

It has a very nice collection of legends and stories about those demons, mostly from Germany and England.

More about the Old Hag and Night Mare legends: http://www.meta-religion.com/Psychiatry/Disorders/sle ep_disorders/sp_in_myth_and_legend.htm


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Waeled
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2005  Reply with quote

Mara is a female deamon that likes to sit on people, causing them to have a suffocating experience. Mara actually means something along the lines of "feeling of asphyxiation".

Human females could actually, during nightly hours, be converted into Maras and "ride" sleeping people. And no, it wouldn't be a pleasurable experience, even for a male.
The Mara also enjoyed riding horses and braiding their manes. But nothing was more alluring than to ride the branches of a pine tree. So to protect the horses, the stable masters often nailed a pine twig outside the stables, so that the Mara would leave the horses alone.

Anyway, in Swedish, we call nightmares "mardrömmar" which can be transelated as: "Dreams about Mara". So, at least in Swedish, that's where the name originates from.
My source of information was the Swedish wiki-pages.


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Bruno
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2005  Reply with quote

Dictionary.com's definition for 'nightmare' supports the female demon theory.

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Jack
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Dec, 2005  Reply with quote

We have this exact word in polish- mara and nocna mara(or zmora) which stands for scary night ghost.Also means something close to hallucination, not sharp,foggy.I.e some of swamp smokes or other man/woman shaped shadows can be called this.
Not much used in todays vocabulary.


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