I did some research about word nightmare. In most cases this is what I've found:

night + Old English mære "incubus."

I would like to use the word mare for poetic purposes, but its meaning in the modern English is an adult female horse or the female of other equine species.

Is there any possibility to use the word maere, excluding the grapheme "æ", for nightmare?

  • 2
    You can use whatever words you like, but if you use "MAERE" very few native English speakers will understand it. Jul 17, 2014 at 21:39
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    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/18431/…
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jul 17, 2014 at 21:41
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    If you are to use either, I recommend mare. At least, in that case, its relation to nightmare will be more transparent.
    – Anonym
    Jul 17, 2014 at 21:42
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    – user66974
    Jul 17, 2014 at 21:48
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    As a BrE native speaker living in the UK I contest @Rupe's assertion. If someone were to say to me "I had an awful mare last night" I would think that they had been up to something horribly horsey. Jul 18, 2014 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


You could get away with 'mare if you are facing a syllable constraint, at the risk of sounding forced.

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