In some languages there's a categorical word for all things which are evil and imaginary. For example, Strašidlo in Czech describes ghosts, bogeymen, etc.

Is there an equivalent word in English?

  • 1
    I don't think you've given enough information to answer this question. What about vampires, are they evil and imaginary? Some ghosts are good, are these under the umbrella you're talking about? Please also include a sample sentence so that your question doesn't get closed.
    – Laurel
    Dec 12, 2018 at 12:19
  • 4
    I’d just go with monsters.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 12, 2018 at 12:33
  • @DanBron I'd go with 'things that go bump in the night', except it isn't one word.
    – Spagirl
    Dec 12, 2018 at 15:31
  • And what about imaginary diseases, do they count? Or hypothetically possible bad things that happen not to exist (yet), like having to sing in front of all your coworkers and suddenly realising you’re only wearing your underwear (fairly common theme in dreams) – would that count? Dec 12, 2018 at 15:59
  • Just to make sure this has been done, Google Translate renders Czech "strašidlo" as "stalker" in English, and Polish "straszidło" as "bogeyman".
    – Spencer
    Dec 12, 2018 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


I would suggest "monster", "demon", or "bogeyman" depending on context

If you just want to talk about the general category that includes Dracula, Xenomorphs, zombies, and such, "monster" is probably the best fit.

If you want to put particular emphasis on the evil nature of these things, then "demon" may get the message across better. Note that demon can also refer to a specific kind of evil entity, so this probably shouldn't be used in a context where that confusion is likely.

If you want to emphasize that these things aren't real, use "bogeyman". Because the bogeyman originates as a nondescript way to frighten children into good behavior, it has developed a strong connotation of unreality in addition to being evil in some way.


The word spectre comes to mind as a perfect equivalent. Spectre can be used to mean ghost in the traditional sense or can be extended to mean anything feared but not tangible. Karl Marx, for example, writes "There is a spectre haunting Europe, the spectre of communism"

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    "Spectre" is a very specific "imaginary bad thing" (for instance, a vampire is not a "spectre"), so it doesn't answer the question
    – microenzo
    Dec 12, 2018 at 15:28
  • 2
    @microenzo Actually, the abstract extended meaning of "spectre" kind of fits. But jimm101 needs to beef up his answer with some citations. The example given referred to a very real threat when it was written, so there need to be examples of imaginary ones.
    – Spencer
    Dec 12, 2018 at 17:11

I would say 'SPIRITS'. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: SPIRIT :an often malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible. As some spirits may be kind, I must give the variant 'evil spirits' to better correspond the answer. There's one more term from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: incubus  an evil spirit that lies on persons in their sleep. Though it is also the name of a particular evil spirit, not the hyperonym.

  • 4
    If they are only 'often malevolent' that means some spirits are good, and therefore don't fall into the category of evil, so can you explain how your term would identify the category 'evil/imaginary' when the definition allows for them not to be evil?
    – Spagirl
    Dec 12, 2018 at 15:29

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