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Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Quoting Joe <[log in to unmask]>:
>
>>Philippe Caquant wrote:
>>
>>>(Well, I thought so because I was thinking of the
>>>female of a horse, but I just found in my etymological
>>>dictionnary that the part "mar" in the french word
>>>"cauchemar" comes from a germanic word meaning "night
>>>ghost" or something like that, so it's probably the
>>>same. Actually, I preferred the horse, much more
>>>mysterious).
>>
>>My dictionary agrees.  According to it, it comes from the Old English
>>'mare' [mare], which described a ghost that opressed sleeping people.
>>It's unrelated to a female horse, which came from 'm(i)ere'.  Apparently
>>it's cognate to german 'Mahre'.
>
> No doubt also to Swedish _mara_, a female demon which tortures sleepers by
> sitting on their chests. While you're unlikely to run across the word on its
> own these days outside books on folkloristics, it's the first part in
> _mardröm_, lit "_mara_ dream", the normal word for "nightmare".
>
> As an aside, I might mention that in Games Workshop's Warhammer fantasy
> universe, an undead horse is called a 'Nightmare'. I've always thought that
> pretty neat.

They took that from Casper the Friendly Ghost. ;)