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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. ;)