• noun a police officer. Probably from the notion of the ‘bogey man’.
  • noun an enemy aircraft or other enemy presence; a service term from the notion of the ‘bogey man’
  • noun a piece of mucus from the nose

Origin & History of “bogey”

Bogey is one of a set of words relating to alarming or annoying manifestations of the supernatural (others are bogle, bug, bugbear, and possibly boggle and bugaboo) whose interconnections are difficult to sort out. A strand common to most of them is a northern origin, which has led some to suggest an ultimate source in Scandinavia – perhaps an ancestor of Norwegian dialect bugge ‘important man’ (which has also been linked with English big) might lie behind middle English bugge, originally ‘scarecrow’ but later used for more spectral objects of terror. Others, however, noting Welsh bwg, bwgan ‘ghost’, have gone with a Celtic origin.

Of more recent uses of bogey, ‘policeman’ and ‘nasal mucus’ seem to have appeared between the two world Wars, while ‘golf score of one stroke over par’ is said to have originated at the great Yarmouth Golf club in the 1890s, when a certain major Wellman exclaimed, during the course of a particularly trying round, that he must be playing against the ‘bogey-man’ (a figure in a popular song of the time). Bogie ‘undercarriage’ (19th c.) is a different word (of if anything obscurer origin than bogey).