Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Nightmare (A).

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Nightmare (A).
A sensation in sleep as if something heavy were sitting on our breast. (Anglo-Saxon, mara, an incubus.) This sensation is called in French cauchemar. Anciently it was not unfrequently called the night-hag, or the riding of the witch. Fu’seli used to eat raw beef and pork chops for supper to produce nightmare, that he might draw his horrible creations. (See MARE’S NEST.)   1
        “I do believe that the witch we call Mara has been dealing with you.”—Sir Walter Scott: The Betrothed, chap. xv.
   Nightmare of Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769, 1804–1814, 1821).   2



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