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. Fuseli used to eat raw beef and pork chops for supper to produce nightmare, that he might draw his horrible creations. (See Mare's Nest.)

“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).

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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