The name may come from Welsh bwg, meaning ghost or hobgoblin.
A bogle is often confused with its many closely-related Scottish legendary creatures, such as the better known Boggart. It is also considered to be involved in a family called the "ballybogs". A modern rendition of the Bogle is the Bogeyman. There is also a cognate term in Scottish Gaelic, bòcan, usually meaning a hobgoblin, and the bodach also bears some similarities.
Mrs Balfour said it was ‘a not uncommon theory’ in part of Lincolnshire that bogles are really the dead, still able to appear and to act, until the time their corpses are fully decayed (Balfour, 1891: 402). Jessica Lofthouse describes those of north Lancashire and Cumbria as ‘spine-chilling’ creatures, which could appear as ‘a light, a ball of fire, a ghostly shape, a phantom hound or bull or calf, or red hen or black cock’. They guarded buried treasure, punished the wicked, and ‘could uncover the graves of the dead’ (North-Country Folklore, (1976), 35).
The bogle is a creature that loves to vex humans until they go insane. They may cause a human to hear a voice around a corner, only to find that nothing is there, and then repeat the same antics around another corner. This will go on and on until the human decides to give up in utter frustration. Another way they might annoy humans is to enter a person's house and create a mess, make weird noises, or do other small things that for some reason, always happens at very inopportune times. They are reputed to live for the simple purpose of torturing young children that disobey their mothers, or of punishing those that are lazy, incontinent (lacking self-restraint), or guilty of crimes.
One of the most famous usages of the term was by Gavin Douglas, who was in turn quoted by Robert Burns at the beginning of Tam O' Shanter
"Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke."
Bogle is also the name of a popularly marketed line of rubberized hand puppets from Canada during the late 1980's and early 1990's representing the upper torso, hands & head of "Bogle" monsters.