Definition of bug in English:


Syllabification: bug
Pronunciation: /bəɡ


1chiefly North American A small insect.
More example sentences
  • I observed small creatures: ants, bugs, moths, worms, all working their ways, digging in and out of the soil.
  • In the middle of the reproductive period most bugs carry eggs.
  • Tiny bugs crawled along the bark of ancient-looking trees.
insect, mite
1.1 informal A harmful microorganism, as a bacterium or virus.
More example sentences
  • The saline solution means that any harmful bugs, viruses or bacteria cannot survive, so it is completely hygienic.
  • An angry mother has hit out at the state of Central Park Swimming Pool after the council closed it following the discovery of the killer lung bug legionella.
  • There were all sort of staph bugs in there tromping on the heart valves.
1.2An illness caused by a harmful microorganism such as a bacterium or virus: suffering from a flu bug
More example sentences
  • Bill Edmunds noticed that his young son seemed always to get a tummy bug right after his teeth had been painted with fluoride.
  • They say it's a virus and possibly one of those 24-hour flu bugs.
  • One shot may be all your family needs to ward off the flu bug.
1.3 [with modifier] informal An enthusiastic, almost obsessive, interest in something: they caught the sailing bug Joe was bitten by the showbiz bug
More example sentences
  • When the gardening bug bites you, it usually happens around this time of year - and there will never be a better time than now to start.
  • And now even Pidí himself has caught the ice hockey bug.
  • Yes, the spring cleaning bug has bitten and God help anyone getting in my way.
2 (also true bug) Entomology An insect of a large order distinguished by having mouthparts that are modified for piercing and sucking.
More example sentences
  • The insect families that scientists lump together as aphids belong to the huge order of true bugs, which typically deploy sucking mouthparts much like built-in soda straws.
  • The Permian saw the appearance of stoneflies, true bugs, beetles, and caddisflies, among other groups.
  • Worldwide, stilt bugs are a relatively small group of unusual hemipterans, or true bugs, in the family Berytidae.
3A miniature microphone, typically concealed in a room or telephone, used for surveillance.
More example sentences
  • That, according to sources, is a strong indication that it was the FBI's bug and they were the ones that put it there in the first place.
  • Other figures, including LBJ and Martin Luther King are observed vicariously through wire taps or electronic bugs.
  • He only had the director's word for it that the room was clean of bugs.
listening device, hidden microphone, wire, wiretap, tap
4An error in a computer program or system.
More example sentences
  • Worse, it is theoretically impossible to determine whether computer systems are free from programming bugs or nefarious code.
  • The game also plays host to a wide array of gameplay bugs and glitches.
  • Well, applications are prone to all types of problems, bugs, and errors.
fault, error, defect, flaw;
informal glitch, gremlin

verb (bugs, bugging, bugged)

[with object] Back to top  
1Conceal a miniature microphone in (a room or telephone) in order to monitor or record someone’s conversations: the telephones in the presidential palace were bugged
More example sentences
  • The telephone was bugged, and most of the rooms had mini microphones hidden under furniture and behind pictures.
  • They enlisted the help of a wire-tapper to bug the star's telephone and bedroom.
  • Each capability seems innocuous, but a hidden cellphone with both features can silently and automatically answer calls, establishing a radio link for bugging a room.
1.1Record or monitor (a conversation) by concealing a microphone in a room or telephone.
More example sentences
  • Short herself suspected her own conversations with him were bugged by spies, even while she was conducting them.
  • Fair enough security and all that but they, whoever they were, were just as likely to bug the office as to bug their phone calls.
  • He is suspected of having reported the bugged conversations to his superiors on a regular basis.
record, eavesdrop on, spy on, overhear;
wiretap, tap, monitor
2 informal Annoy or bother (someone): a persistent reporter was bugging me
More example sentences
  • But that's not what really bugs me about this whole thing.
  • I know neither of them would hurt me, but it bugs me.
  • The guy's evident discomfort was starting to bug him.


early 17th century: of unknown origin. Current verb senses date from the early 20th century.

Phrasal verbs

bug off

North American informal Go away.
More example sentences
  • She politely told him to bug off and returned to the breakfast table to finish the comics.
  • Why couldn't I just have told Van to bug off and that I'm not interested in getting to know him?
  • I wanted to resolve things with Carter… but I wanted to tell him to bug off at the same time.

bug out

1Leave quickly: if you see enemy troops, bug out
More example sentences
  • Once there, he claimed purple hearts for every scratch, and bugged out as quickly as humanly possible.
  • Clearly, there's a whole lot going on inside the museum, but perhaps it's best that some doors stay closed: watching some of the action might just cause people to bug out.
  • It was only motherly intervention that convinced her to bug out.
2North American informal Bulge outward: he did a double take and his eyes bugged out

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Pronunciation: ˈnɔɪs(ə)m
having an extremely offensive smell