Definition of bugbear in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbəɡˌber/


1A cause of obsessive fear, irritation, or loathing.
Example sentences
  • The major bugbear for anyone involved with Hearts is the continuing problems with Tynecastle Stadium.
  • Now making phone calls has become one of my bugbears.
  • But I shall leave those bugbears for another day.
pet peeve, hate, bête noire, anathema, aversion, bugaboo;
bane, bane of one's life/existence, irritant, irritation, vexation, thorn in one's flesh/side;
nightmare, torment
informal pain, pain in the neck, hang-up
1.1 archaic An imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them.
Example sentences
  • One of these, Francis Moore, wrote: ‘A dreadful bugbear to the women is called Mumbo Jumbo, which keeps the women in awe.’
  • Mormo was a female spectre, with which the Greeks used to frighten little children. Mormo was one of the same class of bugbears as Empusa and Lamia.
  • Mermaids are supposed to abound in the ponds and ditches in this neighbourhood. Careful mothers use them as bugbears to prevent little children from going too near the water.


Late 16th century: probably from obsolete bug 'bogey' (of unknown origin) + bear2.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bug·bear

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