Definition of bother in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbɒðə/


1 [no object, with negative] Take the trouble to do something: scientists rarely bother with such niceties [with infinitive]: the driver didn’t bother to ask why
More example sentences
  • Apparently, no one cared enough about this old house to even bother with locking the door.
  • You thought that some of the volunteers were too much trouble to bother with after you messed them about last year.
  • Soon, nobody will bother with such outdated languages at all, especially after the Revolution comes.
2 [with object] (Of a circumstance or event) worry, disturb, or upset (someone): secrecy is an issue which bothers journalists [with object and clause]: it bothered me that I hadn’t done anything
More example sentences
  • But the Gateshead Harrier, who finished sixth when he last competed at the championships in 1993, said the early start will not bother him.
  • Steve Waugh, the Australian captain, commented that the margin of victory did not bother him.
  • Part of the suspicion is of course because it's something that's a new way of doing things, and change always bothers some people.
concern oneself, trouble oneself, mind, care, worry oneself, burden oneself, occupy oneself, busy oneself;
take the time, make the effort, go to trouble, inconvenience oneself
informal give a damn, give a hoot, give a rap, give a hang
worry, trouble, concern, perturb, disturb, disquiet, disconcert, unnerve, fret, upset, distress, alarm, make anxious, cause someone anxiety, work up, agitate, gnaw at, weigh down, lie heavy on
informal rattle, faze, discombobulate
2.1 [no object, usually with negative] Feel concern about or interest in: don’t bother about me—I’ll find my own way home he wasn’t to bother himself with day-to-day things (as adjective bothered) I’m not particularly bothered about how I look
More example sentences
  • Carl and my sister Michelle never seemed too bothered about travelling.
  • But many children in the city seem not much bothered about this year's school re-opening.
  • I'm less bothered about my bus shelter now, though I would obviously prefer there to be a stop there so it would be more convenient to get a bus.
2.2Cause trouble or annoyance to (someone) by interrupting or otherwise inconveniencing them: I’m sorry to bother you at this time of night
More example sentences
  • The motorist felt that my time would be better spent booking the speeding students who were attending the college and not bothering him and inconveniencing him in his motor repairs.
  • They managed this with no fuss and without interrupting or bothering us in any way.
  • The inconvenience did not bother me nearly as much as the attitude with which I was treated.
disturb, trouble, worry, inconvenience, put out, impose on, pester, badger, harass, molest, plague, beset, torment, nag, hound, dog, chivvy, harry, annoy, upset, irritate, vex, provoke, nettle, try someone's patience, make one's hackles rise
informal hassle, bug, give someone a hard time, get in someone's hair, get on someone's case, get up someone's nose, rub up the wrong way, drive up the wall
Northern English informal mither
North American informal ride, devil
Australian/New Zealand informal heavy
New Zealand informal rark
rare discommode


[mass noun]
1Effort, trouble, or difficulty: he saved me the bother of having to come up with a speech it may seem like too much bother to cook just for yourself
More example sentences
  • They left to find another bus stop because they ‘didn't want any bother or trouble.’
  • Getting rid of all the fuss and bother or hassle of looking after your contact lenses, it becomes part of the body and it's not an invasive procedure.
  • He interviews himself, which does save a lot of bother.
trouble, effort, exertion, strain, inconvenience, fuss, bustle, hustle and bustle, disruption;
informal hassle
1.1 (a bother) A person or thing that causes annoyance or difficulty: I hope she hasn’t been a bother
More example sentences
  • Isn’t that uniform a bother to you, with people always coming up to you?” my brother asked.
  • So our old natures rebel and we let them know in subtle little ways that they are a bother.
  • The black marks were a bother.
nuisance, pest, palaver, rigmarole, job, trial, tribulation, bind, bore, drag, inconvenience, difficulty, trouble, problem, irritation, annoyance, vexation
informal hassle, performance, pantomime, song and dance, headache, pain, pain in the neck, pain in the backside
Scottish informal nyaff, skelf
Australian/New Zealand informal nark
vulgar slang pain in the arse/ass


Used to express mild irritation or impatience: ‘Bother!’ she muttered
More example sentences
  • She is wearing jeans and a Winnie the Pooh T-shirt with the slogan: ‘Oh bother!’



can't be bothered (to do something)

Be unwilling to make the effort needed to do something: they couldn’t be bothered to look it up
More example sentences
  • Although they have everything going for them they can't be bothered to put in the necessary effort to help themselves to fulfil their potential.
  • If you can't be bothered to imagine, let me tell you.
  • I have split ends but can't be bothered to go get my hair cut.

hot and bothered

In a state of anxiety or physical discomfort, especially as a result of being pressured: others struggle with bags and briefcases, looking hot and bothered
More example sentences
  • He was cursing and yelling, but Jess was too hot and bothered to worry about it.
  • As for spider cannibalism, this happens frequently, and usually under different circumstances: Males hot and bothered by comely females will venture forth for the chance to mate.
  • If you're a squeamish sort, who doesn't get all hot and bothered by blood, guts and gore the way I do, then I strongly suggest you don't click on the link I'm about to show you.


Late 17th century (as a noun in the dialect sense 'noise, chatter'): of Anglo-Irish origin; probably related to Irish bodhaire 'noise', bodhraim 'deafen, annoy'. The verb (originally dialect) meant 'confuse with noise' in the early 18th century.

  • The origins of bother are in Ireland. It is probably related to Irish bodhaire ‘deafness’ and bodhraim ‘to deafen, annoy’. It is first recorded meaning ‘noise, chatter’. In the 18th century emphasis moves to worry, annoyance, and trouble. The word quickly spread out of its Anglo-Irish confines, and in the 19th century appears as a common mild oath in the works of Dickens and Thackeray. The late 1960s gave us bovver, ‘deliberate troublemaking’, which represents a cockney pronunciation of the word. The bovver boy (a hooligan or skinhead) wore bovver boots, heavy boots with a toe cap and laces. The Catherine Tate Show, introduced and popularized the catchphrase ‘Am I bovvered?’ in 2004.

Words that rhyme with bother


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bother

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