Share this entry
bugbear Line breaks: bug|bear
Pronunciation: /ˈbʌɡbɛː/

Definition of bugbear in English:


1A cause of obsessive fear, anxiety, or irritation: the biggest villain is that adman’s bugbear, saturated fat
More 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 hate, hate, bane, irritant, irritation, dislike, anathema, aversion, vexation, thorn in one's flesh/side, bane of one's life;
torment, nightmare, horror, dread, curse, bugaboo, bogey;
French bête noire
informal peeve, pet peeve, pain, pain in the neck, hang-up
2 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.

Definition of bugbear in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Related Words