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[buhg] /bʌg/
Also called true bug, hemipteran, hemipteron. a hemipterous insect.
(loosely) any insect or insectlike invertebrate.
Informal. any microorganism, especially a virus:
He was laid up for a week by an intestinal bug.
Informal. a defect or imperfection, as in a mechanical device, computer program, or plan; glitch:
The test flight discovered the bugs in the new plane.
  1. a person who has a great enthusiasm for something; fan or hobbyist:
    a hi-fi bug.
  2. a craze or obsession:
    He's got the sports-car bug.
  1. a hidden microphone or other electronic eavesdropping device.
  2. any of various small mechanical or electrical gadgets, as one to influence a gambling device, give warning of an intruder, or indicate location.
a mark, as an asterisk, that indicates a particular item, level, etc.
Horse Racing. the five-pound weight allowance that can be claimed by an apprentice jockey.
a telegraph key that automatically transmits a series of dots when moved to one side and one dash when moved to the other.
Poker Slang. a joker that can be used only as an ace or as a wild card to fill a straight or a flush.
Printing. a label printed on certain matter to indicate that it was produced by a union shop.
any of various fishing plugs resembling an insect.
Chiefly British. a bedbug.
verb (used with object), bugged, bugging. Informal.
to install a secret listening device in (a room, building, etc.) or on (a telephone or other device):
The phone had been bugged.
to bother; annoy; pester:
She's bugging him to get her into show business.
Verb phrases
bug off, Slang. to leave or depart, especially rapidly:
I can't help you, so bug off.
bug out, Slang. to flee in panic; show panic or alarm.
put a bug in someone's ear, to give someone a subtle suggestion; hint:
We put a bug in his ear about a new gymnasium.
Origin of bug1
1615-25; 1885-90 for def 4; 1910-15 for def 5a; 1915-20 for def 14; 1945-50 for def 15; earlier bugge beetle, apparently alteration of Middle English budde, Old English -budda beetle; sense “leave” obscurely related to other senses and perhaps of distinct orig.
Related forms
unbugged, adjective
15. nag, badger, harass, plague, needle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bug out
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I flew the bug out to sea, and in a few minutes we spotted our yacht, and signaled it to stop on another island.

  • And you can't beat the bug out if your heart's soft; the bug'll win—it's a hundred-to-one on him.

    Bulldog Carney W. A. Fraser
British Dictionary definitions for bug out

bug out

(intransitive, adverb) (slang, mainly US) to depart hurriedly; run away; retreat


any insect of the order Hemiptera, esp any of the suborder Heteroptera, having piercing and sucking mouthparts specialized as a beak (rostrum) See also assassin bug, bedbug, chinch bug
(mainly US & Canadian) any insect, such as the June bug or the Croton bug
  1. a microorganism, esp a bacterium, that produces disease
  2. a disease, esp a stomach infection, caused by a microorganism
(informal) an obsessive idea, hobby, etc; craze (esp in the phrases get the bug, be bitten by the bug, the bug bites, etc)
(informal) a person having such a craze; enthusiast
(often pl) (informal) an error or fault, as in a machine or system, esp in a computer or computer program
(informal) a concealed microphone used for recording conversations, as in spying
(US) (in poker) a joker used as an ace or wild card to complete a straight or flush
verb (informal) bugs, bugging, bugged
(transitive) to irritate; bother
(transitive) to conceal a microphone in (a room, etc)
(intransitive) (US) (of eyes) to protrude
See also bug out
Word Origin
C16: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Old English budda beetle


(obsolete) an evil spirit or spectre; hobgoblin
Word Origin
C14 bugge, perhaps from Middle Welsh bwg ghost. See also bugbear, bugaboo


a past tense and past participle of big2


/Russian buk/
Also called Southern Bug. a river in E Europe, rising in W Ukraine and flowing southeast to the Dnieper estuary and the Black Sea. Length: 853 km (530 miles)
Also called Western Bug. a river in E Europe, rising in SW Ukraine and flowing northwest to the River Vistula in Poland, forming part of the border between Poland and Ukraine. Length: 724 km (450 miles)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bug out



"insect," 1620s (earliest reference is to bedbugs), of unknown origin, probably but not certainly from or influenced by Middle English bugge "something frightening, scarecrow" (late 14c.), a meaning obsolete since the "insect" sense arose except in bugbear (1570s) and bugaboo (q.v.).

Probably connected with Scottish bogill "goblin, bugbear," or obsolete Welsh bwg "ghost, goblin" (cf. Welsh bwgwl "threat," earlier "fear," Middle Irish bocanách "supernatural being"). Some speculate that these words are from a root meaning "goat" (see buck (n.1)) and represent originally a goat-like spectre. Cf. also bogey (n.1) and German bögge, böggel-mann "goblin." Perhaps influenced in meaning by Old English -budda used in compounds for "beetle" (cf. Low German budde "louse, grub," Middle Low German buddech "thick, swollen").

In the United States bug is not confined, as in England, to the domestic pest, but is applied to all insects of the Coleoptera order, which includes what in this country are generally called beetles. [Farmer & Henley, "Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English," 1912 abridged edition]
Meaning "defect in a machine" (1889) may have been coined c.1878 by Thomas Edison (perhaps with the notion of an insect getting into the works). Meaning "person obsessed by an idea" (e.g. firebug) is from 1841, perhaps from notion of persistence. Sense of "microbe, germ" is from 1919. Bugs "crazy" is from c.1900. Bug juice as a slang name for drink is from 1869, originally "bad whiskey." The 1811 slang dictionary has bug-hunter "an upholsterer." Bug-word "word or words meant to irritate and vex" is from 1560s.



"to bulge, protrude," 1872, originally of eyes, perhaps from a humorous or dialect mispronunciation of bulge (v.). Related: Bugged; bugging. As an adjective, bug-eyed recorded from 1872; so commonly used of space creatures in mid-20c. science fiction that the initialism BEM for bug-eyed monster was current by 1953.



"to annoy, irritate," 1949, probably from bug (n.) and a reference to insect pests. Sense of "equip with a concealed microphone" is from 1919. Related: Bugged; bugging.



"to scram, skedaddle," 1953, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to bug (v.2), and cf. bug off.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bug out in Medicine

bug (bŭg)

  1. A true bug, specifically one having a beaklike structure that allows piercing and sucking.

  2. An insect or similar organism, such as a centipede or an earwig.

  3. A disease-producing microorganism, such as a flu bug.

  4. The illness or disease so produced.

  5. A defect or difficulty, as in a system or design.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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bug out in Science
  1. An insect belonging to the suborder Heteroptera. See more at true bug.

  2. An insect, spider, or similar organism. Not in scientific use.

Our Living Language  : The word bug is often used to refer to tiny creatures that crawl along, such as insects and even small animals that are not insects, such as spiders and millipedes. But for scientists the word has a much narrower meaning. In the strictest terms bugs are those insects that have mouthparts adapted for piercing and sucking. The mouthparts of these bugs are contained in a beak-shaped structure. Thus scientists would classify a louse but not a beetle or a cockroach as a bug. In fact, scientists often call lice and their relatives true bugs to distinguish them better from what everyone else calls "bugs."
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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bug out in Culture

bug definition

A generic term that describes a malfunction of undetermined origin in a computer or other electronic device.

Note: The term originated in the 1940s when the examination of a large computer revealed that an actual insect had landed on one of the circuits, shorting it out and shutting the machine down.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for bug out

bug out 1

verb phrase

To bulge; protrude: His eyes bugged out like a frog's

[1880s+; fr bulge]

bug out 2

verb phrase

  1. To retreat; turn one's back and run (fr Korean War Army)
  2. To leave rapidly, esp to drive away in a hurry (1950s+ Teenagers & hot rodders)
  3. To behave crazily; freak out (1980s+ Students)

bug 1


  1. Any insect whatever Now US only (1642+ British)
  2. Any upper-respiratory or flulike complaint, esp one that is somewhat prevalent: There's a bug going around (1960s+)
  3. Any fault or defect in a machine, plans, system, etc: You've got to get the bugs out of the program before trying to run it on the computer (1870s+)
  4. Any small, cheap item sold by a vendor or huckster (1800s+ Circus & carnival)
  5. A joker or a wild card (1940s+ Poker)
  6. A girl: Boys prowl for ''bugs'' (1960s+ Teenagers)
  7. A semiautomatic or automatic radiotelegraph key used for fast sending (1920s+ Radio operators)
  8. Any small symbol or label, such as a copyright or trademark symbol (1950s+ Print shop)
  9. An asterisk printed beside the weight a horse is to carry, showing that a five-pound decrease has been granted because the jockey is an apprentice (1940s+ Horse racing)
  10. An apprentice jockey who has ridden his or her maiden race during the current year or has not yet won his or her fortieth race (1940s+ Horse racing)
  11. A horse that has never won a race; maiden (1940s+ Horse racing)
  12. A hot rod (1950s+ Hot rodders)
  13. A small foreign car, esp the Volkswagen Beetle2 (1919+)
  14. A small two-person lunar excursion vehicle (1960s+ Astronautics)
  15. An enthusiast; devotee; hobbyist; fan, nut: Momma's a football bug (1841+)
  16. A compelling idea or interest: His bug is surf-casting (1900+)
  17. An insane person; nut: Only a bug is strong enough for that (1880s+)
  18. An irrational, touchy mood; bad mood (1930s+ Prison)
  19. A psychiatrist (1950s+ Prison)
  20. A confidential message or signal; confidential information (1925+ Underworld)
  21. A burglar alarm (1920s+ Underworld)
  22. Small hidden listening devices for surveillance: The team planted bugs in about six flowerpots (1940s+)

bug 2


To protrude; bulge: Her eyes bugged out when she saw the bill

[1870s+ Dialect; fr humorous or dialectal pronunciation of bulge]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with bug out

bug out

Bulge, as in The news will make her eyes bug out with astonishment. This expression was originally used literally for bulging eyes and later used more loosely as a sign of astonishment. [ ; mid-1800s ]
Leave, run out, as in This conference is a bore; I think I'll bug out. This usage originated as military slang for deserting and today is used more loosely. [ ; c. 1950 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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