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[buhg-uh-boo] /ˈbʌg əˌbu/
noun, plural bugaboos.
something that causes fear or worry; bugbear; bogy.
Origin of bugaboo
1730-40; earlier buggybow. See bogy1, boo1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bugaboo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The big boiler, the "bugaboo" of my dreams all summer, lay on the bank.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • Latin was still a bugaboo to Steve, but it, too, was getting easier.

    Left End Edwards Ralph Henry Barbour
  • Knowing my horse, I put him at the Emperor's head, and bugaboo went at it like a shot.

    Burlesques William Makepeace Thackeray
  • He either did not see me, or else decided that I was not a bugaboo.

    Our Bird Comrades

    Leander S. (Leander Sylvester) Keyser
  • As a bugaboo, the mere fact that you have money does not frighten me in the least, Mr. Morgan.

    Frank Merriwell's Triumph Burt L. Standish
  • In spite of any bugaboo we shall remain a Federal republic and a free people.

    The Galaxy Various
British Dictionary definitions for bugaboo


noun (pl) -boos
an imaginary source of fear; bugbear; bogey
Word Origin
C18: probably of Celtic origin; compare Cornish buccaboo the devil
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 bugaboo

1843, earlier buggybow (1740), probably an alteration of bugbear (also see bug (n.)), but connected by Chapman ["Dictionary of American Slang"] with Bugibu, demon in the Old French poem "Aliscans" from 1141, which is perhaps of Celtic origin (cf. Cornish bucca-boo, from bucca "bogle, goblin").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for bugaboo



Something that frightens or defeats one; bugbear; hobgoblin; bogy

[1820s+; probably fr Bugibu, a demon cited in the Old French poem Aliscans, of 1141]

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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