Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

bugbear

[buhg-bair]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. any source, real or imaginary, of needless fright or fear.
  2. a persistent problem or source of annoyance.
  3. Folklore. a goblin that eats up naughty children.
Show More

Origin of bugbear

First recorded in 1570–80; bug2 + bear2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bugbear

Historical Examples

  • I laughed at his bugbear and flung Colonel Corkran in his teeth.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • If he has not ceased to be an idol, he has at any rate ceased to be a bugbear.

  • The chest was soon filled with quilts and that bugbear was gone from her life.

    Patchwork

    Anna Balmer Myers

  • I will keep each faction in awe by the bugbear of the other's supremacy.

    The Infernal Marriage

    Benjamin Disraeli

  • We hear of the prevention of unemployment, the removal of the bugbear of "losing the job."


British Dictionary definitions for bugbear

bugbear

noun
  1. a thing that causes obsessive fear or anxiety
  2. (in English folklore) a goblin said to eat naughty children and thought to be in the form of a bear
Show More

Word Origin

C16: from bug ² + bear ²; compare bugaboo
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

Word Origin and History for bugbear

n.

1580s, a sort of demon in the form of a bear that eats small children, also "object of dread" (whether real or not), from obsolete bug "goblin, scarecrow" (see bug (n.)) + bear (n.).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper