Origin of bother

1710–20; orig. Hiberno-English; probably by hypercorrection from bodder, an alternate early form; origin obscure
Related formsun·both·ered, adjectiveun·both·er·ing, adjective

Synonyms for bother

Synonym study

1. Bother, annoy, plague, tease imply persistent interference with one's comfort or peace of mind. Bother suggests causing trouble or weariness or repeatedly interrupting in the midst of pressing duties. To annoy is to vex or irritate by bothering. Plague is a strong word, connoting unremitting annoyance and harassment. To tease is to pester, as by long-continued whining and begging.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bothered

Contemporary Examples of bothered

Historical Examples of bothered

  • Mrs. Beale remarked that it wasn't the heat that bothered us so, but the humidity.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He was bothered, in a way, by the extreme mental caution of this fellow.

  • How it bothered them to do that last thing you may well suppose!

  • He had been bothered by no fine qualms about abandoning herself.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • Before I was half through the dinner I wondered why I had bothered about him at all.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

British Dictionary definitions for bothered



(tr) to give annoyance, pain, or trouble to; irritatehis bad leg is bothering him again
(tr) to trouble (a person) by repeatedly disturbing; pesterstop bothering your father!
(intr) to take the time or trouble; concern oneselfdon't bother to come with me
(tr) to make (a person) alarmed or confusedthe thought of her husband's return clearly bothered her


a state of worry, trouble, or confusion
a person or thing that causes fuss, trouble, or annoyance
informal a disturbance or fight; trouble (esp in the phrase a spot of bother)


mainly British an exclamation of slight annoyance

Word Origin for bother

C18: perhaps from Irish Gaelic bodhar deaf, vexed; compare Irish Gaelic buairim I vex
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 bothered



1718, probably from Anglo-Irish pother, because its earliest use was by Irish writers Sheridan, Swift, Sterne. Perhaps from Irish bodhairim "I deafen." Related: Bothered; bothering. As a noun from 1803.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper