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verb (used with object)
  1. to give trouble to; annoy; pester; worry: His baby sister bothered him for candy.
  2. to bewilder; confuse: His inability to understand the joke bothered him.
verb (used without object)
  1. to take the trouble; trouble or inconvenience oneself: Don't bother to call. He has no time to bother with trifles.
  1. something troublesome, burdensome, or annoying: Doing the laundry every week can be a terrible bother.
  2. effort, work, or worry: Gardening takes more bother than it's worth.
  3. a worried or perplexed state: Don't get into such a bother about small matters.
  4. someone or something that bothers or annoys: My cousin is a perpetual bother to me.
  1. Chiefly British. (used to express mild irritation.)

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

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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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bothering

Contemporary Examples of bothering

Historical Examples of bothering

British Dictionary definitions for bothering


  1. (tr) to give annoyance, pain, or trouble to; irritatehis bad leg is bothering him again
  2. (tr) to trouble (a person) by repeatedly disturbing; pesterstop bothering your father!
  3. (intr) to take the time or trouble; concern oneselfdon't bother to come with me
  4. (tr) to make (a person) alarmed or confusedthe thought of her husband's return clearly bothered her
  1. a state of worry, trouble, or confusion
  2. a person or thing that causes fuss, trouble, or annoyance
  3. informal a disturbance or fight; trouble (esp in the phrase a spot of bother)
  1. 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 bothering



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