[ buhg ]
/ bʌg /


verb (used with object), bugged, bug·ging. 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.

Nearby words

  1. buffy coat,
  2. bufo,
  3. bufotalin,
  4. bufotenine,
  5. bufotoxin,
  6. bug light,
  7. bug off,
  8. bug out,
  9. bug-eyed,
  10. bug-juice


    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 bug

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 formsun·bugged, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for bug out

bug out


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


/ (bʌɡ) /


verb bugs, bugging or bugged informal

See also bug out

Word Origin for bug

C16: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Old English budda beetle


/ (bʌɡ) /


obsolete an evil spirit or spectre; hobgoblin

Word Origin for bug

C14 bugge, perhaps from Middle Welsh bwg ghost. See also bugbear, bugaboo


/ (bʌɡ) /


a past tense and past participle of big 2


/ (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

Word Origin and History for bug out
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for bug out


[ bŭg ]


A true bug, specifically one having a beaklike structure that allows piercing and sucking.
An insect or similar organism, such as a centipede or an earwig.
A disease-producing microorganism, such as a flu bug.
The illness or disease so produced.
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.

Science definitions for bug out


[ bŭg ]

An insect belonging to the suborder Heteroptera. See more at true bug.
An insect, spider, or similar organism. Not in scientific use.


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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for bug out


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


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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. [Colloquial; 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. [Slang; c. 1950]


In addition to the idioms beginning with bug

  • bug off
  • bug out

also see:

  • cute as a button (bug's ear)
  • put a bug in someone's ear
  • snug as a bug in a rug
  • what's eating (bugging) you
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.