noun, plural bug·a·boos.

something that causes fear or worry; bugbear; bogy.

Origin of bugaboo

1730–40; earlier buggybow. See bogy1, boo1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bugaboo

Contemporary Examples of bugaboo

Historical Examples of bugaboo

  • 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.


    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.

British Dictionary definitions for bugaboo


noun plural -boos

an imaginary source of fear; bugbear; bogey

Word Origin for bugaboo

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

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