[ buhg-uh-boo ]
/ ˈbʌg əˌbu /

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

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British Dictionary definitions for bugaboo


/ (ˈbʌɡəˌbuː) /

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