any source, real or imaginary, of needless fright or fear.
a persistent problem or source of annoyance.
Folklore. a goblin that eats up naughty children.

Nearby words

  1. buganda,
  2. bugatti,
  3. bugayev,
  4. bugayev, boris nikolayevich,
  5. bugbane,
  6. bugboy,
  7. bugeye,
  8. bugger,
  9. bugger about,
  10. bugger off

Origin of bugbear

First recorded in 1570–80; bug2 + bear2

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

Examples from the Web for bugbear

British Dictionary definitions for bugbear



a thing that causes obsessive fear or anxiety
(in English folklore) a goblin said to eat naughty children and thought to be in the form of a bear

Word Origin for bugbear

C16: from bug ² + bear ²; compare bugaboo

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 bugbear



1580s, a sort of demon in the form of a bear that eats small children, also "object of dread" (whether real or not), from obsolete bug "goblin, scarecrow" (see bug (n.)) + bear (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper