bugbear

[buhg-bair]
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noun
  1. any source, real or imaginary, of needless fright or fear.
  2. a persistent problem or source of annoyance.
  3. Folklore. a goblin that eats up naughty children.

Origin of bugbear

First recorded in 1570–80; bug2 + bear2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for bugbear

bugbear

noun
  1. a thing that causes obsessive fear or anxiety
  2. (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
n.

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