[ buhg-bair ]
/ ˈbʌgˌbɛər /


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.

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


/ (ˈbʌɡˌbɛə) /


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