[ buhg-er, boog- ]


  1. Informal. a fellow or lad (used affectionately or abusively):

    a cute little bugger.

  2. Informal. any object or thing.
  3. Often Vulgar. a sodomite.
  4. Chiefly British Slang.
    1. a despicable or contemptible person, especially a man.
    2. an annoying or troublesome thing, situation, etc.

verb (used with object)

  1. Often Vulgar. to sodomize.
  2. Slang. damn:

    Bugger the cost—I want the best.

  3. Chiefly British Slang. to trick, deceive, or take advantage of.

verb phrase

  1. Chiefly British Slang. to depart; bug off.
  2. Chiefly British Slang. to ruin; spoil; botch.



[ buhg-er ]

  1. a person who installs a hidden listening device.


/ ˈbʌɡə /


  1. a person who practises buggery
  2. slang.
    a person or thing considered to be contemptible, unpleasant, or difficult
  3. slang.
    a humorous or affectionate term for a man or child

    a friendly little bugger

    a silly old bugger

  4. bugger all slang.
  5. play silly buggers slang.
    to fool around and waste time


  1. to practise buggery (with)
  2. slang.
    tr to ruin, complicate, or frustrate
  3. slang.
    to tire; weary

    he was absolutely buggered


  1. slang.
    an exclamation of annoyance or disappointment
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Word History and Origins

Origin of bugger1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English bougre, from Anglo-French bugre, from Medieval Latin Bulgarus “heretic,” literally, “Bulgarian,” by association of the Balkans with heretical sects such as the Bogomils ( def ) and their alleged deviant sexual practices; bugger 1def 1 perhaps by reanalysis as bug 1 or bug 2 + -er 1 ( booger )

Origin of bugger2

First recorded in 1965–70; bug 1 + -er 1
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Word History and Origins

Origin of bugger1

C16: from Old French bougre , from Medieval Latin Bulgarus Bulgarian; from the condemnation of the dualist heresy rife in Bulgaria from the tenth century to the fifteenth


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About This Word

More context on bugger

Bugger seems like a completely harmless word, right? Wrong.

While often used informally as an insult (like “jerk”) or to refer to any ole whachamacallit, bugger has also been used as a more offensive vulgar term for “sodomy.”

Bugger ultimately originates from the Medieval Latin Bulgarus, literally “Bulgarian.” During the Middle Ages, the Balkans (the peninsula where Bulgaria is located) were linked to heretical sects, such as a group known as the Bogomils, who were said to engage in deviant sexual practices.

We can see that the history of bugger has both historical layers of xenophobia and homophobia. Keep context in mind when using this word or else someone might tell you to bugger off.

If knowing the history of bugger has got you reflecting on your word choices, this slideshow, “These Common Words Have Offensive Histories,” discusses many other words whose place in your vocab you may want to reconsider. 

Keep in mind …

Bugger is still sometimes used in vulgar ways today, so let’s equip you with some alternatives just in case.

If you need another word for a “young fellow,” as in a cute little bugger, try youngster, rascal, scamp, or runt.

If you want to be a little meaner—er, more forceful, shall we say—about it, consider pest, nuisance, headache, or pain in the neck. Still curious about some other insults (oh, we know it’s just pure curiosity), English has a plethora of them. Here are a few of the gentler varieties: jerk, idiot, fool, oaf, nincompoop, or buffoon.

And if you need a different term for “a random item,” the junk drawer of English has the assortment you need: doodad, gizmo, gadget, and widget, to name a few.

Need even more substitutes for bugger? Check out our synonyms for kid, annoyance, and thing on




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