Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb both·er \ˈbä-thər\

Simple Definition of bother

  • : to cause (someone) to feel troubled, worried, or concerned

  • : to annoy (someone) : to cause (someone) to feel annoyed

  • : to take the time to do something : to make an effort to do something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of bother

botheredbothering play \ˈbäth-riŋ, ˈbä-thə-\

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to annoy especially by petty provocation :  irk

  3. 2 :  to intrude upon :  pester

  4. 3 :  to cause to be somewhat anxious or concerned <my stomach is bothering me> —often used interjectionally

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to become concerned <wouldn't bother with details>

  7. 2 :  to take pains :  take the trouble <never bothered to ask>

Examples of bother in a sentence

  1. He's so easygoing. Nothing seems to bother him.

  2. Something he said at the meeting has been bothering me.

  3. The entire car trip was filled with complaints like, Mom, David keeps bothering me! and Will you tell him to quit bothering me?.

  4. Mother used to cook elaborate dinners, but with only herself to cook for, she doesn't bother anymore.

  5. Should I call later? No, don't bother.

  6. I'm not going to bother with the details.

Origin of bother

origin unknown

First Known Use: 1728

Synonym Discussion of bother

annoy, vex, irk, bother mean to upset a person's composure. annoy implies a wearing on the nerves by persistent petty unpleasantness <their constant complaining annoys us>. vex implies greater provocation and stronger disturbance and usually connotes anger but sometimes perplexity or anxiety <vexed by her son's failure to clean his room>. irk stresses difficulty in enduring and the resulting weariness or impatience of spirit <careless waste irks the boss>. bother suggests interference with comfort or peace of mind <don't bother me while I'm reading>.

Rhymes with bother



noun both·er

Simple Definition of bother

  • : someone or something that is annoying or that causes trouble

  • : trouble or difficulty

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of bother

  1. 1 a :  a state of petty discomfort, annoyance, or worry b :  something that causes petty annoyance or worry

  2. 2 :  fuss

Examples of bother in a sentence

  1. Replacing the windows could be more of a bother than it's worth.

  2. I know what a bother driving into the city can be this time of day.

  3. Sorry to bother you. That's okay, it's no bother at all.

  4. I considered replacing that part of the floor but decided it wasn't worth the bother.

  5. He doesn't want the bother of filling out all those forms again.

  6. Will you mail this for me? It will save me the bother of going to the post office.


First Known Use of bother


BOTHER Defined for Kids



verb both·er \ˈbäth-ər\

Definition of bother for Students


  1. 1 :  to trouble (someone) in body or mind :  annoy <bothered by flies>

  2. 2 :  to cause to worry <Your illness bothers me.>

  3. 3 :  to take the time or trouble <Don't bother to dress up.>

  4. 4 :  to intrude upon :  interrupt <Don't bother me while I'm on the phone.>



noun both·er

Definition of bother for Students

  1. 1 :  someone or something that is annoying <This project is such a bother.>

  2. 2 :  commotion <The return of Mr. Bilbo Baggins created quite a disturbance … The legal bother, indeed, lasted for years. — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit>

  3. 3 :  a state of worry or annoyance <It's not worth the bother.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up bother? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.