both·​er | \ˈbä-t͟hər \
bothered; bothering\ ˈbät͟h-​riŋ , ˈbä-​t͟hə-​ \

Definition of bother 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to annoy especially by petty provocation : irk It bothers her when people litter. bothered by the itchy tag on his shirt

2 : to intrude upon : pester Don't bother him when he's working.

3 : to cause to be somewhat anxious or concerned My stomach is bothering me. often used interjectionally Oh, bother!

intransitive verb

1 : to become concerned wouldn't bother with details

2 : to take pains (see pain entry 1 sense 4) : take the trouble never bothered to ask



Definition of bother (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a state of petty discomfort, annoyance, or worry when scenery gets mixed up with our personal bothers all the virtue goes out of it— Edith Wharton

b : something that causes petty annoyance or worry Fixing it would be too much of a bother. Sorry to be such a bother, but I need your help.

2 : fuss, inconvenience doesn't want the bother of filling out all the forms again

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of bother in a Sentence


He's so easygoing. Nothing seems to bother him. Something he said at the meeting has been bothering me. The entire car trip was filled with complaints like, “Mom, David keeps bothering me!” and “Will you tell him to quit bothering me?”. Mother used to cook elaborate dinners, but with only herself to cook for, she doesn't bother anymore. “Should I call later?” “No, don't bother.” I'm not going to bother with the details.


Replacing the windows could be more of a bother than it's worth. I know what a bother driving into the city can be this time of day. “Sorry to bother you.” “That's okay, it's no bother at all.” I considered replacing that part of the floor but decided it wasn't worth the bother. He doesn't want the bother of filling out all those forms again. Will you mail this for me? It will save me the bother of going to the post office.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Does it bother us enough that people are mad at us?... Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Zen Studios alters classic pinball art to protect family-friendly rating [Updated]," 12 Oct. 2018 Nobody really bothers with a turkey-burger patty melt. Dan Nosowitz, GQ, "Skip the Burger, Eat the Patty Melt," 28 June 2018 That bothered All-NBA forward Kevin Durant, who started to speak up more about his frustrations. Scooby Axson,, "Warriors Coaches Wondered If Kevin Durant Was Unhappy This Season," 12 June 2018 What bothered him the most was that people weren’t – and still aren’t – even making it correctly, putting a half-ounce of lime juice and an orange twist with way too much cranberry juice., "The Birth, Death & Inevitable Comeback Of The Cosmo, SATC's Greatest Icon," 6 June 2018 Also on the Delta Blue Stage, Fleet Foxes sounded phenomenal, and again, the rain never bothered us, anyway. Gab Ginsberg, Billboard, "The Killers, St. Vincent, Portugal. The Man & More Bring Early Summer Heat to Boston Calling Festival," 28 May 2018 None of that bothered me as much as how grungy the place was. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: Folc Burger’s stayin’ alive at Bexar Pub," 17 May 2018 Get our daily newsletter Why should this bother us? The Economist, "People without degrees are the most under-represented minority," 10 May 2018 Like, my boobs are definitely three times the size, which bothers me. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Kylie Jenner Talks About Stretch Marks On Her Boobs and How Her Body Has Changed After Stormi," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Does a person incur the expense and bother of raising a family out of self-interest? Jeffrey Collins, WSJ, "‘Power, Pleasure, and Profit’ Review: Self-Mastery Versus Self-Interest," 5 Oct. 2018 Only 36 months more than the Soviet Union lasted, after all that bother? Karl Vick, Time, "Donald Trump Is Turning Davos Into a Globalist Throwdown," 25 Jan. 2018 The Phillies’ do-not-bother-asking list also likely includes Sixto Sanchez, the 19-year-old with the electric arm who is on the disabled list at high-A Clearwater. Bob Brookover,, "Want Manny Machado on the Phillies? Don't get attached to prospects | Bob Brookover," 6 July 2018 She is survived by her son Adam D. Sharaf of Simsbury, her daughter Alison of Hartford, her two grandchildren Hannah Sharaf of New York and Benjamin of Massachusetts, her bother Bernie Spiegel and his wife Carol of Florida. Hartford Courant,, "Ruth M. Sharaf," 12 July 2018 And some early season pests are no longer a bother. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star, "The Hoosier Gardener: Sow seeds now for late-summer edibles," 8 July 2018 Dents and dings are frequent bothers, these drivers say. Christina Rogers, WSJ, "Americans’ Love Affair With Huge Vehicles Collides With Tiny Parking Spaces," 15 June 2018 Sorry to be a bother, RMV employees, but some of us have work to return to, kids to pick up, places to be. Shirley Leung,, "Happy birthday to me: 3½ hours at the RMV waiting to renew my license," 6 June 2018 In a typical local election, fewer than one in five citizens bother to vote. Lee Drutman, Vox, "America has local political institutions but nationalized politics. This is a problem.," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bother.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bother


circa 1745, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1761, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for bother


of obscure origin

Note: Early attestations strongly associate the word with Ireland, though if bother is authentically Hiberno-English, the interdental consonant must be secondary, perhaps by association with earlier pother entry 1, itself of obscure origin. A hypothetical link with Irish bodhar "deaf, confused" is improbable given that the internal dental consonant in Irish was lost by 1300.


noun derivative of bother entry 1

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Statistics for bother

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bother

The first known use of bother was circa 1745

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More Definitions for bother



English Language Learners Definition of bother

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of bother (Entry 2 of 2)

: someone or something that is annoying or that causes trouble

: trouble or difficulty


both·​er | \ˈbät͟h-ər \
bothered; bothering

Kids Definition of bother

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

2 : to cause to worry Your illness bothers me.

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

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



Kids Definition of bother (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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

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Comments on bother

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


by force of circumstances

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