bother

1 of 2

verb

both·​er ˈbä-t͟hər How to pronounce bother (audio)
bothered; bothering ˈbät͟h-riŋ How to pronounce bother (audio)
ˈbä-t͟hə-

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 3) : take the trouble
never bothered to ask

bother

2 of 2

noun

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

Verb 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. Noun 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
O’Brien even got hired to produce the next Pearl Jam album, Vs., so clearly, Vedder and company weren’t bothered by all the chatter. Al Shipley, SPIN, 8 June 2024 Don’t bother pressuring building management to compel the installation of the smoke abatement equipment, said Adam Leitman Bailey, a real estate lawyer in Manhattan who has handled cases involving smoke odors. Jill Terreri Ramos, New York Times, 8 June 2024
Noun
There are students, even some from proudly Zionist families, who chalk up taunts about their religion as only a mild bother, the stuff of youthful, misguided teasing — sometimes coming from close friends. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, 7 May 2024 After a day or so, they got used to the noise and so did I. Even at higher power levels, the sound isn’t much louder than the Philips Sonicare model I was used to, and certainly not so much louder as to be a bother after a brief adjustment period. PCMAG, 16 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for bother 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bother.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

noun derivative of bother entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

circa 1745, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1761, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of bother was circa 1745

Dictionary Entries Near bother

Cite this Entry

“Bother.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bother. Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

bother

1 of 2 verb
both·​er ˈbät͟h-ər How to pronounce bother (audio)
bothered; bothering -(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce bother (audio)
1
a
: to upset often with minor details : annoy
b
: to intrude upon : interrupt
2
a
: to cause to be worried or concerned
b
: to become concerned
3
: to take the trouble : make an effort
don't bother to knock

bother

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: the state of being bothered
b
: someone or something that bothers in a small way
what a bother a cold can be
2

More from Merriam-Webster on bother

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