both·​er | \ ˈbä-t͟hər How to pronounce bother (audio) \
bothered; bothering\ ˈbät͟h-​riŋ How to pronounce bothering (audio) , 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 interjectionallyOh, 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



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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kate Beckinsale is growing close to her new flame — and their age gap doesn’t bother her. Ale Russian,, "Kate Beckinsale’s New Flame Goody Grace's 'Age Is Not an Issue to Her' — 'It's Just a Number'," 15 Apr. 2020 With three other brothers around, bath time each evening was their time to check in, for Drew to talk about anything that was bothering him. Mandy Mclaren,, "'I feel like I betrayed my son.' Mom copes with effects of child's psychiatric hospitalization," 25 Mar. 2020 She was not bothered by the recent NDA controversy nor the allegations of inappropriate comments to female employees that have been raised against the former mayor. Armando Garcia, ABC News, "Billionaire Mike Bloomberg tells female voters: I will 'fight with you'," 29 Feb. 2020 Dear Annie: This has been bothering me for several years. oregonlive, "Dear Annie: I don’t want to be forced to say grace in my own home," 2 Feb. 2020 If possible, take all those smart devices and gift it to a neighbor who has been bothering you. Abhishek A., Quartz India, "Jeff Bezos likely failed the mobile security hygiene test. Don’t be Jeff Bezos," 22 Jan. 2020 If that’s true, why did Woody Allen bother writing a book at all? Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Woody Allen’s Memoir Is Shrouded in Secrecy. Why?," 1 Apr. 2020 Hundreds of millions of people around the world today, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, don’t even bother with the stuff, preferring instead to finish their bathroom visit with a clean rinse of water. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 31 Mar. 2020 To further complicate things, the FBI doesn’t bother with a plant. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Netflix's ‘Ozark’ goes way over the top in season 3. Here's why fans should hang on," 26 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So there is precedent in American history for a party becoming so split that members of both factions decide it’s no longer worth the bother. Michael Tomasky, The New York Review of Books, "The Party Cannot Hold," 27 Feb. 2020 The result is as effective as Lewis Carroll’s mile-for-mile map, without the bother for the farmers. Alex Davies, Wired, "With In-Car AR, Drivers Get a New View of the Road Ahead," 12 Feb. 2020 Commercial buildings were anathema to New York’s elite, who in the 19th century were forever fleeing farther uptown to escape such noise and bother. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, "Fighting to Preserve the Magic of Lower Fifth Avenue," 17 Jan. 2020 Don’t let any kind of disability bother you, especially like veterans but others, too. Sig Christenson,, "After stroke and homelessness, veteran took aim at a new reason to live," 27 Sep. 2019 Well, there's no penalty. KARA SWISHER: There's no bother. NBC News, "Meet the Press - December 29, 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 What if diesel engines really could be fundamentally cleaner from the fuel burn onward, without the extra cost and bother of exhaust-aftertreatment systems that need regular refilling? Steven Ashley, Scientific American, "Can Diesel Finally Come Clean?," 19 Dec. 2019 The Namibians were closer to full strength eight days after conceding 57 to South Africa, and gave New Zealand some bother in the first half. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Stand-in flyhalf Barrett leads All Blacks’ rout of Namibia," 6 Oct. 2019 The son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk and older bother of Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk put up career highs in goals (34), assists (43) and points (77) last season. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Flames sign Matthew Tkachuk to 3-year, $21 million deal," 25 Sep. 2019

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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Learn More about bother

Time Traveler for bother

Time Traveler

The first known use of bother was circa 1745

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Statistics for bother

Last Updated

19 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for bother


How to pronounce bother (audio)

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 How to pronounce bother (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on bother

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bother

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bother

Spanish Central: Translation of bother

Nglish: Translation of bother for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bother for Arabic Speakers

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