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 As everyone in the consumer tech industry knows, inertia is a powerful factor — customers almost never bother to change the default settings that come with their devices. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: An antitrust case against Google is a good thing; but Trump’s involvement may not be," 20 Oct. 2020 The pressure to perform in the fourth quarter doesn’t bother Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "All Cowboys WR Michael Gallup does is make clutch plays in big moments," 14 Oct. 2020 The cuts, however, didn’t bother Helen Clark, who was returning to Chicago after visiting San Antonio for a friend’s memorial service. Randy Diamond,, "All abroad Texas Eagle’s last daily departure from San Antonio to Chicago," 11 Oct. 2020 On Tuesday, Conley didn't even bother to take questions on the President's current condition. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "What Trump and Fox News said about medical records transparency in 2016," 7 Oct. 2020 Manufacturers who suspect that future politicians may renege on a pledge will not bother to make the investments needed to comply. The Economist, "Free exchange Outright bans can sometimes be a good way to fight climate change," 3 Oct. 2020 Many counties and towns didn’t bother creating legal ordinances that restricted beaches or public pools to white residents, but it was understood that Black people who challenged the norm would be met with violence. Sandra E. Garcia, New York Times, "On Long Island, a Beachfront Haven for Black Families," 1 Oct. 2020 Amazingly, Wallace didn’t bother to ask a follow-up question. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "Chris Wallace lost control of the Trump-Biden debate on a historically bad night of TV," 30 Sep. 2020 Memphis doesn't even bother going for the money or the HOH. Kyle Fowle,, "Big Brother recap: The Committee's HOH streak continues," 28 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Every time my wife hosted a party, I was sent to my study to tidy up piles and clear surfaces so that guests could rest their glasses and handbags on side tables without the bother of my clutter. Bebe Howorth, ELLE Decor, "This Is the Room Where Jon Meacham Makes History," 15 Oct. 2020 Nothing is going his way, and the workouts aren’t actual rec soccer, so why bother trying? Meghan Leahy, Washington Post, "My suddenly sedentary teen seems stuck. How much should I push him to move?," 9 Sep. 2020 In effect, its advocates are insisting that corporate money and power should be conscripted to force through a social and political agenda — without the bother of going through the ballot box. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of August 24," 28 Aug. 2020 The Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max and Facebook Portal were originally released as a way for folks to engage in video chatting and home entertainment without the bother of turning on the computer, phone or TV. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Zoom finally conferences in Alexa, Google and Facebook on Echo Show, Portal and Nest Hub Max," 19 Aug. 2020 With more than 250,000 downloads, the ads don’t seem to be that much of a bother. Dana Holmes, CNN Underscored, "A beginner’s guide to stargazing," 18 Aug. 2020 Because of the pandemic, some economists have pushed for a move away from banknotes and coins, especially the penny, which is seen as a bother by many retailers and consumers. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Need a quarter? Good luck. Nationwide coin shortage leaves local businesses scrounging for change," 15 Aug. 2020 Obviously, whatever was bother Kylie and Travis at the Grammys has been worked out and the couple is back to their adorable selves. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "A Complete Timeline of Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott's Relationship," 5 June 2020 On the other hand, would San Francisco winning a sixth Super Bowl bother Denver fans? Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post, "Broncos Insider: What team should Denver fans be rooting for in the Super Bowl?," 26 Jan. 2020

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

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 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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Comments on bother

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