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

The game still moves her, still energizes her, still bothers her. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: Diana Taurasi Still Putting On Shows In Connecticut," 14 July 2018 Choo said coming off the bench for a late at-bat with his strea on the line wouldn't bother him. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Rangers reaction: Jeff Banister reaches club milestone at record pace," 5 July 2018 If being called clueless or racist or old or stupid or ugly or libtard or Rethuglican or something worse bothers you, think about lumberjacks (the No. Stu Bykofsky,, "Note to U.S. journalists: Whine not | Stu Bykofsky," 5 July 2018 If that doesn’t bother you, feel free to use all olive oil. Anna Thomas Bates, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Need an easy slam-dunk for a potluck? Try marinated cheese," 4 July 2018 Now, with a $10 monthly payment (or no payment at all if ads don’t bother you), a Spotify subscriber gets instant access to roughly 35 million songs. John Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor, "How streaming is saving the music business," 3 July 2018 In Boston, the subway didn’t get you anywhere, but the stations were generally clean and quiet and no one bothered you on the actual train. Weike Wang, The New Yorker, "Omakase," 6 June 2018 With his ankle bothering him, Waiters’ numbers fell off dramatically during his 30 games this season, to 14.3 points and 3.8 assists per game and just 39.8 percent shooting and 30.6 percent on threes. Barry Jackson, miamiherald, "Here's one way Heat players believe team can improve significantly from within | Miami Herald," 27 Apr. 2018 Why can't a company be bothered to answer phone calls, anyway? Beth Thames,, "No, I'm not a robot, and what kind of question is that?," 25 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 For some people, migraine is an occasional bother; for others, a persistent scourge. R. Allan Purdy, Scientific American, "Can Anything Stop My Migraine?," 1 May 2017 He is preceded in death by bothers, George and Richard Pelletier and sisters, Anita Cowles and Jeanette Middlebrook., "Joseph Roger Pelletier," 15 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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Phrases Related to bother

save someone the trouble/bother

why bother

Statistics for bother

Last Updated

21 Sep 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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