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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In other cases, drivers didn’t even bother with a badge. NBC News, "Inside Amazon's delivery push: Employees and drivers say an overworked system is lax on safety as packages pile up," 27 Nov. 2019 Don’t bother fighting with the tails — that bit of crunchy chitin is a bonus. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Harold's Chicken Shack is a Chicago icon. Here's what to try at the first Arizona location," 20 Nov. 2019 Nevertheless, some employers still don't bother to double-check a candidate's stated credentials before hiring them. Jeffrey L. Seglin,, "What you put online is fair game for employer to dissect," 20 Nov. 2019 Trump doesn’t bother with the same Olympic-level mental gymnastics shown by Fox News hosts and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Donald Trump and the Absolute Power Presidency," 18 Nov. 2019 Most didn’t bother going to the new site — the high school stadium just south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport., "Watch: Colin Kaepernick’s workout," 17 Nov. 2019 As far as cheats go, this one didn’t bother me too much, as it is mostly dried bread and spices. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Turn back-of-the-package recipes into a memorable Thanksgiving meal with these simple upgrades," 14 Nov. 2019 In 1990, the Republicans didn’t bother to field a candidate. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "William Hughes, Congressman and Ambassador, Dies at 87," 10 Nov. 2019 Still, that doesn't mean the negative comments and trolls don't bother her. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Demi Lovato on New Music, Body Acceptance, and Strength at the 2019 Teen Vogue Summit," 3 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Rather than risking the bother and bad publicity of putting journalists on trial, some regimes try to intimidate them into docility. The Economist, "The global gag on free speech is tightening," 15 Aug. 2019 The Englishman may have just saved City's season, as more dropped points would have left the current Premier League champions in a spot of bother., "Fantasy Premier League: The 10 Players Who Scooped Man of the Match in Gameweek 11," 4 Nov. 2019 With Liverpool throwing away a three-goal lead at Anfield and Barcelona trailing at the Nou Camp, two of the favorites for the Champions League title were in a spot of bother in their iconic stadiums on Wednesday. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Liverpool, Barcelona dig out wins in Champions League," 2 Oct. 2019 But for some businesses, cash represents an expensive, risky inconvenience that’s not worth the bother. Anne Kadet, WSJ, "Card-Only Businesses Have Swiped Away Cash-Paying Customers," 15 Jan. 2019 The sheer bother of bureaucracy probably stops others from opting out. The Economist, "Why so many non-religious Europeans pay church taxes," 12 Sep. 2019 Andre Koji is already set to play Storm Shadow, a ninja who is both Snake Eyes’ blood bother and archenemy. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Raid' Star Iko Uwais in Talks to Join G.I. Joe Spinoff 'Snake Eyes' (Exclusive)," 6 Sep. 2019 To cut into an airport line or pull rank bothers citizens, who have convinced themselves that no one is better than they. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The American Middle Class," 22 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bother

Time Traveler for bother

Time Traveler

The first known use of bother was circa 1745

See more words from the same year

Statistics for bother

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Bother.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


easily led, controlled, or managed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!