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



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 But if your car doesn’t require premium, don’t bother. cleveland, "Put the cap on gas prices: 6 ways to save at the pump," 3 Apr. 2021 The sliminess didn't bother me much — but the smell did. Jacqueline Kilikita,, "I Tried The DIY Aloe Vera Hair Mask That’s All Over TikTok," 26 Mar. 2021 But this will bother only those who know the broad outlines of the story already. Washington Post, "The minds behind artificial intelligence, and the bidding war for them," 19 Mar. 2021 Comcast’s Peacock has also invested heavily in sports — particularly soccer and the Olympics — but NFL broadcasts could be a big weapon in luring cord-cutters who don’t want to bother with an antenna. Josef Adalian, Vulture, "Paramount+ Is Here. Is It Too Late?," 4 Mar. 2021 And for a number of items, big retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon don't want to bother. John General, CNN, "Here's what really happens to the items you return online," 30 Jan. 2021 Finally, the majority agrees that regulators should not have to bother with defining markets before crashing in and stopping business taking place. Iain Murray, National Review, "Big Tech: Conservatives Should Be Wary of Compromise on Antitrust," 14 Oct. 2020 In an age of triumphant physics, did philosophy still need to bother with metaphysics? Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, "Philosophy in the Shadow of Nazism," 12 Oct. 2020 Want to let your hair down and enjoy a vacation with your girls without having to bother with planning, logistics, budgeting, and coordinating schedules? Skye Sherman, Travel + Leisure, "The Best Girlfriend Getaways Around the World for a Weekend Escape," 29 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In one respect, the insect is saving you the bother of aerating your lawn and woodland beds. Washington Post, "The cicadas are coming. But gardeners need not panic.," 31 Mar. 2021 That’s hardly a bother for normal people, but it’s complicated for professional athletes. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Getting Detroit Tigers the COVID-19 vaccine is more complicated than it sounds," 30 Mar. 2021 Only about a third of those eligible to vote bother to do so. The Economist, "Ballot boxing Britain struggles to define who should get the vote," 20 Mar. 2021 But just as in a tale from A.A. Milne, the protagonists have lately run into a spot of bother. The Economist, "Deliveroo’s listing is less appetising than hoped," 29 Mar. 2021 Instead, Obama quickly righted himself by grabbing the rails, then hustled down the rest of the steps without a bother. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, Forbes, "Biden’s Fall Ranks Among The Top Air Force One Gaffes — But It’s Not Number One," 20 Mar. 2021 The couple could sit on the deck, and even in the shade of their trees, without bother. Lauren Markham, Harper's Magazine, "The Crow Whisperer," 16 Mar. 2021 The choristers have already committed themselves to the church, so why bother trying to persuade them? Washington Post, "Racism targets some but works against everybody," 12 Mar. 2021 But for this soup there’s enough going on—tortellini, spinach, dill, parm—that one teeny curd of egg isn’t going to be a bother. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "Eggs Are Temperamental and Must Be Tempered," 8 Mar. 2021

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

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 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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