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 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

Instead lawmakers came together on a bipartisan basis every two years to increase spending over the caps, increasingly without bothering to pay for it. Erica Werner, Anchorage Daily News, "Senate passes broad two-year budget deal that increases spending and suspends the debt ceiling," 1 Aug. 2019 Instead lawmakers came together on a bipartisan basis every two years to increase spending over the caps, increasingly without bothering to pay for it. Erica Werner, Washington Post, "Senate passes two-year budget and debt ceiling bill, sending to Trump," 1 Aug. 2019 Injuries to his throwing hand, wrist and elbow had been bothering him., "Ryan Crouser rises to the moment, wins the shot at the USATF Outdoor Championships," 26 July 2019 This conversational pattern bothers me for a few reasons. Blair Braverman, Outside Online, "The Joy of Being All Alone Outdoors," 25 June 2019 After the third week, start keeping a close eye on the nest, without bothering mom. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Will duck that built her nest close to a busy road need help?," 17 June 2019 Amazon cloned a neighborhood to test its delivery robots Amazon needed a way to test its delivery robot, Scout, without bothering the neighbors. Alex Baker-whitcomb, WIRED, "Hackers Target US Power, Amazon Clones a Neighborhood, and More News," 14 June 2019 Still, some of my early fashion choices did bother him. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "What I’ve Learned About Style From My Nigerian Father," 14 June 2019 The simplest blemish on the field, which has been there since the school 10 minutes outside of Omaha, Nebraska, was built in 1961, bothers him. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville goes back to high school to prepare for dirt field at College World Series," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If missing out on those features isn’t a bother to you, this one stands out as being easier to stick in your pocket. Cameron Faulkner, The Verge, "Here’s where you’ll be able to preorder the Samsung Galaxy Note 10," 7 Aug. 2019 The production quality is high, the songs are catchy and viewers don’t necessarily need to speak English or bother following along with the plot, giving it an international reach. Raisa Bruner, Time, "What's a Jellicle, Anyway? Everything You Need to Know About Cats Before the Movie Adaptation," 18 July 2019 Occasionally, McIlroy's honesty or impishness has landed him in bother. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Rory McIlroy: Golf's 'Mozart' keen to 'smell the roses' in historic Open," 17 July 2019 She was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Doug Sr; 3 bothers: Richard, Carlton, and Sidney Johnston. Orlando Sentinel,, "Deaths in Central Florida: 6/16," 16 June 2019 My question is why would American Express bother to do this?, "American Express reduces customer’s credit limit because he barely used his credit card: Money Matters," 5 June 2019 Netflix doesn’t have to go to all the bother of creating TV pilots the way networks do in order to figure out what its viewers want to see. Philip Delves Broughton, WSJ, "‘Subscribed’ Review: For a Flat Monthly Fee," 17 July 2018 Under current election law, people who didn’t register for parliamentary elections won’t be able to vote for president. Mohammad Karim, a 40-year-old resident of Kabul, didn’t bother and will now be shut out of the presidential vote. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Afghanistan’s Elections Shrink in Face of Violence," 18 Oct. 2018 Mohammad Karim, a 40-year-old resident of Kabul, didn’t bother and will now be shut out of the presidential vote. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Powerful Afghan Police Chief Killed in Taliban Attack; Top U.S. Commander Escapes," 18 Oct. 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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Statistics for bother

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bother

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to shake or wave menacingly

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