bug·​a·​boo | \ ˈbə-gə-ˌbü How to pronounce bugaboo (audio) \
plural bugaboos

Definition of bugaboo

1 : an imaginary object of fear
2 : bugbear sense 2 also : something that causes fear or distress out of proportion to its importance

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Examples of bugaboo in a Sentence

politicians complaining about that old bugaboo, high oil prices doing one's tax returns are a real bugaboo for some people
Recent Examples on the Web With just days left in his controversial presidency, Donald Trump continues to be a bugaboo for the Republican Party and a divisive force in American politics. Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas News, "Donald Trump remains a problem for GOP as Senate impeachment trial looms," 13 Jan. 2021 The bugaboo for the defense was allowing huge passing plays, particularly during a 2-4 start. G Smith, NOLA.com, "Sources: Jack Curtis out as Tulane defensive coordinator after five seasons," 10 Dec. 2020 Most of all, however, an anemic offense has been the biggest bugaboo for the Jaguars. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, "South Alabama football season reaches ‘must-win’ territory," 17 Nov. 2020 The only problem is the idea of taking out a few plays is actually insane, and these sorts of bugaboo plays have been killing New Orleans all season. Luke Johnson, NOLA.com, "Second look: The 3 Saints drives that won the game, and their defensive Achilles heel(s)," 27 Oct. 2020 Showing up for the playoffs hasn’t been the Cowboys' issue; hanging around is the bugaboo. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "This season has been one of Cowboys’ most catastrophic developments under Jerry Jones. Just don’t tell him," 15 Oct. 2020 The West was Ohio State’s bugaboo in 2018 and ’19, with road losses to Iowa and Purdue placing a hard ceiling on what the Buckeyes could accomplish. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football should not dismiss emerging threat from Big Ten’s Wild West: Buckeye Take," 10 June 2020 Paul’s fourth-quarter surge never materialized, and the Spurs even overcame an age-old bugaboo and made foul shots down the stretch to salt away the victory. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "Dejounte Murray’s career high helps San Antonio Spurs stop bleeding," 11 Feb. 2020 There is also the perennial bugaboo that always has some of the stars uninterested in attending. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, "Here’s why the NHL All-Star Game would be better at the start of season," 31 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bugaboo.' 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 bugaboo

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bugaboo

earlier buggybow, bugger-bo, of unknown origin

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Time Traveler for bugaboo

Time Traveler

The first known use of bugaboo was in 1598

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Statistics for bugaboo

Last Updated

30 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bugaboo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bugaboo. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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English Language Learners Definition of bugaboo

US, often disapproving : something that makes people very worried or upset

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