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

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 The methane bugaboo began around 2003 when a mysterious cloud of methane gas was found, by satellite, hovering above Farmington in New Mexico. Ian Palmer, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Lindholm should also help in late-game, lead-protection situations, which have been a bugaboo for the B’s in recent weeks. Steve Conroy, courant.com, 19 Mar. 2022 Pearl hopes his staff can find some ways to curb the bugaboo of foul issues that could eventually bite the Tigers. al, 11 Jan. 2022 Slow starts have remained a bugaboo this season; the Steelers trailed Kansas City 23-0 at halftime and by 30 in the second half of their meeting earlier this season. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 16 Jan. 2022 The 2011 first-round pick has played in just nine games this season, sidelined for stretches by injuries — a bugaboo throughout his 11 years — and the coronavirus. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, 6 Jan. 2022 Jarquez Hunter averaged 21 yards on a pair of kickoff returns, and perhaps most importantly, Auburn did not commit any penalties on special teams—something that had been a bugaboo for the Tigers during much of the year. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 29 Dec. 2021 First, let’s disabuse ourselves of the bugaboo of the mass exit of teachers. Talia Milgrom-elcott, Forbes, 21 Dec. 2021 Turnovers have been our bugaboo the last few years. Bob Narang, chicagotribune.com, 23 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bugaboo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bugaboo. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on bugaboo

Nglish: Translation of bugaboo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bugaboo for Arabic Speakers


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