bug·​a·​boo | \ˈbə-gə-ˌbü \
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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Synonyms for bugaboo


bête noire, bogey (also bogie), bugbear, dread, hobgoblin, ogre

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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

And in the Orioles’ 5-3 loss to the Mariners, that was the bugaboo for Castro again. Eduardo A. Encina, baltimoresun.com, "Reliever Miguel Castro's walks hurt Orioles in 5-3 loss to Mariners," 25 June 2018 What the Spurs do give a damn about is their inability to win on the road lately and an old bugaboo that resurfaced at the Staples Center: porous fourth quarter defense. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs’ road woes continue with fourth quarter meltdown," 4 Apr. 2018 Then, all of Cashner’s greatest bugaboos this season coalesced in the sixth inning, which turned a would-be win into a no-decision. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Trumbo's 8th-inning single breaks tie, helps Orioles end 7-game slide by beating Royals, 5-3," 10 May 2018 If Obama favored net neutrality, congressional Republicans were opposed, and the formerly technocratic issue became a right-wing bugaboo. Andrew Rice, WIRED, "This Is Ajit Pai, Nemesis of Net Neutrality," 16 May 2018 The former is a bugaboo for U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, the latter for Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans. Drew Broach, NOLA.com, "Facebook moves to audit its political bias, treatment of minorities," 7 May 2018 Sugar has replaced fat as the dominant bugaboo in America’s perennial obsessiveness over what foods to avoid. Andrew Furman, WSJ, "The Orange Is the Apple of My Eye," 22 Mar. 2018 The Panthers, however, are more than talented enough to wear the crown again, but settling for jump shots and their reliance on offense instead of defense are bugaboos that could yield an upset. Aaron Carter, Philly.com, "Donta Scott, Imhotep prepare for postponed PIAA final," 21 Mar. 2018 McIlroy’s 5-under 67 Saturday was his lowest round in five PGA Tour events this season and featured just 25 putts — long his bugaboo. Edgar Thompson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Tiger Woods five back at Bay Hill, where Henrik Stenson tops big-name leaderboard," 18 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for bugaboo

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Time Traveler for bugaboo

The first known use of bugaboo was in 1598

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English Language Learners Definition of bugaboo

: something that makes people very worried or upset

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Comments on bugaboo

What made you want to look up bugaboo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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