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 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 Shesterkin was getting a crash course in the Rangers’ bugaboo, a porous defense, a weakness that is not always a problem because of their high-scoring star, Artemi Panarin. Allan Kreda, New York Times, "A Great Goaltending Hope Arrives With a Win," 8 Jan. 2020 Cleveland’s bugaboo was on full display Tuesday night. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers’ fourth-quarter issues fall on John Beilein, Collin Sexton and bad habit of misusing Kevin Love," 8 Jan. 2020 Of late, WSU’s pass defense has been the major bugaboo. oregonlive, "Is Washington State’s Anthony Gordon the country’s best QB? Is Mike Leach leaving Pullman? Five questions answered by a WSU football expert," 21 Nov. 2019 The 2019 bugaboo for Rivers had been unforced errors. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: For Chargers, a big-stage debacle that Philip Rivers was fortunate to survive," 14 Oct. 2019 In their 7-4 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, Colorado flashed some enticing potential, but ultimately, the same old bugaboo reared its ugly head. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies blow ninth-inning lead; right-hander Jeff Hoffman turns in solid start vs. Mets," 18 Sep. 2019 My bugaboo was players who criticized their partner when any fault was their own. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, "Bridge: Sept. 17, 2019," 17 Sep. 2019

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

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bugaboo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bugaboo. Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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How to pronounce bugaboo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bugaboo

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on bugaboo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bugaboo

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bugaboo

Spanish Central: Translation of bugaboo

Nglish: Translation of bugaboo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bugaboo for Arabic Speakers

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