Definition of bugbear
1 : an imaginary goblin or specter used to excite fear
2a : an object or source of dreadb : a continuing source of irritation : problem
bugbear was our Word of the Day on 11/06/2012. Hear the podcast!
Examples of bugbear in a sentence
The biggest bugbear of the skiing business is a winter with no snow.
communism was once the nation's biggest bugbear
Did You Know?
Bugbear sounds like some kind of grotesque hybrid creature from fable or folklore, and that very well may be what the word's creator was trying to evoke. When the word entered English in the 16th century, it referred to any kind of creature made up to frighten someone-most often a child; in 1592, Thomas Nashe wrote of "Meere bugge-beares to scare boyes." The word combines "bug," an old word for goblin, with "bear," which is perhaps what such made-up creatures were described as resembling. The "source of dread or annoyance" sense came not long after. In the late 20th century, the word found new life as the name of a particular kind of creature in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
First Known Use of bugbear
BUGBEAR Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of bugbear for English Language Learners
: something that causes problems or annoys people
Seen and Heard
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