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
Recent Examples of bugbear from the Web
Joannopoulos said that the two competing methods of making photonic crystals — lithography and self-assembly — are each battling their own set of bugbears.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bugbear'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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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