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noun (1)

bu·​gle ˈbyü-gəl How to pronounce bugle (audio)
: any of a genus (Ajuga) of plants of the mint family
especially : a European annual (A. reptans) that has spikes of blue flowers and is naturalized in the U.S.


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noun (2)

: a valveless brass instrument that resembles a trumpet and is used especially for military calls

Illustration of bugle

Illustration of bugle


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bugled; bugling ˈbyü-g(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce bugle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to sound a bugle
: to utter the characteristic rutting call of the bull elk


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noun (3)

: a small cylindrical bead of glass or plastic used for trimming especially on women's clothing

Did you know?

What is the origin of bugle?

In early English, the word bugle meant “wild ox.” The horns of oxen were made into signaling devices for soldiers and hunters, first called bugle horns. Later this was shortened to bugle.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below 7 The Call to the Post A bugle call signals that the horses and jockeys are about to enter the track and make their way to the starting gate. Claire Brito, House Beautiful, 7 May 2023 Some 4,000 troops marched in formation through the streets, their scarlet sleeves and white gloves swinging in unison to the sound of drums and bugles from marching bands, including one group of musicians on horseback. Brian Melley, BostonGlobe.com, 7 May 2023 According to Harper's Bazaar, Doja Cat's ensemble included an Oscar de la Renta hooded gown with 350,000 silver and white bugle beads assembled via 5,000 hours of work. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 2 May 2023 Over 5,000 hours of work went into creating the dazzling piece, which includes 350,000 silver and white bugle beads. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 2 May 2023 In the 1940s, Mrs. Mumie recalled, a bugle would announce the daily 4 p.m. circus act. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2021 The bugle calls of the sandhill crane could be heard overhead as wave upon wave of the migrating birds made their way Wednesday to roosting pastures at the Jasper Pulaski Wildlife Center in Medaryville. Carrie Napoleon, chicagotribune.com, 13 Nov. 2020 Trumpeter Murray Gordon brought two instruments in a carrying case in the event one of them failed, a silver trumpet with valves and a bugle which plays in one key. Karie Angell Luc, Chicago Tribune, 12 Sep. 2022 Grace Adduci, a representative of Bugles Across America, played taps, a short bugle call most associated with military funerals. Stacy St. Clair, chicagotribune.com, 31 May 2021
Campers here love the chance to spot grazing bison and meadows blooming with wildflowers in the spring and summer, as well as bull elk bugling in the fall. Skye Sherman, Travel + Leisure, 26 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bugle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English bugle, bugill, borrowed from Anglo-French bugle, borrowed from Medieval Latin bugula, of uncertain origin; perhaps from the same source as Late Latin bugillōn-, bugillō, if it designates the same plant

Noun (2)

Middle English, buffalo, instrument made of buffalo horn, bugle, from Anglo-French, from Latin buculus, diminutive of bos head of cattle — more at cow

Noun (3)

perhaps from bugle entry 2

First Known Use

Noun (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above


1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (3)

1573, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bugle was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near bugle

Cite this Entry

“Bugle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bugle. Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a brass musical instrument like the trumpet but without valves
bugle verb


Middle English bugle "wild ox," from early French bugle (same meaning), from Latin buculus "young steer"

Word Origin
In early English the word bugle meant "wild ox." The horns of oxen were made into signaling devices for soldiers and hunters, first called bugle horns. Later this was shortened to bugle.

More from Merriam-Webster on bugle

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