• (RP) IPA: /ˈbʌɡ.bɛə(ɹ)/, /ˈbʌɡ.bɛː(ɹ)/, enPR: ˈbŭg-bâr
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈbʌɡ.bɛɚ/, enPR: ˈbŭg-bär

bugbear (plural bugbears)

  1. An ongoing problem; a recurring obstacle or adversity.
  2. A source of dread; resentment; or irritation. [from late 16th c.]
    Synonyms: pet peeve
    • 1738, Alexander Pope, Epistle I of the First Book of Horace; to Lord Bolingbroke
      But, to the world no bugbear is so great
      As want of figure and a small estate.
    • 1841, Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop, chapter 3
      What have I done to be made a bugbear of, and to be shunned and dreaded as if I brought the plague?
  3. (archaic) An imaginary creature meant to inspire fear in children.
    Synonyms: goblin

bugbear (bugbears, present participle bugbearing; past and past participle bugbeared)

  1. (transitive) To alarm with idle phantoms.

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