Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An object of obsessive, usually exaggerated fear or anxiety: "Boredom, laziness and failure . . . These bugaboos, magnified by imagination, keep [the workaholic] running” ( Dun's Review).
  • n. A recurring or persistent problem: "the bugaboos that have plagued vision systems: high price and slow throughput” ( Lawrence A. Goshorn).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative spelling of bug-a-boo.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Something frightful, as a specter; anything imaginary that causes needless fright; something used to excite needless fear; also, something really dangerous, or an imaginary monster, used to frighten children, etc.
  • n. a source of concern.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A bugbear; a bogy; a vain terror; something to frighten a child.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a source of concern
  • n. an imaginary monster used to frighten children

Etymologies

Perhaps of Celtic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • My main bugaboo is Labour's obession with non essential NHS staff-I know of a mental health trust that has a communications staff of 10 - and I have no doubt that this is also true throughout the country.

    John Reid Should be Ashamed

  • Rothbard extended its basic point into the market itself, and pointed out that in a free market, large firms tend to be unstable, and the ‘one big cartel’ bugaboo is totally unstable; just as unstable as a socialist system.

    Understanding Nozick Perfectly Well, Thank You

  • The bigger trading bugaboo is contraction: Marlins/Montreal.

    USATODAY.com - A capable rookie baserunner—finally

  • It’s funny how the bugaboo is always “theft,” huh?

    Matthew Yglesias » The Collapse of Latvia

  • In my own country, our bugaboo is Japan and while our munitions makers in America are preaching to us the doctrine, "Look out for Japan," over in Japan, the same identical munitions industry is preaching a doctrine to the people of Japan that has them saying, "Look out for Uncle Sam; look out for the United States" all of which is a very profitable foundation for those industries engaged in the manufacture and sale of munitions of war.

    Munitions

  • I thought his bugaboo was the 16th Amendment . . .

    "The Republican presidential candidates explain their judicial philosophies."

  • And in south Georgia, this fire called the bugaboo scrub fire has charred more than 130,000 acres.

    CNN Transcript May 14, 2007

  • His bugaboo has been the five home runs allowed in four starts, and he gave up another on Adrian Gonzalez's two-run shot in the first.

    post-gazette.com - News

  • Those universal Green OA mandates by authors 'institutions and funders (which Elsevier's Green policy greatly facilitates) -- along with time itself -- make it increasingly difficult for publishers even to contemplate back-tracking on their Green policies. back-tracking bugaboo, which is about as valid as the publisher lobby's repeated bugaboo that OA will destroy peer review.

    Open Access Archivangelism

  • Murdoch is a different kind of bugaboo than your faceless, corporate bugaboos, because we know him.

    Murdoch's Private Game

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