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

  • n. A bugaboo.
  • n. A fearsome imaginary creature, especially one evoked to frighten children.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ongoing problem; a recurring obstacle or adversity.
  • n. A source of dread; resentment; or irritation.
  • n. An imaginary creature meant to inspire fear in children.
  • v. To alarm with idle phantoms.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Same as bugaboo.
  • transitive v. To alarm with idle phantoms.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Something that causes terror; especially, something that causes needless fright or apprehension.
  • Occasioning causeless fear: as, “such bugbear thoughts,”
  • To alarm with imaginary or idle fears.

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

  • n. an imaginary monster used to frighten children
  • n. an object of dread or apprehension


Obsolete bug, hobgoblin (from Middle English bugge, perhaps from Welsh bwg) + bear2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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