any source, real or imaginary, of needless fright or fear.
a persistent problem or source of annoyance.
Folklore. a goblin that eats up naughty children.

1570–80; bug2 + bear2

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To bugbear
World English Dictionary
bugbear (ˈbʌɡˌbɛə)
1.  a thing that causes obsessive fear or anxiety
2.  (in English folklore) a goblin said to eat naughty children and thought to be in the form of a bear
[C16: from bug² + bear²; compare bugaboo]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1580s, a sort of demon in the form of a bear that eats small children, also "object of dread" (whether real or not), from bug (n.) + bear (n.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Example sentences
What had once been a bugbear was now a bullish sign of growth.
Then came tho report of the committee on demands, anticipation of which has been a sort of bugbear to the delegates.
He avers that this civil service pension list is simply a bugbear held up by the opponents of reform.
Related Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature