- an imaginary hobgoblin or terror used to frighten children into good conduct
- anything causing seemingly needless or excessive fear or anxiety
Origin of bugbearbug + bear
- A cause of fear, anxiety, or irritation: Overcrowding is often a bugbear for train commuters.
- A difficult or persistent problem: “One of the major bugbears of traditional AI is the difficulty of programming computers to recognize that different but similar objects are instances of the same type of thing” (Jack Copeland).
- A fearsome imaginary creature, especially one evoked to frighten children.
Origin of bugbearObsolete bug, hobgoblin (from Middle English bugge, perhaps from Welsh bwg) + bear2.