Notes: I’ve never run across this word
The word bugbear means
- any source, real or imaginary, of needless fright or fear
- a persistent problem or source of annoyance
- a goblin that eat up naught children [folklore]
Our word came into English in the mid- to late 1500s
Background / Comments
I have run across the second definition of our word, but the third one (from folklore) and the first one are ones that I did not know. Our word is a combination of bug and bear. The word bug does not refer to an insect, but is an obsolete word meaning “a bogy or hobgoblin”. It comes from the Middle English word bugge (scarecrow; demon; hobgoblin). The word bear refers to the animal.