Definition of bug in English:

bug

noun

  • 1informal A harmful microorganism, typically a bacterium:

    ‘their ham was found to be contaminated with food bugs’
    • ‘The bugs, bacteria and viruses contained in the raw sewage that is still pumped into seas around Scotland not only make us ill, in extreme cases they can kill.’
    • ‘The most common forms of the bug were now strain C of the bacterial meningococcal meningitis and its blood poisoning relative, septicaemia.’
    • ‘You also need a microscope to see the malarial bugs in the blood and in the mosquito, so this really slowed things down.’
    • ‘An angry mother has hit out at the state of Central Park Swimming Pool after the council closed it following the discovery of the killer lung bug legionella.’
    • ‘Chlorine is added during water treatment to kill bacteria, although some bugs such as cryptosporidium are extremely resistant to it.’
    • ‘These drugs fight the bugs by piercing the microbes and attacking their means of reproduction.’
    • ‘The good things that can be said for it are that it kept well and it was free from harmful bugs, something that could not often be said of the local water supply.’
    • ‘There were all sort of staph bugs in there tromping on the heart valves.’
    • ‘Some cases of gastritis are caused by an infection with the same bug that causes peptic ulcers.’
    • ‘Although microbiologists have been aware of the bugs' existence, experts are now saying the bacteria have almost certainly spread to every hospital in Scotland.’
    • ‘You have scrubbed, sprayed and wiped the kitchen and the bathroom and the shiny work surfaces look spotless, free from dirt, bugs and bacteria.’
    • ‘It protected the patient against any harmful bugs and was absolutely necessary to carry out orthopaedic surgery.’
    • ‘In extreme cases, some of the bugs, bacteria and viruses in the water - like E-Coli - can cause severe vomiting, fevers and even death.’
    • ‘This new test, though, looks specifically for DNA from the human papilloma virus, the bug linked to cervical cancer.’
    • ‘A team from Manchester University has discovered that a blend of essential oils usually used in aromatherapy could eradicate the MRSA bug and other deadly bacteria.’
    • ‘A bug, a bacterium called Propionobacterium acnes, that lives normally on the skin, can thrive within the blocked pore.’
    • ‘Well, the immune system really is a surveillance mechanism for all sorts of bugs, viruses, bacteria etc.’
    • ‘He said the bug, mutated bacteria found in the gut, was identified by microbiologists several years ago and was widespread throughout the world.’
    • ‘The saline solution means that any harmful bugs, viruses or bacteria cannot survive, so it is completely hygienic.’
    • ‘There's an estimated 90 trillion bugs and microscopic bacteria that make YOU their home.’
    1. 1.1 An illness caused by a microorganism:
      ‘he'd just recovered from a flu bug’
      • ‘One shot may be all your family needs to ward off the flu bug.’
      • ‘But on Tuesday night, a third of the guests were complaining of a stomach bug and sickness.’
      • ‘The flu bug is commonly believed to be a mere pest that can cause fever, nausea, and aches and pains - although it has had periods of pandemic proportions.’
      • ‘Overtraining depletes the bodily reserves, so when a flu bug or other illness starts making the rounds, the body is not ready to fight it off.’
      • ‘Sickness and diarrhoea bugs have swept through several wards at Burnley General Hospital - prompting bosses to call for unwell visitors to stay away.’
      • ‘A flagship London heart hospital was forced to close for two weeks after 45 staff and patients became ill with a diarrhoea bug.’
      • ‘Told that the city just doesn't have the resources the health-care workers need to combat the spreading bug, the microbiologist finally snaps.’
      • ‘Friends and extended family, though they may provide much support, can easily spread a cold or flu bug or other infections.’
      • ‘In fact, the Spanish flu bug was likely to have been around since 1900.’
      • ‘Chris died within a day of contracting the deadly brain bug meningococcal meningitis in January.’
      • ‘A school remained closed today after 150 pupils were struck down by a sickness bug.’
      • ‘As kids go back to school, they will inevitably catch some of the cold and flu bugs that are going around.’
      • ‘They say it's a virus and possibly one of those 24-hour flu bugs.’
      • ‘The main difference between SARS and most other flu bugs seems to be the relative mildness of SARS.’
      • ‘More cases of the killer bug are recorded in winter with children aged under five and between 15 and 17 at particular risk.’
      • ‘Eating chocolate may help to strengthen your immune system, making your body more resistant to cold and flu bugs.’
      • ‘Stomach bugs and other illnesses are also a risk to people risk swimming in waterways.’
      • ‘Every day we are exposed to disease, to cold and flu bugs, to viruses of one sort or another.’
      • ‘Bill Edmunds noticed that his young son seemed always to get a tummy bug right after his teeth had been painted with fluoride.’
      • ‘Noroviruses are highly contagious gastrointestinal bugs spread through food, water, and close contact with infected people.’
      illness, ailment, infection, disease, disorder, sickness, affliction, malady, complaint, upset, condition, infirmity, indisposition, malaise
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with modifier] An enthusiastic interest in something:
      ‘they caught the sailing bug’
      • ‘He went to Belvedere College after that but by that stage, the jumping bug had well and truly bitten and he was commuting daily to get his fix.’
      • ‘The writing bug bit early in life. We all had chores to do at home, but I discovered that my sisters would do my jobs in return for a story of their own.’
      • ‘Jenna caught the Beanie bear bug young and now has about 60 of the bears in her collection.’
      • ‘And after a trip to South Korea in 1999 Nadim got the bug to make surveillance his career.’
      • ‘Later, the recording bug bit me and took me away from the command line and into studios.’
      • ‘When the gardening bug bit, I had no place to grow but in front.’
      • ‘Bitten by the recording bug, Kate has just completed her debut album, which took two years to record.’
      • ‘One could fairly say, I think, that once a boater has settled into our marina, it's only a matter of time before the live-aboard bug bites.’
      • ‘Yes, the spring cleaning bug has bitten and God help anyone getting in my way.’
      • ‘And now even Pidí himself has caught the ice hockey bug.’
      • ‘The rugby league bug bit Adrian when he was six - his elder brothers took him to The Willows and Mary is convinced Adrian would have signed for Salford ahead of Leeds.’
      • ‘Late in life the junk store/flea market bug bit Papa hard.’
      • ‘When the gardening bug bites you, it usually happens around this time of year - and there will never be a better time than now to start.’
      obsession, enthusiasm, craze, fad, mania, rage, passion, fixation
      View synonyms
  • 2North American A small insect:

    ‘a thick green scum which crawls with bugs, centipedes, and worse’
    • ‘A large lantern insect, the mealy fly is a sucking bug.’
    • ‘I observed small creatures: ants, bugs, moths, worms, all working their ways, digging in and out of the soil.’
    • ‘With their little antennae they are one of the creepiest bugs ever.’
    • ‘In the middle of the reproductive period most bugs carry eggs.’
    • ‘On another newly renovated floor in the east wing, millions of moths, plant bugs, and spiders rest safely in large, new steel cabinets.’
    • ‘The chickens also have reduced the fire ant population by eating the bugs and seeds the ants would have sustained themselves on.’
    • ‘Car-boot sales and second-hand furniture is another way bugs get into homes - bedbugs and fleas are prime beneficiaries of the trend, says Sheard.’
    • ‘They counted gastropods, spiders, beetles and bugs, butterflies, lacewings and bees.’
    • ‘In ancient Egypt they worshipped all kinds of creatures even insects and bugs like a scarab beetle.’
    • ‘Helena is fascinated by ants and bugs; Caroline by the stars in the heavens.’
    • ‘Clean your windshield of bugs with a single-edge razor blade; buy them 100 to a box.’
    • ‘I asked the children to imagine themselves a small bug, like an ant, climbing up and down in an unknown landscape, and to draw their trails.’
    • ‘Since their introduction, the beneficial wasps have helped control plant bug populations throughout the Northeast.’
    • ‘Frogs eat a number of different garden pests including slugs, ants and other bugs.’
    • ‘Birds, bees, butterflies, bugs, bats, native plants and night-scented flowers have all figured in my postbag in recent weeks.’
    • ‘Tiny bugs crawled along the bark of ancient-looking trees.’
    • ‘Refrain from killing knowingly even the trifling insects like a louse, a bug or a mosquito.’
    • ‘Aphids - these small bugs are green in the East, pink in the West, and can suck the life out of rosebuds and tender stems.’
    • ‘Once the weather turns muggy it's a good idea to follow some of these suggestions in order to keep the bugs at bay.’
    • ‘‘We were knee-deep in mud and mangroves being bitten by fire ants, leeches and bugs,’ he recalls.’
    insect, flea, mite, midge
    View synonyms
  • 3Biology
    An insect of a large order distinguished by having mouthparts that are modified for piercing and sucking.

    See also Hemiptera
    • ‘Phytoseiid mites and heteropteran bugs are frequently part of the enemy complex of herbivorous arthropods in agroecosystems.’
    • ‘The Permian saw the appearance of stoneflies, true bugs, beetles, and caddisflies, among other groups.’
    • ‘The insect families that scientists lump together as aphids belong to the huge order of true bugs, which typically deploy sucking mouthparts much like built-in soda straws.’
    • ‘Worldwide, stilt bugs are a relatively small group of unusual hemipterans, or true bugs, in the family Berytidae.’
    • ‘Asynchronous flight muscle occurs in several of the more speciose insect orders, including beetles, true bugs, wasps and bees, and dipteran flies.’
  • 4A concealed miniature microphone, used for secret eavesdropping or recording:

    ‘they cleaned out the bugs and wiretaps’
    • ‘I used to make wireless cameras and telephone bugs and wire tap equipment just to test it out and try new theories on the use and deployment of such equipment.’
    • ‘Under pressure from the Feds, Mark helped the FBI place a pea-sized bug in a home in a Boston suburb.’
    • ‘Nicky counted four phones in the house, after planting the bugs, he planted three microphones as well.’
    • ‘That, according to sources, is a strong indication that it was the FBI's bug and they were the ones that put it there in the first place.’
    • ‘While checking your smoke detector for CIA planted bugs, you might want to also check the batteries so you don't burn to death in case of a fire.’
    • ‘Doesn't the President himself like the idea of naughty surveillance, wiretaps, and bugs?’
    • ‘New developments in the bizarre case of an FBI bug found in the office of the mayor of Philadelphia, John Street.’
    • ‘He only had the director's word for it that the room was clean of bugs.’
    • ‘Sir Alex Ferguson's match tactics and team talk were then taped by the mole tuning in to the bug's frequency and listening in on United's secrets.’
    • ‘However, at this week's hearing Detective Scott told the court that no conversations were recorded by the bug before its discovery.’
    • ‘Other figures, including LBJ and Martin Luther King are observed vicariously through wire taps or electronic bugs.’
    • ‘The courtroom was periodically swept for bugs.’
    • ‘And it was then that agent had to install a bug with microphones inside the mayor's office.’
    listening device, hidden microphone, receiver, transmitter, wire, wiretap, phone tap, tap
    View synonyms
  • 5An error in a computer program or system:

    ‘a custom program we used developed a bug’
    • ‘In 1999, a software bug knocked out a nationwide paging system for a day.’
    • ‘Without knowing these things, you probably have bugs running on your system, and never know it!’
    • ‘The game also plays host to a wide array of gameplay bugs and glitches.’
    • ‘Your particular problem is (in all likelihood) related to a bug in the program.’
    • ‘Or perhaps you don't want to load web/email bugs which spammers tend to use in their mailings.’
    • ‘The main causes are bugs and implementation errors in particular virtual machines.’
    • ‘No matter how reliable the disk, bad blocks happen - errors in cache, firmware, hardware and bugs are all causes.’
    • ‘The former does it to update its rules, the latter to install new bugs on your system faster and more easily.’
    • ‘He installed a firewall to protect against hackers, a virus protection program to stop online bugs.’
    • ‘I'd find bugs and the program manager would tell me to close the report without addressing the issue.’
    • ‘Rock Solid - Users do not need to worry about spyware, bugs, or computer crashes.’
    • ‘What would happen to accountability if an attacker would find a bug in a program and use it in order to gain access to medical records?’
    • ‘His teammates all agree that most of the teamwork happens in sharing the computer terminal and helping each other work bugs out of their programs.’
    • ‘Sometimes bugs can come and go, or networked programs may encounter bugs only when talking to specific servers or clients.’
    • ‘The gang plants software bugs in computers that allow it to steal passwords, and it rents out huge networks of computers to others for sending out viruses and spam.’
    • ‘Worse, it is theoretically impossible to determine whether computer systems are free from programming bugs or nefarious code.’
    • ‘But other bugs in large computer systems have led to failed space missions, airplane crashes and the death of hospital patients.’
    • ‘Most likely this is a software bug in Internet Explorer - I can honestly say that I do not recall ever experiencing this problem.’
    • ‘Millions of records will appear on public web pages ‘through a bug in the system which has since been resolved’.’
    • ‘Well, applications are prone to all types of problems, bugs, and errors.’
    fault, error, defect, flaw, imperfection, failing, breakdown
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verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Conceal a miniature microphone in (a room or telephone) in order to eavesdrop on or record someone's conversations secretly:

    ‘the telephones in the presidential palace were bugged’
    • ‘During the Second World War, British intelligence secretly bugged the cells occupied by some of the most senior German army, navy and air force commanders who had been captured by the Allies.’
    • ‘During the second world war when she befriended the journalist and historian Joseph Lash, US counter-intelligence agents bugged a room in the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago where they met.’
    • ‘MI5 telephone bugging operations alone monitor dozens of sensitive calls each day.’
    • ‘In one case permission was granted to bug the mobile phone of a ‘known criminal’.’
    • ‘They knew the rooms were bugged, so they'd come to the car and they'd take drives in the car and discuss their negotiating stances.’
    • ‘The telephone was bugged, and most of the rooms had mini microphones hidden under furniture and behind pictures.’
    • ‘According to media reports, New Zealand intelligence services obtained concrete evidence that they were Mossad agents by bugging their phones.’
    • ‘They enlisted the help of a wire-tapper to bug the star's telephone and bedroom.’
    • ‘During the playoffs in '82, Michaels claimed Raiders owner Al Davis had bugged the locker room at the Los Angeles Coliseum.’
    • ‘She told the court that after the affair had finished she had become suspicious that her husband was bugging her telephone calls.’
    • ‘His telephones were bugged and, sources say, warrants were obtained to insert listening devices in his home.’
    • ‘The documents reveal that during this time he bugged the phone of a county councillor.’
    • ‘Do we grant domestic security agents the right to bug phones, buildings and the like?’
    • ‘At first, I thought that a co-worker was bugging my telephone and my office.’
    • ‘Convinced that he has delivered evidence of his employer's wife's infidelity, Harry tries to intervene by bugging the hotel room where he fears that she will be murdered.’
    • ‘Each capability seems innocuous, but a hidden cellphone with both features can silently and automatically answer calls, establishing a radio link for bugging a room.’
    • ‘During EBA stoppages in Brisbane earlier this year, it was accused of bugging the telephones of ETU officials.’
    • ‘When another son raised suspicions, the police bugged Heather's telephone.’
    • ‘He also alleged that Angolan authorities were bugging his phone.’
    • ‘The court heard that undercover officers had bugged his phone as they investigated a number of allegations which did not lead to criminal charges.’
    eavesdrop, spy
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Record or eavesdrop on (a conversation) using a concealed microphone:
      ‘she fears that her conversations were bugged’
      • ‘He also said the allegations of bugging of conversations between solicitors and clients at Letterkenny Garda Station could be examined by the tribunal.’
      • ‘Unlike the old ones, the new groups do not gather in London's mosques on a Friday afternoon and attack the West for its policies while their speeches and conversation are bugged.’
      • ‘Whitehall is also said to be considering laws to allow transcripts of phone conversations bugged by MI5 to be used as evidence in court.’
      • ‘Mr Pinheiro said last month after the generals humiliated him by bugging his privileged conversations that reconciliation talks in Burma are going nowhere.’
      • ‘Again, the conversation was bugged; it gives a chilling insight into the mind of a hardened militant.’
      • ‘And there, suspecting that their conversation might be bugged, Green insisted upon their going out into the garden, where they sat drinking hot coffee in the chill of the night.’
      • ‘It concerned the bugging of former National Security Service chief's conversations with politicians, magistrates and journalists.’
      • ‘He is suspected of having reported the bugged conversations to his superiors on a regular basis.’
      • ‘A transcript of one bugged conversation played to the court revealed how the officer led the young man on.’
      • ‘Short herself suspected her own conversations with him were bugged by spies, even while she was conducting them.’
      • ‘The security services also admit bugging a conversation between other defendants and lawyers at Belmarsh.’
      • ‘It also led to the discovery of over 270 other tapes he was keeping, revealing that the spy agent illicitly bugged the conversations of nearly all the top figures of society.’
      • ‘Fair enough security and all that but they, whoever they were, were just as likely to bug the office as to bug their phone calls.’
      • ‘According to one bugged conversation, the new recruits were mostly north Africans but also included middle-class Europeans.’
      record, tap, listen in on, eavesdrop on, spy on, overhear
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  • 2informal Annoy or bother (someone):

    ‘a persistent reporter was bugging me’
    • ‘If you're bugged by loud and persistent noise at work, like a bone-shaking assembly line, you can campaign for a better working environment, suggests Professor Cooper.’
    • ‘Being in different high schools was OK, because we could at least see each other on weekends, but living in different countries bugs me a lot.’
    • ‘Okay, here is what really bugs me about this new show.’
    • ‘Little things that don't bug other people severely irritate me.’
    • ‘Well, my problem is that he is really starting to bug me and he does these things that really annoy me.’
    • ‘I have a couple of guys who do this, and it bugs me.’
    • ‘Admit that something about your appearance bugs you, and ask someone you trust for advice on how to turn it into an asset.’
    • ‘Tell her how much trouble she can get into and if she keeps bugging you or gets disappointed, then talk to an adult you trust.’
    • ‘I know neither of them would hurt me, but it bugs me.’
    • ‘The guy's evident discomfort was starting to bug him.’
    • ‘Even if that sort of thing bugs you, though, I'd recommend pushing past it, because the meat of the book is well worth reading.’
    • ‘It really bugs me that I can't remember the titles.’
    • ‘No one bugged me then, and I didn't want to bug these people, either.’
    • ‘‘Go back to your own class and stop bugging me,’ I say, annoyed.’
    • ‘He'll have a partner for the kiddie rides and will be less likely to bug your friends.’
    • ‘Stay calm, state exactly what he's doing to annoy you and say clearly that it's bugging you.’
    • ‘What bugs me the most is that here we are in a country which boasts an abundance of the finest produce known to man, yet we stubbornly insist on eating food which is as far removed from its natural state as possible.’
    • ‘What bugs me is that we weren't told it was a gamble.’
    • ‘But that's not what really bugs me about this whole thing.’
    • ‘And don't worry about bugging me, it's nice to know that some people really enjoy what I write.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • bug off

    • Go away:

      ‘I assumed you'd come to tell me to bug off’
      • ‘‘Oh, bug off, Willis,’ said Jacob, coming to the rescue from behind the tills.’
      • ‘I wanted to resolve things with Carter… but I wanted to tell him to bug off at the same time.’
      • ‘Of course, this was Michael I was dealing with, and there was no way I was going to persuade him to bug off.’
      • ‘Just go tell this Royal Messenger to bug off like you did the last one.’
      • ‘Why couldn't I just have told Van to bug off and that I'm not interested in getting to know him?’
      • ‘‘When a husband and child are Irish and living in Ireland and the mother and wife are being told to bug off to Kiev to get a visa, I think that's a bit rich,’ he added.’
      • ‘It's not like they'll think less of you if you tell them to bug off.’
      • ‘Well, when he did greet me on the tenth of April, I don't know, but somehow the other voice was telling my cynical side to bug off.’
      • ‘I told him to bug off and he said he didn't realize anyone lived here.’
      • ‘She politely told him to bug off and returned to the breakfast table to finish the comics.’
      • ‘She takes from me and reads it: Thoughts can be private, too, so bug off.’
      go away, depart, leave, take off, get out, get out of my sight
      View synonyms
  • bug out

    • 1Leave quickly:

      ‘if you see enemy troops, bug out’
      • ‘But bugging out before next year's election could leave the administration facing even tougher decisions a little further down the road.’
      • ‘He bugged out for an entire year of his duty - desertion in wartime, a capital offense, if you're not rich and well-connected.’
      • ‘It was only motherly intervention that convinced her to bug out.’
      • ‘Once there, he claimed purple hearts for every scratch, and bugged out as quickly as humanly possible.’
      • ‘But I simply do not see any option whatever for bugging out, hiving off and starting something else.’
      • ‘Clearly, there's a whole lot going on inside the museum, but perhaps it's best that some doors stay closed: watching some of the action might just cause people to bug out.’
      abscond, make off, run off, run away, flee, bolt, take off, take flight, disappear, vanish, slip away, steal away, sneak away, beat a hasty retreat, escape, make a run for it, make one's getaway, leave, depart, make oneself scarce
      View synonyms
    • 2Bulge outwards:

      ‘men's eyes bug out when she walks past’
      • ‘My eyes nearly bugged out of my head when I saw Jessica sitting where I had been.’
      • ‘‘How pleasant,’ I finally said, hoping that he couldn't see my eyes bugging out as I masqueraded dropping something on the ground, and reaching down to retrieve it.’
      • ‘Kenny's smile fell off his face and he stopped dead in his tracks and his eyes bugged out in surprise.’
      • ‘With her jaw dropped and eyes bugging out, it wasn't her most attractive moment.’
      • ‘All the flashing lights still made my eyes bug out of their sockets and the bright letters talking about an actress or famous actor in a play still made me wish I were on Broadway.’
      • ‘When I woke up this morning I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, and my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out.’
      • ‘I can't help my eyes from bugging out at the shock of hearing that sentence.’
      • ‘As my pager rarely goes off when I'm not at work, I was a little slow in recognizing the sound and digging the dreaded noise box out of my bag, but when I did, my eyes bugged out.’
      • ‘His face was red, his eyes bugging out, his entire being seemingly contorted in fury.’
      • ‘There's just a feeling about those shots, with her eyes sort of bugging out, that you look at that and say: ‘Is she going to run or do something?’’
      • ‘Elizabeth's eyes nearly bugged out when she saw it.’
      • ‘I thought your eyes were going to bug out of your head!’
      • ‘My eyes pretty much bugged out when I saw the claim that square A is the same shade of grey as square B.’
      • ‘He came out, his eyes bugging out of his head, let out of the truck.’
      • ‘Nath sucked down some flaming blue cocktail and his eyes bugged out.’
      • ‘I have printed it out so I can read it without my eyes bugging out.’
      • ‘We are also talking with a man whose eyes bug out when he talks and a couple of other nondescript people at our table, and the rest of the group are at the table opposite, a bunch of 40 something men talking animatedly over their pints.’
      • ‘I am also presently shopping around at the Buy and Sell webpage for a phone, and my eyes are bugging out at the prices.’
      • ‘Sam knew her eyes bugged out when she heard this so she tried her best to school her features before turning to look at Jake.’

Origin

Early 17th century: of unknown origin. Current verb senses date from the early 20th century.

Pronunciation

bug

/bʌɡ/