Definition of bug in English:



  • 1North American A small insect.

    • ‘In ancient Egypt they worshipped all kinds of creatures even insects and bugs like a scarab beetle.’
    • ‘Since their introduction, the beneficial wasps have helped control plant bug populations throughout the Northeast.’
    • ‘They counted gastropods, spiders, beetles and bugs, butterflies, lacewings and bees.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Birds, bees, butterflies, bugs, bats, native plants and night-scented flowers have all figured in my postbag in recent weeks.’
    • ‘I observed small creatures: ants, bugs, moths, worms, all working their ways, digging in and out of the soil.’
    • ‘The chickens also have reduced the fire ant population by eating the bugs and seeds the ants would have sustained themselves on.’
    • ‘Clean your windshield of bugs with a single-edge razor blade; buy them 100 to a box.’
    • ‘A large lantern insect, the mealy fly is a sucking bug.’
    • ‘Refrain from killing knowingly even the trifling insects like a louse, a bug or a mosquito.’
    • ‘With their little antennae they are one of the creepiest bugs ever.’
    • ‘Tiny bugs crawled along the bark of ancient-looking trees.’
    • ‘In the middle of the reproductive period most bugs carry eggs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Aphids - these small bugs are green in the East, pink in the West, and can suck the life out of rosebuds and tender stems.’
    • ‘Frogs eat a number of different garden pests including slugs, ants and other bugs.’
    • ‘Helena is fascinated by ants and bugs; Caroline by the stars in the heavens.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On another newly renovated floor in the east wing, millions of moths, plant bugs, and spiders rest safely in large, new steel cabinets.’
    insect, flea, mite, midge
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    1. 1.1informal A harmful microorganism, as a bacterium or virus.
      • ‘There's an estimated 90 trillion bugs and microscopic bacteria that make YOU their home.’
      • ‘Although microbiologists have been aware of the bugs' existence, experts are now saying the bacteria have almost certainly spread to every hospital in Scotland.’
      • ‘This new test, though, looks specifically for DNA from the human papilloma virus, the bug linked to cervical cancer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some cases of gastritis are caused by an infection with the same bug that causes peptic ulcers.’
      • ‘Chlorine is added during water treatment to kill bacteria, although some bugs such as cryptosporidium are extremely resistant to it.’
      • ‘He said the bug, mutated bacteria found in the gut, was identified by microbiologists several years ago and was widespread throughout the world.’
      • ‘You have scrubbed, sprayed and wiped the kitchen and the bathroom and the shiny work surfaces look spotless, free from dirt, bugs and bacteria.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It protected the patient against any harmful bugs and was absolutely necessary to carry out orthopaedic surgery.’
      • ‘Well, the immune system really is a surveillance mechanism for all sorts of bugs, viruses, bacteria etc.’
      • ‘The most common forms of the bug were now strain C of the bacterial meningococcal meningitis and its blood poisoning relative, septicaemia.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You also need a microscope to see the malarial bugs in the blood and in the mosquito, so this really slowed things down.’
      • ‘In extreme cases, some of the bugs, bacteria and viruses in the water - like E-Coli - can cause severe vomiting, fevers and even death.’
      • ‘The saline solution means that any harmful bugs, viruses or bacteria cannot survive, so it is completely hygienic.’
      • ‘These drugs fight the bugs by piercing the microbes and attacking their means of reproduction.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There were all sort of staph bugs in there tromping on the heart valves.’
      • ‘A bug, a bacterium called Propionobacterium acnes, that lives normally on the skin, can thrive within the blocked pore.’
    2. 1.2An illness caused by a harmful microorganism such as a bacterium or virus.
      ‘suffering from a flu bug’
      • ‘Eating chocolate may help to strengthen your immune system, making your body more resistant to cold and flu bugs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A flagship London heart hospital was forced to close for two weeks after 45 staff and patients became ill with a diarrhoea bug.’
      • ‘But on Tuesday night, a third of the guests were complaining of a stomach bug and sickness.’
      • ‘Sickness and diarrhoea bugs have swept through several wards at Burnley General Hospital - prompting bosses to call for unwell visitors to stay away.’
      • ‘As kids go back to school, they will inevitably catch some of the cold and flu bugs that are going around.’
      • ‘Chris died within a day of contracting the deadly brain bug meningococcal meningitis in January.’
      • ‘In fact, the Spanish flu bug was likely to have been around since 1900.’
      • ‘More cases of the killer bug are recorded in winter with children aged under five and between 15 and 17 at particular risk.’
      • ‘One shot may be all your family needs to ward off the flu bug.’
      • ‘Stomach bugs and other illnesses are also a risk to people risk swimming in waterways.’
      • ‘Told that the city just doesn't have the resources the health-care workers need to combat the spreading bug, the microbiologist finally snaps.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Friends and extended family, though they may provide much support, can easily spread a cold or flu bug or other infections.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A school remained closed today after 150 pupils were struck down by a sickness bug.’
      • ‘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
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    3. 1.3informal [with modifier]An enthusiastic, almost obsessive, interest in something.
      ‘they caught the sailing bug’
      ‘Joe was bitten by the showbiz bug’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And after a trip to South Korea in 1999 Nadim got the bug to make surveillance his career.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yes, the spring cleaning bug has bitten and God help anyone getting in my way.’
      • ‘Later, the recording bug bit me and took me away from the command line and into studios.’
      • ‘Late in life the junk store/flea market bug bit Papa hard.’
      • ‘And now even Pidí himself has caught the ice hockey bug.’
      • ‘Jenna caught the Beanie bear bug young and now has about 60 of the bears in her collection.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      obsession, enthusiasm, craze, fad, mania, rage, passion, fixation
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  • 2Biology
    An insect of a large order distinguished by having mouthparts that are modified for piercing and sucking.

    • ‘The Permian saw the appearance of stoneflies, true bugs, beetles, and caddisflies, among other groups.’
    • ‘Worldwide, stilt bugs are a relatively small group of unusual hemipterans, or true bugs, in the family Berytidae.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Asynchronous flight muscle occurs in several of the more speciose insect orders, including beetles, true bugs, wasps and bees, and dipteran flies.’
    • ‘Phytoseiid mites and heteropteran bugs are frequently part of the enemy complex of herbivorous arthropods in agroecosystems.’
  • 3A miniature microphone, typically concealed in a room or telephone, used for surveillance.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other figures, including LBJ and Martin Luther King are observed vicariously through wire taps or electronic bugs.’
    • ‘New developments in the bizarre case of an FBI bug found in the office of the mayor of Philadelphia, John Street.’
    • ‘And it was then that agent had to install a bug with microphones inside the mayor's office.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘The courtroom was periodically swept for 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.’
    • ‘He only had the director's word for it that the room was clean of bugs.’
    • ‘However, at this week's hearing Detective Scott told the court that no conversations were recorded by the bug before its discovery.’
    • ‘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.’
    listening device, hidden microphone, receiver, transmitter, wire, wiretap, phone tap, tap
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  • 4An error in a computer program or system.

    • ‘Rock Solid - Users do not need to worry about spyware, bugs, or computer crashes.’
    • ‘But other bugs in large computer systems have led to failed space missions, airplane crashes and the death of hospital patients.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Well, applications are prone to all types of problems, bugs, and errors.’
    • ‘The former does it to update its rules, the latter to install new bugs on your system faster and more easily.’
    • ‘I'd find bugs and the program manager would tell me to close the report without addressing the issue.’
    • ‘Or perhaps you don't want to load web/email bugs which spammers tend to use in their mailings.’
    • ‘In 1999, a software bug knocked out a nationwide paging system for a day.’
    • ‘No matter how reliable the disk, bad blocks happen - errors in cache, firmware, hardware and bugs are all causes.’
    • ‘The game also plays host to a wide array of gameplay bugs and glitches.’
    • ‘Millions of records will appear on public web pages ‘through a bug in the system which has since been resolved’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most likely this is a software bug in Internet Explorer - I can honestly say that I do not recall ever experiencing this problem.’
    • ‘Your particular problem is (in all likelihood) related to a bug in the program.’
    • ‘Sometimes bugs can come and go, or networked programs may encounter bugs only when talking to specific servers or clients.’
    • ‘Worse, it is theoretically impossible to determine whether computer systems are free from programming bugs or nefarious code.’
    • ‘Without knowing these things, you probably have bugs running on your system, and never know it!’
    • ‘The main causes are bugs and implementation errors in particular virtual machines.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘He installed a firewall to protect against hackers, a virus protection program to stop online bugs.’
    fault, error, defect, flaw, imperfection, failing, breakdown
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  • 1Conceal a miniature microphone in (a room or telephone) in order to monitor or record someone's conversations.

    ‘the telephones in the presidential palace were bugged’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘During the playoffs in '82, Michaels claimed Raiders owner Al Davis had bugged the locker room at the Los Angeles Coliseum.’
    • ‘When another son raised suspicions, the police bugged Heather's telephone.’
    • ‘They enlisted the help of a wire-tapper to bug the star's telephone and bedroom.’
    • ‘The court heard that undercover officers had bugged his phone as they investigated a number of allegations which did not lead to criminal charges.’
    • ‘The telephone was bugged, and most of the rooms had mini microphones hidden under furniture and behind pictures.’
    • ‘His telephones were bugged and, sources say, warrants were obtained to insert listening devices in his home.’
    • ‘According to media reports, New Zealand intelligence services obtained concrete evidence that they were Mossad agents by bugging their phones.’
    • ‘She told the court that after the affair had finished she had become suspicious that her husband was bugging her telephone calls.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At first, I thought that a co-worker was bugging my telephone and my office.’
    • ‘He also alleged that Angolan authorities were bugging his phone.’
    • ‘The documents reveal that during this time he bugged the phone of a county councillor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In one case permission was granted to bug the mobile phone of a ‘known criminal’.’
    • ‘Do we grant domestic security agents the right to bug phones, buildings and the like?’
    • ‘MI5 telephone bugging operations alone monitor dozens of sensitive calls each day.’
    eavesdrop, spy
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    1. 1.1Record or monitor (a conversation) by concealing a microphone in a room or telephone.
      • ‘The security services also admit bugging a conversation between other defendants and lawyers at Belmarsh.’
      • ‘Short herself suspected her own conversations with him were bugged by spies, even while she was conducting them.’
      • ‘Whitehall is also said to be considering laws to allow transcripts of phone conversations bugged by MI5 to be used as evidence in court.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Again, the conversation was bugged; it gives a chilling insight into the mind of a hardened militant.’
      • ‘He is suspected of having reported the bugged conversations to his superiors on a regular basis.’
      • ‘Mr Pinheiro said last month after the generals humiliated him by bugging his privileged conversations that reconciliation talks in Burma are going nowhere.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A transcript of one bugged conversation played to the court revealed how the officer led the young man on.’
      • ‘According to one bugged conversation, the new recruits were mostly north Africans but also included middle-class Europeans.’
      • ‘He also said the allegations of bugging of conversations between solicitors and clients at Letterkenny Garda Station could be examined by the tribunal.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘Admit that something about your appearance bugs you, and ask someone you trust for advice on how to turn it into an asset.’
    • ‘‘Go back to your own class and stop bugging me,’ I say, annoyed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Okay, here is what really bugs me about this new show.’
    • ‘Little things that don't bug other people severely irritate me.’
    • ‘No one bugged me then, and I didn't want to bug these people, either.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It really bugs me that I can't remember the titles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Well, my problem is that he is really starting to bug me and he does these things that really annoy me.’
    • ‘He'll have a partner for the kiddie rides and will be less likely to bug your friends.’
    • ‘I know neither of them would hurt me, but it bugs me.’
    • ‘I have a couple of guys who do this, and it bugs me.’
    • ‘But that's not what really bugs me about this whole thing.’
    • ‘The guy's evident discomfort was starting to bug him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What bugs me is that we weren't told it was a gamble.’
    • ‘Stay calm, state exactly what he's doing to annoy you and say clearly that it's bugging you.’
    • ‘And don't worry about bugging me, it's nice to know that some people really enjoy what I write.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • bug off

    • Go away.

      • ‘It's not like they'll think less of you if you tell them to bug off.’
      • ‘Just go tell this Royal Messenger to bug off like you did the last one.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Why couldn't I just have told Van to bug off and that I'm not interested in getting to know him?’
      • ‘Of course, this was Michael I was dealing with, and there was no way I was going to persuade him to bug off.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘She takes from me and reads it: Thoughts can be private, too, so bug off.’
      • ‘I wanted to resolve things with Carter… but I wanted to tell him to bug off at the same time.’
      • ‘She politely told him to bug off and returned to the breakfast table to finish the comics.’
      • ‘‘Oh, bug off, Willis,’ said Jacob, coming to the rescue from behind the tills.’
      go away, depart, leave, take off, get out, get out of my sight
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  • 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.’
      • ‘But I simply do not see any option whatever for bugging out, hiving off and starting something else.’
      • ‘Once there, he claimed purple hearts for every scratch, and bugged out as quickly as humanly possible.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was only motherly intervention that convinced her 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
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    • 2Bulge outward.

      ‘he did a double take and his eyes bugged out’


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