bug-a-boo

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Possibly from a Celtic term such as Cornish buccaboo (devil). Alternatively, bug +‎ a +‎ boo.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (file)

Noun[edit]

bug-a-boo (plural bug-a-boos)

  1. A mythical, nocturnal creature; a hobgoblin.
    • 1776, William Kenrick, London review of English and foreign literature[1], page 316:
      The German ubu, as well as the French bibou, is also used for bug-a-boo, hobgoblin, or any other fantastical, terrific nocturnal object.
  2. Any imagined fear or threat, or a fear presumed larger than it really is.
    • 1949 - George R. Stewart Earth Abides, p. 80
      ...a fear had come upon them, and they had a kind of bug-a-boo terror about roving gangsters.
    • 2008, Gerald Stanley Lee, Crowds[2], ISBN 0554347180, 9780554347189, page 543:
      There is the Goody-good Bug-a-boo, the Consistency Bug-a-boo, and the Bug-a-boo that Thomas Jefferson if he were living now, would never never ride in a carriage.
      Each of these bug-a-boos in the general mistiness and muddleheadedness of the time can be seen going about, saying "Boo! Boo!" to this democracy ...

See also[edit]