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Borrowed from Scots bauther, bather (to bother). Origin unknown. Perhaps related to Scots pother (to make a stir or commotion, bustle), also of unknown origin. Compare English pother (to poke, prod), variant of potter (to poke). More at potter. Perhaps related to Irish bodhaire (noise), Irish bodhraim (to deafen, annoy).[1]



bother (third-person singular simple present bothers, present participle bothering, simple past and past participle bothered)

  1. (transitive) To annoy, to disturb, to irritate; to be troublesome to, to make trouble for.
    Synonyms: annoy, disturb, inconvenience, irritate, put out, vex; see also Thesaurus:annoy
    Would it bother you if I smoked?
  2. (intransitive or reflexive) To feel care or concern; to burden or inconvenience oneself out of concern.
    Synonyms: care, mind; see also Thesaurus:care
    I never bother about such trivialities.
    I wouldn't bother with an umbrella if I were you.
    • 1876 July, Henry James, Jr., chapter V, in The American, Boston, Mass.: James R[ipley] Osgood and Company, [], published 5 May 1877, →OCLC, page 87:
      To expand, without bothering about it—without shiftless timidity on one side, or loquacious eagerness on the other—to the full compass of what he would have called a "pleasant" experience, was Newman's most definite programme of life.
  3. (intransitive, catenative) To take the trouble, to trouble oneself (to do something).
    Synonyms: go to the trouble, take the trouble
    Why do I even bother to try?
    1. To do something which is of negligible inconvenience.
      You didn’t even bother to close the door.

Usage notes[edit]


  • Irish: badráil
  • Jersey Dutch: boddere



bother (countable and uncountable, plural bothers)

  1. Fuss, ado.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:commotion
    There was a bit of bother at the hairdresser's when they couldn't find my appointment in the book.
    • 2015 January 18, Monty Munford, “What’s the point of carrying a mobile phone nowadays?”, in The Daily Telegraph[1]:
      It was a 15-minute return trip to walk back home to pick up my device, but I weighed it up and decided that it wasn’t worth the bother.
  2. Trouble, inconvenience.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nuisance
    Yes, I can do that for you - it's no bother.




  1. A mild expression of annoyance.
    • 1908, Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, London: Wordsworth Classics, published 1993, page 11:
      [H]e suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said "Bother!" and "Oh blow!" and also "Hang spring-cleaning!" and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.
    • 1926, A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh, Methuen & Co., Ltd., Chapter 2 which Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place:
      "Oh, help!" said Pooh. "I'd better go back."
      "Oh, bother!" said Pooh. "I shall have to go on."
      "I can't do either!" said Pooh. "Oh, help and bother!"



Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Concise Oxford English Dictionary 2011