Also called true bug, hemipteran, hemipteron. a hemipterous insect.
(loosely) any insect or insectlike invertebrate.
Informal. any microorganism, especially a virus:
He was laid up for a week by an intestinal bug.
Informal. a defect or imperfection, as in a mechanical device, computer program, or plan; glitch:
The test flight discovered the bugs in the new plane.

a person who has a great enthusiasm for something; fan or hobbyist:
a hi-fi bug.
a craze or obsession:
He’s got the sports-car bug.


a hidden microphone or other electronic eavesdropping device.
any of various small mechanical or electrical gadgets, as one to influence a gambling device, give warning of an intruder, or indicate location.

a mark, as an asterisk, that indicates a particular item, level, etc.
Horse Racing. the five-pound weight allowance that can be claimed by an apprentice jockey.
a telegraph key that automatically transmits a series of dots when moved to one side and one dash when moved to the other.
Poker Slang. a joker that can be used only as an ace or as a wild card to fill a straight or a flush.
Printing. a label printed on certain matter to indicate that it was produced by a union shop.
any of various fishing plugs resembling an insect.
Chiefly British. a bedbug.
to install a secret listening device in (a room, building, etc.) or on (a telephone or other device):
The phone had been bugged.
to bother; annoy; pester:
She’s bugging him to get her into show business.
bug off, Slang. to leave or depart, especially rapidly:
I can’t help you, so bug off.
bug out, Slang. to flee in panic; show panic or alarm.
put a bug in someone’s ear, to give someone a subtle suggestion; hint:
We put a bug in his ear about a new gymnasium.
a bogy; hobgoblin.
Also called Western Bug. a river in E central Europe, rising in W Ukraine and forming part of the boundary between Poland and Ukraine, flowing NW to the Vistula River in Poland. 450 miles (725 km) long.
Also called Southern Bug. a river in SW Ukraine flowing SE to the Dnieper estuary. About 530 miles (850 km) long.
Contemporary Examples

Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Black & White’ Album Marlow Stern August 29, 2011
Facebook Chat Gets Hijacked Alex Leo February 16, 2011
Necrotizing Fasciitis: How ‘Flesh-Eating Bacteria’ Strike Casey Schwartz May 13, 2012
American Idol at a Crossroads Richard Rushfield January 10, 2010
Apple iPhone Location-Tracking Fixes Coming Dan Lyons April 26, 2011

Historical Examples

The Man Who Rocked the Earth Arthur Train
The Twins of Suffering Creek Ridgwell Cullum
Attrition Jim Wannamaker
The Forbidden Trail Honor Willsie
The Little Colonel’s Christmas Vacation Annie Fellows Johnston

any insect of the order Hemiptera, esp any of the suborder Heteroptera, having piercing and sucking mouthparts specialized as a beak (rostrum) See also assassin bug, bedbug, chinch bug
(mainly US & Canadian) any insect, such as the June bug or the Croton bug

a microorganism, esp a bacterium, that produces disease
a disease, esp a stomach infection, caused by a microorganism

(informal) an obsessive idea, hobby, etc; craze (esp in the phrases get the bug, be bitten by the bug, the bug bites, etc)
(informal) a person having such a craze; enthusiast
(often pl) (informal) an error or fault, as in a machine or system, esp in a computer or computer program
(informal) a concealed microphone used for recording conversations, as in spying
(US) (in poker) a joker used as an ace or wild card to complete a straight or flush
verb (informal) bugs, bugging, bugged
(transitive) to irritate; bother
(transitive) to conceal a microphone in (a room, etc)
(intransitive) (US) (of eyes) to protrude
(obsolete) an evil spirit or spectre; hobgoblin
a past tense and past participle of big2
Also called Southern Bug. a river in E Europe, rising in W Ukraine and flowing southeast to the Dnieper estuary and the Black Sea. Length: 853 km (530 miles)
Also called Western Bug. a river in E Europe, rising in SW Ukraine and flowing northwest to the River Vistula in Poland, forming part of the border between Poland and Ukraine. Length: 724 km (450 miles)

In the United States bug is not confined, as in England, to the domestic pest, but is applied to all insects of the Coleoptera order, which includes what in this country are generally called beetles. [Farmer & Henley, “Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English,” 1912 abridged edition]

Meaning “defect in a machine” (1889) may have been coined c.1878 by Thomas Edison (perhaps with the notion of an insect getting into the works). Meaning “person obsessed by an idea” (e.g. firebug) is from 1841, perhaps from notion of persistence. Sense of “microbe, germ” is from 1919. Bugs “crazy” is from c.1900. Bug juice as a slang name for drink is from 1869, originally “bad whiskey.” The 1811 slang dictionary has bug-hunter “an upholsterer.” Bug-word “word or words meant to irritate and vex” is from 1560s.


Our Living Language : The word bug is often used to refer to tiny creatures that crawl along, such as insects and even small animals that are not insects, such as spiders and millipedes. But for scientists the word has a much narrower meaning. In the strictest terms bugs are those insects that have mouthparts adapted for piercing and sucking. The mouthparts of these bugs are contained in a beak-shaped structure. Thus scientists would classify a louse but not a beetle or a cockroach as a bug. In fact, scientists often call lice and their relatives true bugs to distinguish them better from what everyone else calls “bugs.”

Note: The term originated in the 1940s when the examination of a large computer revealed that an actual insect had landed on one of the circuits, shorting it out and shutting the machine down.

Brother, Not uncommon as a nickname: Here comes big Bubba Jones (1860s+ Southern)
also a person of simple Southern rural culture; cracker, GOOD OLD BOY ?Occurrence increased enormously during the early years of the Clinton administration: People watching ”Jeopardy!” aren’t just bubbas out there/ He doesn’t have your typical ”Bubba” approach to state government (1980s+)

bug off
bug out


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