The word bother has many shades of meaning, but most of them involve trouble of some sort. You might wonder why you should bother to follow a recipe, until you taste what you've made without one.

As a verb, bother can mean that you take the trouble to do something. It’s often presented as a negative: you might not bother to lock the house, or you may wonder why you should bother reading the instructions that came with your phone. Bother can also mean that you’re bugging someone or causing a minor inconvenience. The word can also have a sense of deeper worry, especially when something is bothering you, like a nagging sense of guilt.

Definitions of bother

v cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations

“Mosquitoes buzzing in my ear really bothers me”
annoy, chafe, devil, get at, get to, gravel, irritate, nark, nettle, rag, rile, vex
feel extreme irritation or anger
show 10 types...
hide 10 types...
get, get under one's skin
eat into, fester, fret, grate, rankle
gnaw into; make resentful or angry
cause to be annoyed, irritated, or resentful
trouble or vex
cause annoyance in
beset, chevvy, chevy, chivvy, chivy, harass, harry, hassle, molest, plague, provoke
annoy continually or chronically
antagonise, antagonize
provoke the hostility of
goad, needle
goad or provoke, as by constant criticism
bedevil, crucify, dun, frustrate, rag, torment
treat cruelly
harass by imposing humiliating or painful tasks, as in military institutions
Type of:
give displeasure to

v to cause inconvenience or discomfort to

discommode, disoblige, incommode, inconvenience, put out, trouble
distress, straiten
bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship
Type of:
affect, bear on, bear upon, impact, touch, touch on
have an effect upon

v intrude or enter uninvited

“Don't bother the professor while she is grading term papers”
Type of:
intrude, irrupt
enter uninvited

v make confused or perplexed or puzzled

Type of:
confuse, disconcert, flurry, put off
cause to feel embarrassment

v make nervous or agitated

“The mere thought of her bothered him and made his heart beat faster”
Type of:
agitate, charge, charge up, commove, excite, rouse, turn on
cause to be agitated, excited, or roused

v take the trouble to do something; concern oneself

“Don't bother, please”
inconvenience oneself, trouble, trouble oneself
Type of:
reach, strain, strive
to exert much effort or energy

n something or someone that causes trouble; a source of unhappiness

“a bit of a bother
annoyance, botheration, infliction, pain, pain in the ass, pain in the neck
show 8 types...
hide 8 types...
(law) a broad legal concept including anything that disturbs the reasonable use of your property or endangers life and health or is offensive
irritant, thorn
something that causes irritation and annoyance
an annoyance
abatable nuisance
a nuisance that can remedied (suppressed or extinguished or rendered harmless)
attractive nuisance
anything on your premises that might attract children into danger or harm
mixed nuisance
a nuisance that is both a public nuisance and a private nuisance at the same time
private nuisance
a nuisance that interferes with your interest in and private use and enjoyment of your land
common nuisance, public nuisance
a nuisance that unreasonably interferes with a right that is common to the general public
Type of:
negative stimulus
a stimulus with undesirable consequences

n an angry disturbance

“a spot of bother
fuss, hassle, trouble
Type of:
disturbance, perturbation
activity that is a malfunction, intrusion, or interruption

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.