Date: 1600-1700
Origin: Perhaps from Irish Gaelic bodhar 'deaf, bothered'


1 verb
both‧er1 S1 W3

make an effort

[intransitive,transitive usually in questions and negatives] to make the effort to do something
(not) bother to do something
He didn't bother to answer the question.
not bother about/with
He didn't bother with a reply.
(not) bother doing something
Many young people didn't bother voting.
don't/didn't/won't etc bother
'Do you want me to wait for you?' 'No, don't bother.'
Why bother to go abroad, when there are so many nice places here?


[intransitive and transitive] to make someone feel slightly worried, upset, or concerned:
Being in a crowd really bothers me.
It was very noisy, but that didn't bother me.
bother about especially British English
I try not to bother about what other people think.
bother somebody that
It really bothered me that he'd forgotten my birthday.


[intransitive and transitive] to annoy someone, especially by interrupting them when they are trying to do something:
Danny, don't bother Ellen while she's reading.
Would it bother you if I put on some music?

somebody can't/couldn't be bothered (to do something)

especially British English used to say that you do not want to make the effort to do something, or that you are not interested in doing something:
It was so hot I couldn't be bothered to cook.
I should be revising, but I just can't be bothered.

cause pain

[transitive] if a part of your body bothers you, it is slightly painful or uncomfortable:
My back's been bothering me.

sorry to bother you

spoken used as a very polite way of interrupting someone when you want their attention:
Sorry to bother you, but Mr. Grey is on the line.


[transitive] to upset or frighten someone by talking to them when they do not want to talk to you, trying to hurt them, touch them sexually etc:
Don't worry, my dog won't bother you.
If he starts bothering you, let me know.

not bother yourself/not bother your head

to not spend time or effort on something, either because it is not important or because it is too difficult
not bother yourself/not bother your head with/about
Cliff didn't want to bother himself with details.

bother it/them etc

British English spoken old-fashioned used to express a sudden feeling of annoyance about something:
Oh bother it! The thread's broken again!

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