April 06, 2013
bugbear (noun)
\BUG-bair\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : an imaginary creature used to frighten children2 : something one is afraid of
How do you use it?
"He was expecting to be a sort of hero -- the creator of a wild panic -- and here everybody sat and smiled a mocking smile, and an old woman made fun of his bugbear." (Mark Twain, _A Tramp Abroad_)
Are you a word wiz?

The above sentence shows how author Mark Twain used the word "bugbear." Which one of these sentences do you think also uses "bugbear" correctly?

We hope you weren't scared off before you picked D. Although there are animals known as honey bears, there is no such creature in nature as a "bugbear," so A isn't right. Many children feel safe snuggling a soft toy like a teddy bear, so "bugbear" doesn't fit in sentence B. Sentence C is also out. First, it uses "bugbear" as an adjective, not a noun. Second, it describes brave individuals who do not easily give in to fear. That leaves sentence D -- and the imagined monster lurking in a harmless appliance -- as the right answer.
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