Meaning of “bug” in the English Dictionary

"bug" in British English

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uk /bʌɡ/ us /bʌɡ/

bug noun (INSECT)

B1 [ C ] a very small insect


  • Hang on - there's a bug in your hair - let me get it out for you.
  • Will this spray get rid of those little black bugs that are attacking my shrubs?
  • We lifted the stone to see if there were any bugs or worms underneath.
  • There was a bug was crawling across the carpet, and the cat ate it!
  • He used to collect beetles and bugs from the garden and study them under the microscope.

bug noun (ILLNESS)

B2 [ C ] informal a bacteria or a virus causing an illness that is usually not serious:

I had a tummy/stomach bug last week.
There's a bug going around (= an illness that many people are getting).

More examples

  • Kids get all kinds of bugs at school.
  • A nasty flu bug's going round the school at the moment.
  • We never found out what was wrong with her - it was just some kind of mystery bug.
  • Don't cough on me - I don't want to catch your bugs, thanks!
  • He had a strange bug that caused chest pains and general tiredness.


B2 [ C ] a mistake or problem in a computer program:

A bug caused the company's computer system to crash.

More examples

  • If you get a bug in your system, please report it as soon as possible so it can be fixed.
  • This program keeps crashing - there must be bug somewhere.
  • The software producers are currently trying to fix two significant bugs.
  • This game keeps freezing - am I doing something wrong or do you think it's a bug of some sort?
  • They've produced a downloadable patch that will repair the bug in the program.

bugverb [ T ]

uk /bʌɡ/ us /bʌɡ/ -gg-

(Definition of “bug” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"bug" in American English

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us /bʌɡ/

bug noun (INSECT)

[ C ] an insect:

Some tiny white bugs had eaten the leaves of my house plants.

[ C ] A bug is also a small organism that causes an illness:

The flu bug is going around, and almost everyone is sick.

bug noun (FAULT)

[ C ] a mistake or problem in the way something works:

He said they had eliminated all the bugs in the software, and we hoped this was true.

bug noun (DEVICE)

[ C ] a small device that is easily hidden, used to record people’s conversations without their knowledge

bug noun (ENTHUSIASM)

[ U ] infml a strong enthusiasm for something:

When I was about 17, I was bitten by the acting bug and began to try out for parts.

bugverb [ T ]

us /bʌɡ/ -gg-

bug verb [ T ] (ANNOY)

infml to annoy someone repeatedly:

My lawyer is bugging me for stuff I just don’t have.

bug verb [ T ] (HIDE DEVICE)

to hide a listening device in something:

She suspected that her phone had been bugged.

(Definition of “bug” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"bug" in Business English

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bugnoun [ C ]

uk /bʌɡ/ us IT

a mistake or problem in a computer program:

The latest update fixes several known bugs in the script.
Please submit all bug reports to the IT department.

(Definition of “bug” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)