Meaning of BUG in English


I. bug 1 S3 /bʌɡ/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1600-1700 ; Origin: Perhaps from bug 'evil spirit, scarecrow' (14-18 centuries) ]

1 . informal an illness that people catch very easily from each other but is not very serious

catch/pick up/get a bug

I picked up a bug last weekend.

There’s a nasty bug going round (=that a lot of people have caught) .

tummy/stomach bug (=illness affecting your stomach)

He’s off work with a stomach bug.

a 24-hour flu bug

2 . especially American English a small insect

3 . a fault in the system of instructions that operates a computer:

a bug in the software

⇨ ↑ debug

4 . a small piece of electronic equipment for listening secretly to other people’s conversations

5 . informal a sudden strong interest in doing something

the travel/sailing etc bug

She’s got the travel bug.

I had one flying lesson and immediately caught the bug (=became very interested in flying) .

• • •



▪ a nasty/horrible bug

It was a really nasty bug.

▪ a stomach bug ( also a tummy bug more informal )

He’s off school with a stomach bug.

▪ a flu bug

We’ve all had a horrible flu bug.

▪ a 24-hour/2-day etc bug

The doctor says it’s just a 24-hour bug.

■ verbs

▪ have a bug

Two of us had a nasty bug on holiday.

▪ catch/get a bug

Six out of ten travellers get a stomach bug abroad.

▪ pick up a bug (=catch one)

He seems to pick up every bug going.

▪ a bug is going around (=a lot of people have it)

A lot of staff are off because there’s a bug going round.

II. bug 2 BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle bugged , present participle bugging ) [transitive]

1 . informal to annoy someone:

It just bugs me that I have to work so many extra hours for no extra money.

The baby’s crying is really bugging him.

2 . to put a ↑ bug (=small piece of electronic equipment) somewhere secretly in order to listen to conversations:

Do you think the room is bugged?

• • •


▪ listen to pay attention to what someone is saying or to a sound that you hear:

I didn’t hear the answer, because I wasn’t listening when she read it out.


He listened carefully to every word I said.

▪ pay attention to listen carefully to what someone is saying:

I nodded to show I was paying attention.


She was tired and wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying.

▪ eavesdrop to secretly listen to someone else’s conversation by standing near them, hiding behind a door etc:

I caught him eavesdropping on our conversation.


They spoke in quiet voices which made it hard to eavesdrop.

▪ overhear to hear someone say something, especially accidentally:

I overheard him say something about wanting to move house.


Excuse me! I couldn’t help overhearing that you were planning a trip to Thailand.

▪ tune in (to something) to listen to a radio programme, or to someone using a radio ↑ transmitter :

Over a million people tune in to the programme each week.


Tune in at the same time next week for the next episode.


The equipment could be used by criminals to tune in to police broadcasts.

▪ tap to connect a piece of electronic recording equipment to a telephone system so that you can listen to people’s telephone conversations:

The police had tapped the phones of all three suspects.


The President had to resign over an illegal phone-tapping operation.

▪ bug to hide a small piece of electronic recording equipment in someone’s room, car, office etc in order to listen secretly to what is said there:

Security agents bugged their offices and managed to get some evidence against them.


Wells was convinced the house was bugged and insisted on playing loud music while we talked.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.