What is the most common term for a substance that discourages insects from landing on you?

I tried Ngram and the results favored insect repellent. However, bug spray yields more results in a Google search. Another popular term is bug repellent.

Which term is most commonly used in casual AmE?


Insect repellent and bug spray are not the same thing in American English.

Insect repellent is what you use to keep bugs from biting you outdoors. Mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, whatever. You put it on your body.

Bug spray or insecticide are what you use to kill bugs indoors. Usually this means ants or cockroaches. You don't spray it on yourself.

  • 2
    In common parlance, bug spray covers both meanings. Context usually sorts things out. "Best bug spray for babies" is not really ambiguous, is it?
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 30 '20 at 4:27

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