Word of the Day: bear

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Word of the Day
February 11, 2016
bear (verb, noun) sound LISTEN icon
The columns bear the weight of the roof.

A bear is not only a large animal. As a verb, to bear means ‘to hold or carry something,’ or ‘to endure it.’ It also means ‘to give birth,’ or ‘to produce flowers or fruit.’ When you can’t bear something, it means that you really don’t like it. Bear also means ‘to go in a particular direction.’ Many of these meanings of bear are generally used in more formal contexts.

Example sentences

  • I saw a documentary about polar bears recently.
  • The pillars were not strong enough to bear the weight of the roof and the building collapsed.
  • All the guests arrived, bearing gifts for the bride and groom.
  • Alan has to bear the blame of not being able to keep his company from going bankrupt.
  • Mary bore three sons and two daughters.
  • We have an orange tree in our garden that bears fruit every year.
  • I can’t bear his arrogant attitude! I’ll leave before he gets here.
  • At the second junction, bear left and you’ll find it.
Words often used with bear
bear with me: a way to ask someone to be patient. Example: “Could you bear with me for a few minutes? I’m not quite ready to go.”
Multi-word forms

bear in mind (idiom): take something into account. Example: “Bearing in mind that we need to pay for repairs to the house, we can’t afford a holiday this year.”

bear down (phrasal verb, US): work harder. Example: “We have to finish this project by Friday and there’s still a lot to do. We need to bear down.”

Additional information
Don’t confuse bear with bare, which means that something is not covered. For example: “She wore a short skirt and her legs were bare.”
Did you know?
A bear is a big, strong and hairy man, especially in the expression “a bear of a man.” The term bear for this kind of man is particularly used in gay culture, with bears having been part of the gay community since the late 80s.
Bear dates back to before 900 and comes from the Middle English word beren and Old English word beran; it is similar to the Old Saxon and Old High German word beran, as well as the Dutch baren, Old Frisian and Old Norse bera, Gothic bairan, and German (ge)bären, among others.
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