Loaded for bear

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Like many idioms, the expression loaded for bear comes from a quite literal usage. We will examine the meaning of the idiom loaded for bear, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Loaded for bear means that someone is ready for anything, someone is prepared to answer any argument, someone is prepared to fight and win, someone is prepared to surmount any problem successfully. The idiom loaded for bear originated in North America in the 1800s. The phrase was originally used literally, to mean to load one’s firearm with enough power to kill a bear. The implication is that the person is equipped to kill anything that comes his way, because the bear is the largest predator on the North American continent. Though people seldom hunt for bear anymore, the popularity of the idiom loaded for bear had continued to grow.


On paper, Lock is loaded for bear on this hunt and it hasn’t escaped the attention of The Herd’s enigmatic radio host Colin Cowherd. (Sports Illustrated)

The holidays are over, and you’re loaded for bear with your new rituals … resolutions being so 1990s. (Barron’s)

Animal advocates are loaded for bear to shut down a strange animal enclosure inside a New Jersey mall. (The New York Post)

People in the military must carry all their gear loaded for bear for many miles, often over rugged terrain, moving as fast as possible. (The Oswego Daily News)