Loaded for bear

  • Like many idioms, the expression loaded for bear comes from a quite literal usage. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, chin up, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. 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)

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