Bare vs. bear

As an adjective, bare means lacking clothing, naked, exposed to view, or lacking adornment. As a verb, it means to make bare, to uncover, or to expose. Its past tense is bared.

Bear has no adjectival definition. When not referring to the large mammal, it is a verb with a variety of meanings, none of which relate to uncovering or exposing. A few of its meanings are to holdto supportto exhibitto carry oneself in a specified wayto endureto give birth to, and to yield (especially fruit). Its past tense is bore (e.g., it bore fruit), and its past participle is borne (e.g., it has borne fruit).

So bear is the correct spelling in the phrasal verbs bear downbear out, and bear up. It’s also the correct word in the phrases bear down onbear fruitbear in mind, and bring to bear and in the common phrases grin and bear it and bear the brunt ofBare wouldn’t make sense in any of these phrases or expressions.


Bearing in mind that the verb bare always means to uncover or expose, consider whether these sentences make sense:

One roof collapsed in Naugatuck and several were evacuated as the heavy snow proved to be too heavy to bare. [WTNH]

Many a gardener wish they had fruit trees old enough to bare fruit in their yard. []

Obviously, these writers mean bear instead of bare.

And here are a few positive examples of the words in action:

SAC will bear the brunt of any costs arising from the probe. [New York Post]

Blowing and drifting snow and cold temperatures continued to make it difficult for any of the snow removers to reach bare pavement. [Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette]

Bear in mind too that other employment indices have been strong. [The Business Insider]

Now, however, the 31-year-old television presenter has agreed to bare all in a confessional internet diary. [Telegraph]

The debate on the House floor came down to the right to bear arms versus the rights of private property owners. [Daily Herald]

28 thoughts on “Bare vs. bear”

  1. What about Wheel bearings or direction bearings? This implies the word “Hold.” Therefore it should be “bear in mind” right?

  2. King James Bible
    And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 8:8) … I am thinking that based on this tutorial on the word “bare vs. bear” that King James and those who translated Scriptures, as well as most every linguist and Bible scholar needed an English teacher looking over their shoulder… LOL

  3. Maybe these are bad examples because “Many a gardener wish they had fruit trees old enough to bare fruit in their yard.” makes perfect sense to me.

    The problem with the tree isn’t that the fruit is too heavy to hold up. The problem with the tree is that there isn’t any fruit visible.

  4. “Bares semblance to” vs. “bears semblance to.” Both make sense. 1) Makes semblance plain and naked, or 2) bears the burden of semblance.

  5. Bares semblance vs. bears semblance. They both make sense. The former exposes the resemblance, the later bears the load of resemblance. “Bares” makes more sense to me, “bears” is the commonly accepted phrase.

  6. “Brought to Bear” or “Brought to Bare”? From the above, it seems the right form is the former not the latter. But even with the definition, this term remains a bit ambiguous to me. Which is correct? Can anyone say so authoritatively?

  7. Which is correct in a poem I just read? “As I look back I see her there, the weight of our family is hers to bare or bear??


Leave a Comment