There are 2 main definitions of bear in English:

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bear 1

Pronunciation: /bɛː/

verb (past bore /bɔː/; past participle borne /bɔːn/)

[with object]
1(Of a person) carry: he was bearing a tray of brimming glasses the warriors bore lances tipped with iron
More example sentences
  • The shield maiden would bear the maiden warrior's shield in battle, hence the name.
  • The pain of the early hour is alleviated by a member of staff bearing a tray of tea - who will wait until you take the tray, in case the roaming baboons get their hands on your home-baked cookies.
  • The Selfridges car park was given a makeover for the occasion: vehicles were replaced by a catwalk, bright lights and waiters bearing trays of champagne.
1.1(Of a vehicle or boat) convey (passengers or cargo): steamboats bear the traveller out of Kerrerra Sound
More example sentences
  • There, we'd toss in stones to watch the splashes, fill our water pistols with the murky brown water, and float leaf boats bearing wormy passengers.
  • Lester spent a quiet night in the pen getting used to his new look and the next day was hoisted up on the back of a flatbed truck bearing a load of young women in white evening dresses, myself included.
  • It seemed that everyone doubted the market for liquor all the way out here, and that few ships came bearing a load such as ours.
1.2Have or display as a visible mark or feature: many of the papers bore his flamboyant signature
More example sentences
  • Paulino Gimenez was cleaning a painting that he believed was by a little known contemporary of Goya's when he uncovered hidden features bearing the unmistakable mark of the Spanish master.
  • Before being freed, she was fitted with a special leg ring bearing unique identification marks, which can be clearly seen through binoculars.
  • Outwardly healthy, the animal bore no visible wounds or signs of illness.
display, exhibit, show, present, set forth, be marked with, carry, have
1.3Be called by (a name or title): he bore the surname Tiller
More example sentences
  • There's an investment banking firm that bears his name.
  • The merchant bank thus created still bears his name - Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
  • In the literary world, Catriona actually only turns up in Stevenson's sequel to Kidnapped, which bears her name as its title.
1.4 (bear oneself) Carry or conduct oneself in a specified manner: she bore herself with dignity
More example sentences
  • Yet despite his fierce appearance and the barbarous glint in his eyes, the Chief bore himself with a dignity no less than regal - so much so that Ravenna found her own father paling in comparison.
  • Felicity Jones bears herself with dignity as a well-controlled Mariana.
  • Few were the demonic females he had meet with such a fine physical shell and yet able to bear themselves with such dignity and self-control.
2Support; carry the weight of: walls which cannot bear a stone vault
More example sentences
  • You can't possibly blow it up, the mesh is mutually supporting, every girder bears the weight of everything above it.
  • The sheer look in her eyes caused him to lose his balance, letting the wall bear all of his weight for him.
  • It supported nothing, but was stout enough to have once borne a considerable weight, and likely, he thought, to have been a roof beam.
2.1Take responsibility for: no one likes to bear the responsibility for such decisions the expert’s fee shall be borne by the tenant
More example sentences
  • I didn't want to bear the responsibility for this.
  • Somebody in the band needs to bear the responsibility for keeping time, and keeping everybody else in the same ballpark.
  • The bees are moral agents, he argues, and must bear the responsibility for their own actions.
sustain, carry, support, shoulder, uphold, absorb, take on
2.2Be able to accept or stand up to: it is doubtful whether either of these distinctions would bear scrutiny
More example sentences
  • Sadly, such a picture does not bear scrutiny, especially in the so-called top clubs, where discrimination on the grounds of age and sex is not only routine, but all too often is revelled in.
  • But to shackle the BBC in the pursuit of original journalism would be entirely wrong - so long as the editorial processes bear scrutiny.
  • The idea that the growing number of clubs standing on football's equivalent of death row are somehow the unfortunate victims of a natural disaster does not bear scrutiny.
withstand, stand up to, stand, put up with, take, cope with, handle, resist, sustain, absorb, accept
3Endure (an ordeal or difficulty): she bore the pain stoically
More example sentences
  • But, you see, it's the woman that bears the difficulties of the pregnancy.
  • Barbosa, the keeper who failed to save Brazil from Uruguay in the 1950 final, still bears his disgrace.
  • Those risk-takers who attempt this method bear the ignominy of the dreaded spot if they fail.
3.1 [with modal and negative] Manage to tolerate (a situation or experience): she could hardly bear his sarcasm [with infinitive]: I cannot bear to see you hurt
More example sentences
  • Unable to bear the situation any longer, Zhang Jianya turned to the court, alleging that Zhang Chun had criminally infringed upon his reputation.
  • We all feel that we can no longer bear the situation as it is.
  • It was pouring with rain, so the mouse's hair was all spiky and we picked it up in a glass and took it into the front garden but could hardly bear to put it down because it was so cute.
tolerate, stand, put up with, stomach, swallow, brook, undergo, accept, approve of, endorse, allow, admit, permit;
Scottish  thole
informal stick, hack, abide
British informal wear, be doing with
archaic suffer
3.2 (cannot bear someone/thing) Strongly dislike: I can’t bear caviar
More example sentences
  • Rather, women in contemporary India are also ‘subjected to the suppressed anger of the middle-class man’ who ‘needs his wife's salary to savour the goodies, yet cannot bear her independence.’
  • ‘If you cannot bear your name being mentioned in criticisms, then you'd better go home and be an ordinary citizen,’ she said.
  • As Dostoevsky once remarked, Russians cannot bear their own freedom; they seek someone before whom to bend their knee.
4Give birth to (a child): she bore sixteen daughters [with two objects]: his wife had borne him a son
More example sentences
  • I myself had never had sisters or brothers - my mother had lost the ability to bear children at my birth.
  • In 1851 he married Fanny Lucy Wightman, who was to bear six children, three of whom predeceased him.
  • Herschel will leave nothing behind him because his late wife refused to bear children.
give birth to, bring forth, deliver, be delivered of, have, mother, create, produce, spawn;
breed, procreate, reproduce;
North American  birth
informal drop
literary beget
archaic engender, be brought to bed of
4.1(Of a tree or plant) produce (fruit or flowers): a squash that bears fruit shaped like cucumbers
More example sentences
  • But, the birds can be brought back, if the authorities take up the planting of suitable varieties of plants, trees bearing berries and fruit.
  • Plants can bear flowers and fruits at the same time, and die after fruiting.
  • Even the most crooked apple tree can eventually bear good fruit.
5 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Turn and proceed in a specified direction: bear left and follow the old drove road
More example sentences
  • The path bears right again to curve round under the summit.
  • Nature should have told him that when he heads south from Alaska during his herd's annual autumn migration to warmer water, he has to bear right at San Francisco.
  • The wide forest trail begins to bear west and continues Westerly to the 5K mark which is 100m before the minor trail junction (which leads to the summit road).
veer, curve, swerve, incline, turn, fork, diverge, deviate, bend;
go, move;
Sailing  tack, sheer


Until the 18th century borne and born were simply variant forms of the past participle of bear, used interchangeably with no distinction in meaning. By around 1775, however, the present distinction in use had become established. At that time borne became the standard past participle used in all the senses listed in this dictionary entry, e.g. she has borne you another son, the findings have been borne out, and so on. Born became restricted to just one very common use, which remains the case today: in the passive, without by, as the standard, neutral way to refer to birth: she was born in 1965, he was born lucky, or I was born and bred in Gloucester.



bear the brunt of

see brunt.

bear the burden of

Suffer the consequences of: taxpayers bear the burden of government’s mistakes
More example sentences
  • If so, why do taxpayers need to substantially bear the burden of liability in case of accidents?
  • The software architecture bears the burden of explicitly monitoring safety-critical data to ensure that the data has not been corrupted.
  • It is not only mothers who suffer when they fail to rise to the challenge of working what amounts to a double shift, since it is they who must bear the double burden of working and raising a family.

bear fruit

Yield positive results: plans for power-sharing may be about to bear fruit
More example sentences
  • His experience of Japan in 1937-38 and his own exhibition on Tokyo bore fruit in his Mussoorie productions.
  • His steady and competent effort bore fruit beyond estimate and stand today in near and distant places as generous monuments to his skill.
  • Despite their doubts in his project, his strong sense of faith bore fruit and now, 30 years on, his son continues the work and people from far and near visit his orchard
yield results, get results, succeed, meet with success, be successful, be effective, be profitable, work, go as planned
informal pay off, come off, pan out, do the trick, do the business

bear a hand

archaic Help in a task or enterprise.
Example sentences
  • Although it is not experienced in every part of the world, it also bears a hand in the battle for food.
  • When danger threatened there was resort to prayer, but work soon followed as the passengers bore a hand with the crew.
  • With us the demands of ship work on our bare minimum crews do not allow of a duty signaller; he must bear a hand with the rest to straighten out the day's work.

bear something in mind

see mind.
Example sentences
  • As long as one bears in mind that the trade mark represents both source and responsibility for quality no harm is done.
  • The first half was a sedate affair bearing in mind what was to follow as Bowling made all the early running.
  • This is a truly frightening sum - even more so when one bears in mind that it does not include local government staff, whose pensions are funded through council tax.
take into account, be mindful, remember, consider, mind, mark, heed, take into consideration, not forget;
respect, pay/have regard to, make allowances for, be guided by

bear someone malice (or ill will)

[with negative] Wish someone harm: he was only doing his job and I bore him no malice
More example sentences
  • If one therefore bore ill will towards someone then it follows that we would wish to injure them, and our intention towards them would be destructive or evil.
  • Geser tells a tale about the Virgin of Byzantium to whom somebody bore ill will and put a spell.
  • But I don't know one veteran in my chapter who bears ill will against the Vietnamese people.

bear a relation (or relationship) to

[with negative] Be logically consistent with: the map didn’t seem to bear any relation to the roads
More example sentences
  • In fact, very little of what happens in Dreamer bears a relationship to something that happened in real life, so the ‘true story’ part of the equation is a red herring.
  • All lost weight, but the amount of weight lost bore no relation to whether participants were on a diet or not.
  • At various points in his book, he declares himself incensed by the presumption that the Iris by his side is not Iris, but a generic Alzheimer's sufferer who bears no real relation to that entity.

bear a resemblance (or similarity) to

Resemble: the campus bore a faint resemblance to a military camp
More example sentences
  • What you need is a disguise that bears a resemblance to, say, Alan Dershowitz - an attorney who prefers rich, famous clients and seems to spend more time in broadcast studios than courtrooms.
  • Main's method of meditation bears a similarity to, but has some differences from, centering prayer as practiced and taught by Keating.
  • The bolt shroud is Mauser-like but with a three position horizontal safety, which bears a resemblance to that of the Winchester M70.

bear witness (or testimony) to

Testify to: little is left to bear witness to the past greatness of the city
More example sentences
  • The monument bears witness to 54 women who have gone missing from downtown Vancouver streets - some 15 miles from the farm - in the last two decades.
  • And I'd also add that the experience of Matt Cooper, who I represent, sort of bears witness to what can happen.
  • I think the California energy crisis a few years back bears testimony to that.
testify to, be evidence/proof of, attest to, confirm, evidence, prove, vouch for;
9.1State or show one’s belief in: people bearing witness to Jesus
More example sentences
  • Faith demands a commitment to bear witness to belief in a real and practical way.
  • And his recent works, exhibited at the newly-opened Kashi Art Gallery in Bazar Road of Mattancherry, also bear testimony to his beliefs.
  • Today's women are bombarded by images of ever-shrinking stars who seem to bear testimony to the belief that to be thin is to be happy and successful.

be borne in on (or upon)

Come to be realized by: the folly of her action was borne in on her
More example sentences
  • The truth has been borne in upon them through their own brave stand that there can be no normal sport in an abnormal society.
  • The truth of that observation will, I think, be borne in on anyone who has watched the BBC tape, as I have.
  • As I listened it began to be borne in on me that he was talking complete nonsense, and that I had better have a bit of a think about it.

not bear thinking about

Be too terrible to contemplate: what had happened to her before dying did not bear thinking about
More example sentences
  • The distress suffered by the residents - elderly residents of that home - doesn't bear thinking about.
  • The fact we could have been in there doesn't bear thinking about.
  • I think it is a horrible, awful road; yesterday's crash just doesn't bear thinking about.

Phrasal verbs


bear away

another way of saying bear off.

bear down

(Of a woman in labour) exert downwards pressure in order to push the baby out.
Example sentences
  • She could feel the pressure bearing down; she so desperately wanted to push but prior experience told her not to.
  • The uncontrollable urge to push took over and I bore down hard.
  • ‘Some women actually worsen incontinence problems by bearing down rather than pulling the muscle up and in,’ she says.

bear down on

Move directly towards someone or something in a purposeful or intimidating manner: at a canter they bore down on the mass of men ahead
More example sentences
  • He felt Mrs Yin had first braked unnecessarily in front of him and when he tried to overtake she accelerated, forcing him to drop back because the car coming in the opposite direction was bearing down on him.
  • It's richly mounted, solidly acted, tautly directed - and bears down on you with a vengeance, just like that red-eyed hound from hell.
  • Villa's offside trap had initially broken down to allow Henry to bear down on the Villa goal and after he cut back inside Ronnie Johnsen, he clipped his shot against the inside of the post.
advance on, close in on, move in on, converge on, approach, come/move closer/close to, draw near/nearer to, press on towards;
attack, set upon, fall upon, assail, set about, let fly at, tear into
3.1Take strict measures to deal with: a commitment to bear down on inflation
More example sentences
  • This support was not just for the benefits that membership would bring in bearing down on inflation, but also for the fiscal discipline and wider advantages it would bring, particularly for business.
  • The purpose of the operation is to bear down on what we believe to be concentrations of insurgents and their equipment.
  • This scheme appears to contradict the commitment to bear down on night noise.

bear off

Sailing Change course away from the wind.
Example sentences
  • Then bear off slightly, steering away from the wind (tiller away from the sails) until the sail just stops luffing.
  • Of course, once you catch a wave be sure to bear off and use it to sail down to the mark and increase your VMG.
  • Suddenly she leapt into overdrive as I bore off 20 or so degrees to allow for the extra sail area and increase in apparent wind.

bear on

Be relevant to (something): two kinds of theories which bear on literary studies
More example sentences
  • Hendrickson skillfully incorporates relevant readings that bear on whether or not WPR requirements were met.
  • This study has absolutely no bearing on the relative therapeutic potency of butterbur and cetirizine in hay fever.
  • A direct consequence of this theory of embryological origin bears on the question of species transformism.
be relevant to, appertain to, pertain to, relate to, have a bearing on, have relevance to, apply to, be pertinent to, have reference to, concern, be concerned with, have to do with, be connected with
[with adverbial]5.1 Be a burden on: the extension of VAT to domestic fuel will bear hard on the low-paid
More example sentences
  • These last are the levies which bear most heavily on the poor, who pay no income tax.
  • In fruits and vegetables, the stimulation of ethylene production by cuts or bruises may be very large and bear considerably on storage effectiveness.
  • Immigrant children and youth are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, and so their prospects bear heavily on the well-being of the country.

bear something out

Support or confirm something: this assumption is not borne out by any evidence
More example sentences
  • I know that the Minister will bear these figures out and support me in this, because the growth in vehicle traffic grows greater than inflation every year.
  • Lai notes that the mathematical treatment was as realistic as possible, using the full so-called Navier-Stokes fluid mechanics equation, but he hopes that experimental confirmation will bear the scheme out.
  • Election problems in various states such as Ohio, Virginia, Texas, California, and Florida bear them out, justifying a growing unease with electronic voting.

bear up

Remain cheerful in the face of adversity: she’s bearing up remarkably well
More example sentences
  • It's a learning experience for sure, something you have to bear up for and get through.
  • In my mind, dignity comes from bearing up under suffering we meet throughout our lives rather than letting it destroy us, and from facing fears rather than caving in to them.
  • Through it all, Ho has been bearing up as well as he can.
cope, persevere, manage, endure;
muddle through/along, get through, get on, carry on, get along, deal with the situation;
grin and bear it, weather the storm
informal make out, get by, hack it

bear with

Be patient or tolerant with: bear with me a moment while I make a phone call
More example sentences
  • At least till then, the Usilampatti hospital patients may have to bear with the bread.
  • Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.
  • He begins to suffer from confusion, which he bears with great patience and the most moving anxiety.
be patient with, show forbearance towards, make allowances for, tolerate, put up with, endure, suffer


Old English beran, of Germanic origin; from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit bharati, Greek pherein, and Latin ferre.

  • The verb bear comes from Indo-European. Related forms are found in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, as well as in Latin and Greek. The core meaning is ‘to carry’. In English it is related to bier (Old English), the frame carrying a coffin or corpse. From early times bear has also been used of mental burdens, of suffering, or toleration. Wise people have encouraged us to bear and forbear, ‘be patient and endure’, since the 16th century, and from the mid 19th century others have told us more briskly to grin and bear it.

    Bear, the large animal, is a different Old English word that also goes back to ancient times. In Stock Exchange terminology a bear is a person who sells shares hoping to buy them back later at a lower price (the opposite of a bull). The use is said to be from a proverb warning against ‘selling the bear's skin before one has caught the bear’.

Words that rhyme with bear

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

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There are 2 main definitions of bear in English:

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bear 2

Pronunciation: /bɛː/


1A large, heavy mammal which walks on the soles of its feet, having thick fur and a very short tail. Bears are related to the dog family but have an omnivorous diet.
  • Family Ursidae: several genera and species.
Example sentences
  • Recent DNA analysis indicates that giant pandas are more closely related to bears and red pandas are more closely related to raccoons.
  • The five national and sixty six provincial parks contain a healthy population of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, bears, wolves, bison and woodland caribou.
  • Polar bears are closely related to bears like the grizzly, but are considered marine mammals since they have adopted a marine lifestyle.
1.1A teddy bear.
Example sentences
  • So, you could say I am having the best of my childhood now, buying bears, jigsaw puzzles, paper dolls and what have you.
  • It has raised more than £1m through the sale of toy bears.
  • Howard handed Schwarzenegger a pair of RM Williams boots, while the governor gave the Australian leader a toy bear.
1.2 informal A rough, bad-mannered, or uncouth person: if I make a mistake he goes mad with rage—he’s a bear
More example sentences
  • ‘I go out with my mates a lot,’ she says when I suggest she might just be a little bit of a square bear.
  • He can't come across as the bad news bear, lest people decide they don't want to listen to doomsday prophesies for the next four years.
  • This time Mrs. Blade calls in and she is a bear in the morning.
1.3A large, heavy, cumbersome man: a lumbering bear of a man
More example sentences
  • It's not fun, it does hurt, abominably, and I do feel like a lumbering bear, huffing and puffing like Pooh on a bad day.
  • Did you ever hear someone describe a big, lumbering, warm-hearted bear of a guy?
  • When you spend a good time alone, like a week, without hardly saying a word to anyone, with hardly any phone calls, you tend to retreat into lumbering bear mode.
1.4 (the Bear) informal A nickname for Russia.
2 Stock Market A person who sells shares hoping to buy them back later at a lower price. Often contrasted with bull1.
Said to be from a proverb warning against ‘selling the bear's skin before one has caught the bear’
Example sentences
  • The same also holds true if bears push prices down but cannot achieve a close near the low, in which case a buy signal is issued.
  • But the bears priced at the bottom level will not be vintage, and certainly will not be by any of these makers.
  • If prices fall to a new low but bear power shows a higher bottom, prices are falling and bears become weaker.



like a bear with a sore head

British informal (Of a person) very irritable: he’ll be like a bear with a sore head when he gets up
More example sentences
  • And then Dave's hayfever kicks in again, sending him to bed like a bear with a sore head.
  • Like most ‘rugby widows’ she has become accustomed to the endless training nights, Sundays at home with the kids - and me parading round the house before games like a bear with a sore head (so that's why she's been calling me Victor Meldrew).
  • He's like a bear with a sore head when he's been on the beers.

loaded for bear

North American informal Fully prepared for any eventuality, especially a confrontation or challenge: as my ancestors were wont to say, watch out, John Bull, I’m loaded for bear!
More example sentences
  • Now, additionally armed with the Sony DSC-T1 pocket camera, I'm 5 megapixels across the board and loaded for bear.
  • We're in the midst of a major exercise and the B52's are all prepped and ready to go; loaded for bear and ready to crush an imaginary foe.
  • Sure, several nations are now loaded for bear, but they all insist that they would never be the first to touch off a nuclear conflict.


Old English bera, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch beer and German Bär.

  • The verb bear comes from Indo-European. Related forms are found in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, as well as in Latin and Greek. The core meaning is ‘to carry’. In English it is related to bier (Old English), the frame carrying a coffin or corpse. From early times bear has also been used of mental burdens, of suffering, or toleration. Wise people have encouraged us to bear and forbear, ‘be patient and endure’, since the 16th century, and from the mid 19th century others have told us more briskly to grin and bear it.

    Bear, the large animal, is a different Old English word that also goes back to ancient times. In Stock Exchange terminology a bear is a person who sells shares hoping to buy them back later at a lower price (the opposite of a bull). The use is said to be from a proverb warning against ‘selling the bear's skin before one has caught the bear’.

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