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See also: Bear, beár, béar, and bèar


A bear


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bere, from Old English bera, from Proto-Germanic *berô (compare West Frisian bear, Dutch beer, German Bär, Danish bjørn).


bear (plural bears)

  1. A large omnivorous mammal, related to the dog and raccoon, having shaggy hair, a very small tail, and flat feet; a member of family Ursidae.
  2. (figuratively) A rough, unmannerly, uncouth person. [1579]
  3. (finance) An investor who sells commodities, securities, or futures in anticipation of a fall in prices. [1744]
    Antonym: bull
  4. (slang, US) A state policeman (short for smokey bear). [1970s]
    • 1976 June, CB Magazine, Communications Publication Corporation, Oklahoma City, June 40/3:
      ‘The bear's pulling somebody off there at 74,’ reported someone else.
  5. (slang) A large, hairy man, especially one who is homosexual. [1990]
    • 1990, "Bears, gay men subculture materials" (publication title, Human Sexuality Collection, Collection Level Periodical Record):
    • 2004, Richard Goldstein, Why I'm Not a Bear, in The Advocate, number 913, 27 April 2004, page 72:
      I have everything it takes to be a bear: broad shoulders, full beard, semibald pate, and lots of body hair. But I don't want to be a fetish.
    • 2006, Simon LeVay, Sharon McBride Valente, Human sexuality:
      There are numerous social organizations for bears in most parts of the United States. Lesbians don't have such prominent sexual subcultures as gay men, although, as just mentioned, some lesbians are into BDSM practices.
    Antonym: twink
  6. (engineering) A portable punching machine.
  7. (nautical) A block covered with coarse matting, used to scour the deck.
  8. (cartomancy) The fifteenth Lenormand card.
  9. (colloquial, US) Something difficult or tiresome; a burden or chore.
    That window can be a bear to open.
    • 2014, Joe Buda, Pilgrims' Passage: Into a New Millennium; Rebuilding the Past:
      “This was a real bear to refinish. You can't believe how hard it was right here to get a thousand years of crud out of this carving.”
Derived terms[edit]
  • Irish: béar

See bear/translations § Noun.


bear (third-person singular simple present bears, present participle bearing, simple past and past participle beared)

  1. (finance, transitive) To endeavour to depress the price of, or prices in.
    to bear a railroad stock
    to bear the market


bear (not comparable)

  1. (finance, investments) Characterized by declining prices in securities markets or by belief that the prices will fall.
    The great bear market starting in 1929 scared a whole generation of investors.

See also[edit]


  • Donald A. Ringe, From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic (2006), Linguistic history of English, vol. 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press →ISBN

Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English beren (carry, bring forth), from Old English beran (to carry, bear, bring), from Proto-Germanic *beraną, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰéreti, from *bʰer- (to bear, carry). Akin to Old High German beran (carry), Dutch baren, Norwegian Bokmål bære, Norwegian Nynorsk bera, German gebären, Gothic 𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌽 (bairan), Sanskrit भरति (bhárati), Latin ferre, and Ancient Greek φέρειν (phérein), Albanian bie (to bring, to bear), Russian брать (bratʹ, to take).


bear (third-person singular simple present bears, present participle bearing, simple past bore or (archaic) bare, past participle borne or (see usage notes) born)

  1. (transitive) To carry something.
    • 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
      I'll bear your logs the while.
    • 2005, Lesley Brown, translator, Plato, Sophist. 234b:
      […] imitations that bear the same name as the things […]
    • 1852, Mrs M.A. Thompson, “The Tutor's Daughter”, in Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, and Fashion[1], page 266:
      In the lightness of my heart I sang catches of songs as my horse gayly bore me along the well-remembered road.
    • 1954 March, Ray Bradbury, “All Summer in a Day”, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction[2], volume 6, number 3, page 122:
      They surged about her, caught her up and bore her.
    1. (transitive, of weapons, flags or symbols of rank, office, etc.) To carry upon one's person, especially visibly; to be equipped with.
      the right to bear arms
    2. (transitive, of garments, pieces of jewellery, etc.) To wear.
    3. (transitive) To display (a particular heraldic device) on a shield or coat of arms; to be entitled to wear or use (a heraldic device) as a coat of arms. [1400]
      The shield bore a red cross.
    4. (transitive, intransitive, of a woman or female animal) To carry offspring in the womb, to be pregnant.
    5. (intransitive, obsolete) To carry a burden or burdens. [1450]
    6. (transitive, obsolete, rare) To take or bring (a person) with oneself; to conduct. [1590]
    7. (transitive) To have or display (a visible mark or feature).
      • 1859, Charles Darwin, Origin of Species iv. 88:
        Male stag-beetles often bear wounds from the huge mandibles of other males.
    8. (transitive) To present or exhibit (a particular outward appearance); to have (a certain look). [1200]
      • 1930, Essex Chronicle 18 April 9/5:
        The body was unclothed, and bore the appearance of being washed up by the sea.
    9. (transitive) To have (a name, title, or designation). [1225]
      • 2013, D. Goldberg, Universe in Rearview Mirror iii. 99:
        Heinrich Olbers described the paradox that bears his name in 1823.
    10. (transitive) To possess or enjoy (recognition, renown, a reputation, etc.); to have (a particular price, value, or worth). [1393]
    11. (transitive, of an investment, loan, etc.) To have (interest or a specified rate of interest) stipulated in its terms. [1686]
    12. (transitive, of a person or animal) To have (an appendage, organ, etc.) as part of the body. Also of a part of the body: to have (an appendage).
    13. (transitive) To carry or hold in the mind; to experience, entertain, harbour (an idea, feeling, or emotion).
    14. (transitive, rare) To feel and show (respect, reverence, loyalty, etc.) to, towards, or unto a person or thing.
    15. (transitive) To possess inherently (a quality, attribute, power, or capacity); to have and display as an essential characteristic.
      to bear life
    16. (transitive, of a thing) To have (a relation, correspondence, etc.) to something else. [1556]
    17. (transitive, rare) To possess and use, to exercise (power or influence); to hold (an office, rank, or position).
      • Bible, Esther 1.22
        Every man should bear rule in his own house.
    18. (transitive) To give (written or oral testimony or evidence); (figurative) to provide or constitute (evidence or proof), give witness.
      The jury could see he was bearing false witness.
    19. (reflexive, transitive) To behave or conduct (oneself).
  2. To support, sustain, or endure.
    1. (transitive) To support or sustain; to hold up.
      This stone bears most of the weight.
    2. (transitive, intransitive) To put up with something, to tolerate.
      I would never move to Texas—I can't bear heat.
      Please bear with me as I try to find the book you need.
    3. (intransitive) To suffer (pain, hardship, or adversity) without being overcome or overwhelmed; to endure or resist something without giving in; to withstand; to cope with.
    4. (intransitive) To endure (a person, thing, situation, or circumstance) without opposition or resistance, quasi with patience; to be patient.
      • 1700, John Dryden, "Meleager and Atalanta", in: The poetical works, vol. 4, William Pickering, 1852, p. 169:
        I cannot, cannot bear; ’tis past , ’tis done; / Perish this impious , this detested son; []
    5. (transitive) To sustain, or be answerable for (blame, expense, responsibility, etc.).
      • Bible, Isaiah 53:11:
        He shall bear their iniquities.
      • 1753, John Dryden, The Spanish Friar: or, the Double Discovery, Tonson and Draper, p. 64:
        What have you gotten there under your arm, Daughter? somewhat, I hope, that will bear your Charges in your Pilgrimage.
    6. (intransitive, usually with on, upon, or against) To push, thrust, press.
      • (Can we date this quote by Addison and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
        These men bear hard on the suspected party.
    7. (transitive) To have a certain meaning, intent, or effect.
      • (Can we date this quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
        Her sentence bore that she should stand a certain time upon the platform.
  3. To support, keep up, or maintain.
    1. (transitive) To afford, to be something to someone, to supply with something.
    2. (transitive) To carry on, or maintain; to have.
      • 1693, John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, § 98:
        [] and he finds the Pleasure, and Credit of bearing a Part in the Conversation, and of having his Reasons sometimes approved and hearken'd to.
  4. To produce, yield, give birth to.
    1. (transitive) To give birth to someone or something (may take the father of the direct object as an indirect object).
      In Troy she becomes Paris’ wife, bearing him several children, all of whom die in infancy.
    2. (transitive, intransitive) To produce or yield something, such as fruit or crops.
      • (Can we date this quote by John Dryden and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
        Betwixt two seasons comes th' auspicious air, / This age to blossom, and the next to bear.
  5. To move or extend in a specified direction.
    1. (intransitive, originally nautical) To be, or head, in a specific direction or azimuth (from somewhere).
      Carry on past the church and then bear left at the junction.
      By my readings, we're bearing due south, so we should turn about ten degrees east.
      Great Falls bears north of Bozeman.
    2. (intransitive, military, usually with on or upon) Of a weapon, to be aimed at an enemy or other target.
      • 2012, Ronald D. Utt, Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron
        Constitution's gun crews crossed the deck to the already loaded larboard guns as Bainbridge wore the ship around on a larboard tack and recrossed his path in a rare double raking action to bring her guns to bear again on Java's damaged stern.
  6. (intransitive, figuratively) To take effect; to have influence or force; to be relevant.
    to bring arguments to bear
    How does this bear on the question?
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To gain or win.
    • (Can we date this quote by Francis Bacon and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Some think to bear it by speaking a great word.
    • (Can we date this quote?)
      She was [] found not guilty, through bearing of friends and bribing of the judge.
  8. (transitive) To admit or be capable of (a meaning); to suffer or sustain without violence, injury, or change.
    • (Can we date this quote?):
      In all criminal cases the most favourable interpretation should be put on words that they can possibly bear.
  9. (transitive) To warrant, justify the need for.
    This storm definitely bears monitoring.
Usage notes[edit]
  • The past participle of bear is usually borne:
    • He could not have borne that load.
    • She had borne five children.
    • This is not to be borne!
  • However, when bear means "to give birth to" (literally or figuratively), the passive past participle is born:
    • She was born on May 3.
    • Born three years earlier, he was the eldest of his siblings.
    • "The idea to create [the Blue Ridge Parkway] was born in the travail of the Great Depression [] ." (Tim Pegram, The Blue Ridge Parkway by Foot: A Park Ranger's Memoir, →ISBN, 2007, page 1)
  • Both spellings are used in the construction born(e) to someone (as a child):
    • He was born(e) to Mr. Smith.
    • She was born(e) to the most powerful family in the city.
    • "[M]y father was borne to a Swedish mother and a Norwegian father, both devout Lutherans." (David Ross, Good Morning Corfu: Living Abroad Against All Odds, →ISBN, 2009)
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 3[edit]


bear (uncountable)

  1. Alternative spelling of bere (barley).




bear m pl

  1. alternative genitive plural of bior (pointed rod or shaft; spit, spike; point)


Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
bear bhear mbear
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Further reading[edit]

West Frisian[edit]


From Old Frisian bera, from Proto-Germanic *berô.



bear c (plural bearen, diminutive bearke)

  1. bear
    Hoewol't de earste bearen net tige grut wiene, hawwe se harren meitiid wol ta grutte lichemsomfang ûntwikkele.Although the first bears were not very large, they have since developed the be much larger.

Further reading[edit]

  • bear (II)”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011