bear down

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bear down (third-person singular simple present bears down, present participle bearing down, simple past bore down, past participle borne down)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see bear,‎ down.
  2. (nautical) To steer away from the wind; to approach from windward.
  3. (transitive) To push (someone) to the ground; to defeat, overcome. [from 14th c.]
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To maintain one's position against (someone) in a debate; to stand one's ground against. [16th–17th c.]
  5. (intransitive) To intensify one's efforts.
    It's 9:41, 58 degrees, and I'm flunking out. Time to bear down.
    • 2003 October, Cameron Morfit, “A Furious Focus; Call his swing whatever you want--Jim Furyk's approach to life and golf is anything but loopy”, in Golf Magazine, volume 45, number 10, page 106:
      When Furyk spots another Arizona alum on Tour, one of them will utter the official U of A exhortation, which dates to the 1920s, when on his deathbed the school's quarter-back urged the football team to "bear down." Few on Tour bear down like Furyk. He has his plan and sticks to it.
    • 2005 May 12, Sue Kirchhoff, “Central American Free Trade Agreement faces obstacles”, in USA Today:
      Will CAFTA pass? The White House is starting to bear down, making the argument that CAFTA is not only a good deal economically, but vital for the political development and security of the region.
    • 2009 January, James Applewhite, “Write a poem in THREE PHASES.”, in Writer, volume 122, number 1, pages 22–23:
      You can't really run faster or farther over the long haul simply by bearing down harder. You have to raise the level of your effort, then relax, and trust that preparation.
  6. (intransitive, with on) To approach in a determined manner.
    • 2011 November 3, David Ornstein, “Macc Tel-Aviv 1 - 2 Stoke”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Huth headed wide inside two minutes, Andy Wilkinson blasted over from Shotton's cut-back and Jones was squeezed out when bearing down on goal.
  7. (intransitive) To exert downward pressure on one's abdomen, as in giving birth, forcing out feces, and some similar bodily maneuvers.


  • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter XIII, in Emma: [], volume II, London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, →OCLC, page 248:
    As Frank Churchill’s arrival had succeeded Mr. Elton’s engagement in the conversation of Highbury, as the latest interest had entirely born down the first, so now upon Frank Churchill’s disappearance, Mr. Elton’s concerns were assuming the most irresistible form.