Word Confusion: Bare versus Bear

Posted October 14, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Wow, can you imagine a bear-knuckled brawler? His fingers would be so spread out…!

This one I run across all too often in romance books, and I should think those authors would really want to get it right. Nothing like a good laugh when reading about a man who bears all to kill the mood. But then perhaps the author meant that the hero is putting up with a lot of problems. Maybe he’s even carrying her around…you know how much we ladies fantasize about being carried. We do know he’s not bearing a child. He certainly isn’t taking off his clothes…dang it.

Ooh, ick, I just had a thought…what if someone beared their teeth! Ick, all that hair! I can’t imagine how long it would take to floss!?!

On the One Hand… …and On the Other
baring in mind

Well, I’m gonna guess someone’s thinking of porn

bearing in mind

keep in mind

Can you bare a hand?

Take the gloves off. I assume it could have erotic connotations if this were a story about an earlier age, the Victorians for instance.

Can you bear a hand?

See graphic above…snicker… Seriously, it is a common phrase, “to bear a hand” or help someone

bare arms

wearing a sleeveless shirt or nuthin’ a’tall!

bear arms

Carry a gun or rifle

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Bare Bear
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: bear

Image courtesy of Qarrtsiluni

…and the cupboard was bare. Sorry, guys, I was not going to include a bare photo to match the baring bear…

Image courtesy of Amusing Planet

One bear who’s baring her bottom.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Adverb; Determiner;
Verb, transitive 1

Third person present verb: bares
Past tense or past participle: bared
Gerund or present participle: baring

Noun 2, 3, 4, 5;
Verb 6, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: bears
Past tense: bore
past participle: borne
Gerund or present participle: bearing

[Of a person or part of the body] Not clothed or covered

  • Without the appropriate, usual, or natural covering
  • Without the appropriate or usual contents
  • Unconcealed
  • Without disguise

Without addition; basic and simple

  • [Attrib.] Only just sufficient
  • [Attrib.] Surprisingly small in number or amount

[As submodifier; British; informal] Very

British; informal] A large amount or number of

Verb, transitive:
Uncover (a part of the body or other thing) and expose it to view

A large, heavy, mammal that walks on the soles of its feet, with thick fur and a very short tail

  • Family Ursidae: several genera and species
  • a stuffed toy
  • [Informal] A rough, unmannerly, or uncouth person
  • A large, heavy, cumbersome man
  • [The Bear; informal] A nickname for Russia
  • [The Bear] The constellation Ursa Major or Ursa Minor

[Stock market] A person who forecasts that prices of stocks or commodities will fall, especially a person who sells shares hoping to buy them back later at a lower price

  • [Used as an adjective ] Bear markets. Often contrasted with bull market. It’s origin is “said to be from a proverb warning against ‘selling the bear’s skin before one has caught the bear’.”]

[Slang] A capsule containing a narcotic 3

[Slang] A difficult school or college course 4

[Slang] Anything arduous or very disagreeable 5

  • Bitch
  • Doozie, humdinger

A type of pastry

Verb, intransitive:
Turn and proceed in a specified direction

Verb, transitive:
[Of a person] Carry

  • [Of a vehicle or boat] Convey passengers or cargo
  • Have or display as a visible mark or feature
  • Be called by a name or title
  • [Bear oneself; with adverbial] Carry or conduct oneself in a particular manner


  • Take responsibility for
  • Be able to accept or stand up to

Endure an ordeal or difficulty

  • [With modal and negative] Manage to tolerate a situation or experience
  • [Cannot bear someone/something] Strongly dislike

Give birth to a child

  • [Of a tree or plant] Produce fruit or flowers
He was bare from the waist up.

She padded in bare feet toward the door.

A clump of bare aspen trees shivered in the chill wind.

We were down to the bare floorboards.

It was a bare cell with just a mattress.

An ordeal that would lay bare a troubled family background.

He outlined the bare essentials of the story.

A strange, bare production of Twelfth Night.

We won by a bare majority.

All you need to get started with this program is a bare 10K bytes of memory.

That girl is bare lazy.

I’ve got bare work to do.

Verb, transitive:
He bared his chest to show his scar.

She bared all for that Playboy centerfold.

No, she thought. I can’t take another session with Janie baring all again.

The dog bared its teeth in a menacing snarl.

The man was bare of any hint of compassion.

Bears are related to the dog family, but most species are omnivorous.

Steiff was renowned for its teddy bears.

Big Jake was a lumbering bear of a man.

It was a bear market 24 June 2016 when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

It’s been a bear of a morning.

I adore bear claws.

Professor Adams is a bear.

Verb, intransitive:
Bear left and follow the old road.

The Jurgens farm bears due north.

The fruit trees should bear well this spring.

Verb, transitive:
He was bearing a tray of brimming glasses.

The warriors bore lances tipped with iron.

Steamboats bear the traveler out of Kerrerra Sound.

It was a small boat bearing a white flag

Many of the papers bore his flamboyant signature.

He bore the surname Tiller.

She bore herself with dignity.

Walls that cannot bear a stone vault.

No one likes to bear the responsibility for such decisions.

The expert’s fee shall be borne by the tenant.

It is doubtful whether either of these distinctions would bear scrutiny.

She bore the pain stoically.

She could hardly bear his sarcasm.

I cannot bear to see you hurt.

I can’t bear caviar.

She bore six daughters.

His wife had borne him a son.

a squash that bears fruit shaped like cucumbers

Smitty said he’d bear a hand in raising the barn.

We all have our cross to bear.

Adjective: barish
Adverb: barely
Noun: bareness
Adjective: bearlike
Noun: bearing
Phrasal Verb
bear away
bear down
bear down on
bear off
bear on
bear something out
bear up
bear with
History of the Word:
1 Old English barian of Germanic origin

Related to the Dutch baar.

2 Old English bera and related to the Dutch beer and German Bär.

3 1960s+ A term for narcotics.

4 1960s+ A term used by students.

5 1950s+.

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

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits

“Grammar Fun: Bear vs Bare” is courtesy of Grammarics, and it cracks me up!

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