Word Confusion: Poor vs Pore vs Pour

Posted June 30, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 10 December 2017

This particular word confusion, pore versus pour, makes me insane, and I most commonly see it confused when the author wants a character to be looking at something intently. The graphic image it always conjures up for me is wet. Really wet. I suppose it could be a dry pour, as in someone could pour sand or dirt over something, but I always imagine liquid.

I’ve experienced enough flooding whether it was in my books or my studio materials that I can imagine all too easily the loss and mess. All that water gushing over a book or pile of papers, it is simply depressing and such a job to dry out. So you can imagine how reading about someone pouring over a book takes me right out of the story. Sob…poor me…*more sobbing ensues*…

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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Poor Pore Pour
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: poor

Patched canvas tent with an open side shelters a mother and her four children on barren ground.

“Migrant Agricultural Worker’s Family”, 1936, Nipomo, California, by Dorothea Lange is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is the best this poor family can do.

“Kalymnos Sponges” is kallerna’s own work under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Sponges have pores.

“Mercury Pour” by an Environmental Protection Agency employee is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun
Plural for the noun: poor
Noun 1;
Verb, intransitive 2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: pores
Past tense or past participle: pored
Gerund or present participle: poring

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: pours
Past tense or past participle: poured
Gerund or present participle: pouring

Lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society

  • [Of a place] Inhabited by people without sufficient money

[Law] Dependent upon charity or public support

Worse than is usual, expected, or desirable

  • Of a low or inferior standard or quality
  • [Predic.; poor in] Deficient or lacking in something specified

  • [Dated] Used ironically to deprecate something belonging to or offered by oneself

[Attrib.; of a person] Considered to be deserving of pity or sympathy

[Of a country, institution, etc.] Meagerly supplied or endowed with resources or funds

Characterized by or showing poverty

Deficient in desirable ingredients, qualities, or the like

[Use with a
plural verb; usually preceded by the] Poor persons collectively

Minute opening in a surface, especially skin

Verb, intransitive:
Be absorbed in the reading or study of

[Archaic] Think intently, ponder

The act of pouring

An abundant or continuous flow or stream

A heavy fall of rain

Verb, intransitive:
Flow rapidly in a steady stream

Rain falls heavily

Verb, transitive:
Cause a liquid to flow from a container at an angle

Serve a drink in this way

Donate something in large amounts

Express one’s feelings or thoughts in a full and unrestrained way

[Humorous] Dress oneself in a tight-fitting piece of clothing

There are actually people who are too poor to afford a telephone.

The gap between the rich and the poor has widened.

Breckenville is a poor area with run-down movie theaters and overcrowded schools.

Many people are eating a very poor diet.

What can I say? Her work was poor.

The water is poor in nutrients.

He is, in my poor opinion, a more handsome young man.

They inquired after poor Dorothy’s broken hip.

The region was poor in mineral deposits.

Have you no sympathy for the poor?

But will the tax bill help the poor?

Cold water will tighten the pores.

Verb, intransitive:
She has pored over those books for days.

It was a pour of invective from the angry woman.

Verb, intransitive:
Words poured from his mouth

The rain poured down.

Verb, transitive:
She poured his juice into a sippy cup.

She poured out a cup of tea.

It’s pouring rain.

The letters poured in.

Janie poured out her hopes and fears.

Man, she must have poured herself into that dress!

Adjective: poorer, poorest, quasi-poor
Adverb: poorly, quasi-poorly
Noun: nonpoor, poorness
Adjective: porelike Adjective: pourable
Adverb: pouringly
Noun: pourability, pourer
Verb, transitive: interpour
History of the Word:
Middle English from the Old French poure, which is from the Latin pauper. 1 Late Middle English from the Old French, via Latin from the Greek poros meaning passage, pore.

2 Middle English.

Middle English of unknown origin.

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

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Back Blackheads by Dr. Vikram Yadav is a still from his video at YouTube.com.

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