Word Confusion: Beer versus Bier

Posted November 3, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I suspect someone got carried away, confusing bier for beer. Maybe the author had been drinking a lot of German bier and simply forgot that a German pilsner didn’t fit his character’s personality, especially since the boys were all drinkin’ Buds, ahem. Certainly reading about bier while the “warrior” was rocking out with his buds in an American biker bar wrecked my mood as thoughts of funerals leapt up in my brain. Did not make for a partying atmosphere.

It’s not just about choosing the proper spelling for a word, but choosing the right word that suits the setting, the characters, and the mood. After all bier does mean beer, but as you can see from above, the characters in this story were not the type to be drinking bier. Maybe if they’d been in a German bar…

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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Beer Bier
Credit to: Dictionary.com: beer and bier

“Export hell seidel steiner” by Hans Wastlhuber User:Cointel is his own work under license by CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Pope lying on a bier between aisles with American politicans around him

“John Paul II Lying on His Bier” by Eric Draper is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Pope John Paul II lying in state on his bier.

Part of Grammar:
Plural: beers
Plural: biers
Alcoholic beverage made by brewing and fermentation from cereals, usually malted barley, and flavored with hops and the like for a slightly bitter taste

Any of various beverages, whether alcoholic or not, made from roots, molasses or sugar, yeast, etc.

An individual serving of beer

A glass, can, or bottle of beer

[Modifier] Relating to or used in the drinking of beer

[Modifier] In which beer is drunk, especially of licensed premises having a license to sell beer

Frame or stand on which a corpse or the coffin containing it is laid before burial

  • Frame on which dead bodies were conveyed to the grave
root beer
ginger beer

I’ll buy a round of beers

Let’s get a keg of beer

beer glass, beer mat

beer house, beer cellar, beer garden

They carried his bier high so that all could see him.

And so the dwarves laid Snow White out upon a bier and wept for her.

Adjective: beery, beerier, beeriest
Adverb: beerily
Noun: beeriness
History of the Word:
First known use: before 1000

Middle English bere, Old English bēor.

It’s related to Old Saxon, Old High German bior, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch bēr, Dutch, German Bier (Old Norse bjōrr).

First known use: before 900

Middle English bere, Old English bēr, bǣr.

It’s related to Old High German bēra (German Bahre), Dutch, Danish baar, Swedish bår; spelling influenced by French bière.

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

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