How to use bear and bare

Bare means naked, but to bear is to carry something. A bear is also a brown furry animal, but most people keep that one straight.



When you kick off your shoes to walk on the beach, you are enjoying the feeling of your bare feet in the warm sand. The adjective bare describes something or someone that is naked or unclothed.

Bare can be used in many different ways: to describe the inside of your nearly-empty refrigerator, an uncarpeted floor, or your unadorned, sparsely decorated bedroom. The word bare can also be used as a verb meaning “to uncover or expose.” When you reveal deep truths about yourself to another person — imagine confessing your passion for stamp collecting to a girl you like — you “bare your soul.”


To bear is to carry or endure, whether by physical or mental force. If you can bear to read on, you’ll find out all the different ways to use the word bear.

Obviously you know the big hairy mountain-roaming animal, but you might not have heard about a bear on Wall Street — an investor who is pessimistic about the market. In its verb form, bear is rooted in the Old English beran, meaning “to bring forth, sustain, endure” and more. So you can bear (or carry) a grudge. You can bear (or give birth to) children. Or you can bear (or stand) to listen to your great aunt tell the same story for the umpteenth time if you have a kind soul.

To bare is to uncover, either by removing clothes or revealing something. It’s getting down to the bare bones. Bare-knuckled or barehanded means the gloves are off. Don’t walk on glass in bare feet, and don’t bare your soul to a con artist. Let’s reveal a few good examples of bare:

In our textbooks, there are photos of physicians a century ago performing autopsies with their bare hands. (Salon)

At a bare minimum the crisis cost nearly $20,000 for each American. (New York Times)

If you can’t bear to be naked, you can’t stand it. Bear is to put up with or carry something, like a burden or a baby. Or both. It’s spelled just like the animal. Grin and bear it means to smile during a storm, not to smile and disrobe. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mentions the right to bear arms, and it has nothing to do with tank tops. If a tree bears fruit, you’re in luck. Here are some non-furry bears caught in the wild:

But he could not bear to live in their dream without the one who was to share it. (Time)

Your son will still be your son, and your grandchildren your grands, no matter what name they bear. (New York Times)

If you can’t bear to remember it all, just imagine a lumbering grizzly carrying a heavy load, and you’ll bear this knowledge with glee! If a bear bares his teeth, though, run!

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