Bare or Bear?

What Is the Difference between "Bare" and "Bear"?

homeconfused wordsBare or Bear?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

Bare means exposed (e.g., without clothes). For everything else, use bear.

Note: The term to bear fruit uses bear not bare. (This term is often mistakely written as to bare fruit.)

Bear or Bare

There is often confusion over the words bear and bare. This confusion arises because, knowing a bear is a large mammal (e.g., a brown bear), writers feel uncomfortable using bear in its other meanings. In fact, the word bear is a very versatile word. Here are common expressions with bear:
  • Bear the cost
  • Bear the pain
  • Bear the brunt
  • Bear the burden
  • Bear the consequences
  • Bear the thought
  • Bear the weight
  • Bear the name
  • Bear fruit


The word bear has many meanings:

To carry (in many senses of the word).
  • We come bearing gifts for your chief.
  • Our camels do not mate regularly, but we are expecting Tsu Tsu to bear her first baby next season.
  • This small tree bears hundreds of apples every year.
  • Who will bear the responsibility for this vandalism?
  • My auntie is the tall lady bearing the green hat.
  • (Bear means to wear as opposed to carry in this example.)
  • He bears himself with utmost dignity.
  • (Bear can mean to carry in an even looser sense.)
  • You bear a resemblance to your mother.
  • Does this document bear your signature?
  • I bear bad news, I'm afraid.
To endure or to tolerate.
  • Mrs Taylor cannot bear the constant drone of the generator.
  • I have learnt to bear the cold.
  • It is very easy to endure the difficulties of one's enemies. It is the successes of one's friends that are hard to bear. (Oscar Wilde)
To maintain a direction.
  • Bear left at the next two Y junctions.
  • This track bears north for the next 10 miles and then bears east as far as the lake.
A large mammal.


The adjective bare means uncovered, naked, or exposed (i.e., without cover, clothing or cladding).

  • Don't go out in bare feet. You'll catch a cold.
  • Was the protestor totally bare when he ran in the meeting room?
  • You need to cover those pipes. Bare pipes will freeze this winter.
  • Peter ploughed those fields with his bear hands?
  • (This should be bare hands.)

A Quick Test

hot grammar tip

Hot Tip

Trust The Bear

Writers are very familiar with bear meaning a large mammal (e.g., grizzly bear). However, the word bear as many meanings. When they encounter these other meanings, some writers are attracted to bare because they know that bear denotes the large mammal. Well, unless you mean exposed or naked (i.e., bare), then bear is correct.

For example:
  • This idea did not bear fruit.
  • This idea did not bare fruit.
teachers note

A Note from Teacher

Bore, Borne, and Born

The past tense of to bear is bore. For example:
  • They bore gifts for the chief.
  • You bore a remarkable resemblance to your mother when you were younger.
The past passive participle of to bear is borne. For example:
  • The burden borne by the managerial team was simply too heavy.
However, when talking about birth, the alternative participle born is used (as an adjective or in a passive sentence). For example:
  • I was London-born.
  • (Here, born is part of an adjective.)
  • She was born in Manchester.
  • (This is born in a passive sentence.)
  • The child was borne to a witch.
  • (This should be born.)
Note: The word before born is usually the verb to be (e.g., is, was, were, been).

Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Please tell us using this form.
Do you know your English idioms? idioms test

Take Our Test.

search icon

Search our idioms database. (We have 10,000+ idioms!)