or plural bear: any of a family (Ursidae of the order Carnivora) of large heavy mammals of America and Eurasia that have long shaggy hair, rudimentary tails, and plantigrade feet and feed largely on fruit, plant matter, and insects as well as on flesh
: to support a weight or strain—often used with up
bear a hand
: to join in and help out
: to carry or possess arms
: to serve as a soldier
: to come to satisfying fruition, production, or development : to produce a desired result or reward
bear in mind
: to think of (something) especially as a warning : remember
: to be indulgent, patient, or forbearing with (someone)
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Usage Note on Bear
There is considerable confusion between the verbs bear and bare. It may help to remember that the verb bare has only one meaning: "to uncover," as in "bare your shoulders" and "a dog baring its teeth." All other uses of the verb are for bear: "bearing children," "the right to bear arms," "bearing up under the stress/weight," "can't bear the thought," "bear south," "it bears repeating."
There is occasional confusion between bear and bare in adjectival uses (as in "he rubbed his bear arms"), but bear is properly a noun and only used like an adjective in the financial phrase bear market. All other uses refer to the state of being uncovered or naked and should therefore be bare: "bare necessities," "bare essentials," "bare arms," "bare bones," "bare-knuckle," and so on.
bear usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking.
forced to bear a tragic loss
suffer often suggests acceptance or passivity rather than courage or patience in bearing.
suffering many insults
endure implies continuing firm or resolute through trials and difficulties.
endured years of rejection
abide suggests acceptance without resistance or protest.
cannot abide their rudeness
tolerate suggests overcoming or successfully controlling an impulse to resist, avoid, or resent something injurious or distasteful.
refused to tolerate such treatment
stand emphasizes even more strongly the ability to bear without discomposure or flinching.
unable to stand teasing
Examples of bear in a Sentence
NounTraffic in Knoxville, Tennessee, can be a bear anytime, but in late spring the slowdowns on Neyland Drive are often caused by Canada geese.—Joelle Anthony, Audubon, November-December 2004True, the rally has been around the corner since Memorial Day. But bears have dominated market sentiment for so long since the Federal Reserve Board raised interest rates last February, that traders feel the market is headed for a major tectonic shift …—Anthony Ramirez, New York Times, 19 July 1994Hikers in the woods are far more likely to wear a bell to deter bears than to take precautions against bees. But bears kill two to seven people in North America annually, bee stings kill 600 to 900.—Allan J. Davison, Chemical & Engineering News, 15 Mar. 1993
a mother bear and her cubs
The bears outnumbered the bulls on Wall Street today. VerbA stone slab bearing 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars has been found in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and archaeologists say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.—John Noble Wilford, New York Times, 15 Sept. 2006Large public buildings often bear only a loose resemblance to what was originally in the minds of the architects who designed them. Things get cut back to save money; somebody has second thoughts about the way part of the building will function; it takes so long to get public approval that the original idea starts to seem dated …—Paul Goldberger, New Yorker, 17 Jan. 2002The most famous work of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), of course, was purifying milk with the process that now bears his name.—Brendan Miniter, American Enterprise, September/October 1998In so-called parking schemes, securities aren't carried on the books of the true owner but are temporarily sold to someone else with the understanding that the seller will continue to bear any risk of loss and reap any profits.—James B. Stewart, New Yorker, 8 Mar. 1993As a science fiction buff, many years ago, I remember being particularly fascinated by tales of genetic surgery. Imagine the surgeon … peering through the electron microscope, repairing the sickle-cell gene and returning the ovum to its mother, who would then bear a normal child.—Richard Novick, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 1987The sight of Niña already there, snugged down as if she had been at home a month, finished Martín Alonso Pinzón. Older than Columbus, ill from the hardships of the voyage, mortified by his snub from the Sovereigns, he could bear no more.—Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1974
a symphony that can bear comparison with Beethoven's best
The company agreed to bear the costs.
The criminals must bear full responsibility for the deaths of these innocent people.
Who will bear the blame for this tragedy? See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The bear obliges and soon scampers off into the woods after stepping out of the truck.—Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 22 Sep. 2023 Deano emerged and watched the bears rove around the gas station.—Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 Eventually Deano called base security, which got the bears to leave the van by blasting loud sirens.—Robert Higgs, cleveland, 19 Sep. 2023 Overwhelmingly, the incidents are a result of the people getting too close to the animals, like the scenario in Yellowstone where tourists were racing towards a family of bears.—Krista Simmons, Sunset Magazine, 17 Sep. 2023 Frequently Asked Questions Which bears are most aggressive?—Matthew Every, Field & Stream, 6 Sep. 2023 Those areas are considered core to the bear population and show evidence that reproduction is consistent.—Kinsey Crowley, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2023 With different flavors and strengths available, these delicious gummy bears make incorporating CBD into your routine both enjoyable and convenient.—Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 2 Sep. 2023 Another woman, hospitalized, after an unknown man sprayed her with bear mace in her tent.—Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 2 Sep. 2023
The focus for the brand was born from Johansson’s own experience with acne.—Brittany Talarico, Peoplemag, 25 Sep. 2023 According to the studio, over 60% of audiences were not born when the original 1984 film was released.—Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 24 Sep. 2023 Taylor, forty-three, was raised in the United States but born in Canada, and remembers having copies of Noam Chomsky and Doris Lessing’s Massey books.—Molly Fischer, The New Yorker, 24 Sep. 2023 The cost is often borne by taxpayers, said Houghtaling.—Kerry Breen, CBS News, 23 Sep. 2023 Coastal areas in North Carolina bore the brunt of impacts as the expansive storm’s center barged into the state earlier Saturday.—Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 23 Sep. 2023 The rivalry between Roman and Kendall Roy bears a striking resemblance to Lachlan and James Murdoch.—Bypaige Hagy, Fortune, 22 Sep. 2023 The Nasdaq Composite also fell for a third consecutive week, with tech shares bearing the brunt of the recent selloff.—WSJ, 22 Sep. 2023 Audrey Mae Sheppard Williams, the first wife of Hank Sr., is buried at Oakwood Cemetery Annex along with the country legend, who was born and raised in Alabama.—al, 12 Sep. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bear.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English bere, from Old English bera; akin to Old English brūn brown — more at brown
Middle English beren to carry, bring forth, from Old English beran; akin to Old High German beran to carry, Latin ferre, Greek pherein
First Known Use
before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1