noun, often attributive
\ˈber \
plural bears

Definition of bear 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 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

2 : a surly, uncouth, burly, or shambling person a tall, friendly bear of a man

3 [ probably from the proverb about selling the bearskin before catching the bear ] : one that sells securities or commodities in expectation of a price decline — compare bull

4 : something difficult to do or deal with the oven is a bear to clean


\ˈber \
bore\ ˈbȯr \; borne also born\ ˈbȯrn \; bearing

Definition of bear (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to accept or allow oneself to be subjected to especially without giving way couldn't bear the pain I can't bear seeing you cry

b : to call for as suitable or essential it bears watching

c : assume, accept

d : to support the weight of : sustain

e : to hold above, on top, or aloft

f : to admit of : allow

2a : to move while holding up and supporting (something)

b : to have as a feature or characteristic bears a likeness to her grandmother

c : to be equipped or furnished with (something)

d : to have as an identification bore the name of John

e : to hold in the mind or emotions bear malice

f : behave, conduct bearing himself well

g : to give as testimony bear false witness

h : disseminate

i : lead, escort

j : render, give

3a : to give birth to

b : to produce as yield

c(1) : to permit growth of

(2) : contain oil-bearing shale

4 : thrust, press

intransitive verb

1a : to go or incline in an indicated direction

b : to extend in a direction indicated or implied

c : to be situated : lie

d : to become directed

e : to force one's way

2a : apply, pertain often used with on or upon facts bearing on the question

b : to exert influence or force

3 : to produce fruit : yield

4 : to support a weight or strain often used with up

bear a hand

: to join in and help out

bear arms

1 : to carry or possess arms

2 : to serve as a soldier

bear fruit

: 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

bear with

: to be indulgent, patient, or forbearing with (someone)


geographical name
\ˈber \

Definition of Bear (Entry 3 of 3)

river 350 miles (563 kilometers) long in northern Utah, southwestern Wyoming, and southeastern Idaho flowing to Great Salt Lake

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Other Words from bear


bearlike \ ˈber-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for bear


bear, suffer, endure, abide, tolerate, stand mean to put up with something trying or painful. 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

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.

Examples of bear in a Sentence


Traffic 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 2004 True, 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 1994 Hikers 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.


A 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. 2006 Large 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. 2002 The 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 1998 In 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. 1993 As 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. 1987 The 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?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Critics say the Warriors have destroyed any semblance of NBA competitive balance, like a bear entering the Nathan’s hot-dog-eating contest. Scott Ostler,, "With ‘Boogie,’ Warriors shoot into ‘death zone’," 9 July 2018 Wildlife troopers late Monday afternoon received a call of a bear attack on the Copper River near Taral Creek. Becky Bohrer, The Seattle Times, "Grizzly bear mauls man on Copper River rafting trip," 26 June 2018 But at Big Chicks—and only at Big Chicks—a bear could not intimidate me. David Tamarkin, Bon Appetit, "“I Think We Have a Gay Bar”," 6 June 2018 This, of course, wasn’t the normal response to the bears. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Charlie Russell, a Naturalist Who Lived Among Bears, Has Died at 76," 14 May 2018 Paddington returns The second story about a marmalade-loving bear comes to DVD and Blu-ray with Paddington 2. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Top Picks: Laura Veirs' 'The Lookout,' the podcast 'Circle Round,' and more top picks," 4 May 2018 Easter Fools’ Day Easter is on April 1 this year, marking the first time since 1956 that the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection overlaps with the official day for tricking your girlfriend into thinking there’s a bear outside. Ben Meyerson, RedEye Chicago, "A Kanye fan dating site, Easter April Fools' pranks to beware, and more conversation starters for your weekend," 30 Mar. 2018 Binturongs are also called bearcats, though they are not related to the bear or the cat. Paige Fumo Fox, Daily Southtown, "Need a cuteness fix? Where to spy, sometimes pet, baby animals," 26 Mar. 2018 While the end-of-year prediction by bulls may still hold true, the declines that followed lent equal credence to bears., "Four Trends in Nine Weeks: Emerging Stocks on Roller Coaster," 5 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

During the marriage's early years, the Sinatras lived in a modest apartment in Jersey City, where their two eldest children were born. John Rogers,, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., first wife of Frank Sinatra, dies at 101," 14 July 2018 During the marriage’s early years, the Sinatras lived in a modest apartment in Jersey City, where their two eldest children were born. John Rogers,, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., first wife of Frank Sinatra, dies at 101," 14 July 2018 During the marriage's early years, the Sinatras lived in a modest apartment in Jersey City, where their two eldest children were born. NBC News, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., first wife of Frank Sinatra, dies at 101," 14 July 2018 During the marriage's early years, the Sinatras lived in a modest apartment in Jersey City, where their two eldest children were born. CBS News, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., Frank Sinatra's first wife, dead at 101," 14 July 2018 The Detroit Zoo has even more reason to celebrate the first World Chimpanzee Day on Saturday after a female chimpanzee was born just after midnight at the zoo. Tanya Wildt, Detroit Free Press, "Baby chimpanzee born at Detroit Zoo on World Chimpanzee Day," 14 July 2018 By comparison to what's happening this weekend across the pond at the Wimbledon Championships, there's far less glamour to a Met title, but both are born from a similar place: the love of the game. Adam Baum,, "Princeton, Little Miami grads team up and take men's Met doubles championship," 13 July 2018 As one of our country’s oldest unsolved cases, theories still abound — did a she-bear take her? Longreads, "The Top 5 Longreads of the Week," 13 July 2018 The turnout for Build-A-Bear Workshop’s national pay-your-age promotion ended up being more than the pricey stuffed animal retailer could bear yesterday, forcing the company to cut off long lines and close some stores for safety concerns. Oona Goodin-smith,, "Families of Cosmo DiNardo murder victims speak out, Pa. to pay $2M to fight teacher shortage | Morning Newsletter," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bear.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bear


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for bear


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

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Learn More about bear

Statistics for bear

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bear

The first known use of bear was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for bear



Financial Definition of bear

What It Is

A bear has a negative outlook on the market (belief that the value of an asset or market will decrease).

How It Works

Investors generally fall into two mindsets: those with an optimistic outlook who foresee prosperity, called "bulls," and those with a pessimistic outlook who foresee decline, called "bears."

A bearish investor will alter their portfolio strategy by liquidating securities they believe are going to lose value in the foreseeable future. A bullish investor, on the other hand, believes securities will continue to rise and would continue to invest long in securities.

Depending on an investor's outlook, they could change from a bear to a bull or vice-versa.

Why It Matters

Market perceptions can affect securities prices depending on how many bulls or bears there are in the market. This is best expressed by the bull/bear ratio. In either case, bulls and bears can impact the direction of market movements as a result of the investments they make.

If you're having difficulties remembering the which animal describes what, just remember: A bull attacks by thrusting his horns in an upward movement, while a bear attacks by swiping his paw in a downward movement. Therefore, if the market goes up, it's a bull market; it the market trends down, it's a bear market.

For more details on the history of these words, read The Quirky And Brutal Origins Of The Terms 'Bear' And 'Bull.'

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of bear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any one of a group of large and heavy animals that have thick hair and sharp claws and that can stand on two legs like a person

finance : a person who expects the price of stocks to go down and who sells them to avoid losing money

: something that is difficult to do or deal with



English Language Learners Definition of bear (Entry 2 of 2)

: to accept or endure (something) ( US )

: to be worthy of (something) : to deserve or allow (something)

: to assume or accept (something, such as cost or responsibility)


\ˈber \
plural bears

Kids Definition of bear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 or plural bear : a large heavy mammal with long shaggy hair and a very short tail

2 : a person resembling a bear in size or behavior a large bear of a man He acted like a grumpy old bear.


bore\ ˈbȯr \; borne\ ˈbȯrn \; bearing

Kids Definition of bear (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : support entry 1 sense 1 bear weight

2 : to move while holding up and supporting : carry They came bearing gifts.

3 : to hold in the mind She bears a grudge.

4 : to put up with I can't bear the suspense.

5 : to assume or accept bear the blame

6 : to have as a feature or characteristic She bears a resemblance to her sister.

7 : give birth to bear children

8 : produce entry 1 sense 1 trees bearing fruit bear interest

9 : to move or lie in the indicated direction Bear right at the fork.

10 : to have a relation to the matter at hand These facts don't bear on the question.

bear down on

: to push or lean down on Bear down hard on your pencil.

bear in mind

: to think of especially as a warning Bear in mind that you only get one chance.

bear up

: to have strength or courage She's bearing up under the stress.

bear with

: to be patient with Bear with me.

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\ˈba(ə)r, ˈbe(ə)r \
bore\ ˈbō(ə)r, ˈbȯ(ə)r \; borne\ ˈbō(ə)rn, ˈbȯ(ə)rn \ also born\ ˈbȯ(ə)rn \; bearing

Medical Definition of bear 

: to give birth to


\ˈbar \
bore\ ˈbōr \; borne\ ˈbōrn \ also born

Legal Definition of bear 

transitive verb

1 : to physically carry (as an object or message) the right of the people to keep and bear armsU.S. Constitution amend. II

2 : yield the stock will bear a dividend

3a : to admit of : allow whatever price the market will bear

b : assume, accept you bear legal responsibility for him

intransitive verb

: to relate or have relevance will admit evidence bearing on her defense

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Comments on bear

What made you want to look up bear? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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