bear

1 of 2

noun

plural bears
often attributive
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
bearlike adjective

bear

2 of 2

verb

bore ˈbȯr How to pronounce bear (audio) ; borne also born ˈbȯrn How to pronounce bear (audio) ; bearing

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
d
: to support the weight of : sustain
e
: to hold above, on top, or aloft
f
: to admit of : allow
2
a
: 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
i
j
3
a
: to give birth to
b
: to produce as yield
c(1)
: to permit growth of
(2)
: contain
oil-bearing shale
4

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
Phrases
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)

Did you know?

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.

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

Examples of bear in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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?
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The unthreatening, cuddly bears soon emerged as the choice to represent China on the world stage. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 July 2024 The park is home to hundreds of species, including bison, bears, wolves, elk, and antelope. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 9 July 2024
Verb
Anyone born during or after 1957 without evidence of immunity against measles or documentation of having been vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine should get vaccinated. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 13 July 2024 Aside from the name, the 2024 Capri bears little resemblance to its eccentric progenitor. Boone Ashworth, WIRED, 13 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for bear 

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English bere, from Old English bera; akin to Old English brūn brown — more at brown

Verb

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

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near bear

Cite this Entry

“Bear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bear. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

bear

1 of 2 noun
ˈba(ə)r How to pronounce bear (audio)
ˈbe(ə)r
plural bears
1
or plural bear : any of a family of large heavy mammals that have long shaggy hair and small tails and feed largely on fruit, plants, and insects as well as on flesh
2
: a rude, burly, or clumsy person
a real bear in the morning
a great bear of a man
3
: a person who sells stocks or bonds in the expectation that the price will go down
bearish
ˈba(ə)r-ish
ˈbe(ə)r-
adjective

bear

2 of 2 verb
bore ˈbō(ə)r How to pronounce bear (audio)
ˈbȯ(ə)r
; borne
ˈbō(ə)rn,
ˈbȯ(ə)rn
also born ˈbȯ(ə)rn How to pronounce bear (audio) ; bearing
1
a
: to move while holding up and supporting : carry
the right to bear arms
arrived bearing gifts
b
: to hold in the mind
bear a grudge
c
: behave sense 1
bore himself like a gentleman
d
: to give as testimony
bear false witness
e
: to have as a feature or characteristic
bears marks of suffering
bore a resemblance to her aunt
2
a
: to give birth to
bear children
the baby was born last week
b
: to bring forth : produce
bear fruit
3
a
: to hold up : support
b
: to put up with : stand
I can't bear the suspense
c
: assume sense 1
bore the costs
bear the blame
4
: to push down on : press
bears down on her pencil
5
: to move or lie in an indicated direction
bear right at the fork in the road
6
a
: to have a relation to the matter at hand
facts bearing on the question
b
: to exercise force or influence
bring pressure to bear
Etymology

Noun

Old English bera "a bear"

Verb

Old English beran "to carry, support"

Medical Definition

bear

transitive verb
: to give birth to

Legal Definition

bear

verb
bore ˈbōr How to pronounce bear (audio) ; borne
ˈbōrn
also born

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
3
a
: 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

Geographical Definition

Bear

geographical name

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

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