Bear vs Bare: What’s the Difference?

Before you write about the animals you saw on your last zoo trip, make sure you know the difference between bear vs bare.

As homonyms, the words bear and bare are commonly confused words. They sound the same but have different spellings and meanings, and this can confuse people when writing in the English language.

Before you start writing, make sure you know the difference between the word bear and the word bare. Using them appropriately in your writing will make you appear skilled and knowledgeable. Here is a guide to help you understand the difference between bear vs bare.

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Deciphering Bear vs Bare

Bear vs. bare

Bear and bare are homophones, a type of homonym that sounds the same but has different spellings and different meanings. By learning the meanings, etymology, and synonyms of these words, you should have an easier time keeping them straight.

The Meaning of Bare

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word bare means “not having a covering” or “not covered by clothing, shoes, or a hat. In this case, it is an adjective.

Bare can also be a verb that means “to make or lay something bare.”

Here are some example sentences that use the word bare correctly:

  • His bare feet felt hot on the pavement.
  • Do not go out in the snow with bare hands, but grab some gloves first.
  • The dog was baring his teeth at the intruder.

These phrases commonly use bare:

  • Bare minimum
  • Bare bones

Etymology of Bare

Bare comes from the 12th century. It showed up in Middle English from the Old English word baer. It also has roots in the Old High German word bar, which means naked.

Synonyms of Bare

Bare has several synonyms, which include:

  • Mere
  • Naked
  • Barren
  • Uncovered
  • Discover
  • Disclose

Definition of Bear

Bear vs bare
Bear can mean large mammal or furry animal with long, shaggy hair, rudimentary tails, plantigrade feet, and an omnivore diet

The word bear has two meanings according to the dictionary. The first is the large mammal or furry animal with long, shaggy hair, rudimentary tails, plantigrade feet, and an omnivore diet. It can also mean “a surly, uncouth, burly, or shambling person.”

The verb bear means “to accept or allow oneself to be subjected to especially without giving way” or “to support the weight of.” This is an irregular verb and the past tense forms are born or borne.

Here are some example sentences that use bear correctly:

  • The grizzly bear growled at the campers.
  • Bear your friend's burden to provide the right level of support.
  •  The tall, friendly bear of a man greeted us at the door.

These phrases also use the word bear:

  • Bear fruit
  • Bear children
  • Bear with me
  • Bear arms

Etymology of Bear

The noun bear comes from the Middle English beer. This came from the Old English bera or brun. This word means brown, which is a common color for the wild animal.

The verb bear comes from the Middle English word beren, which means to carry, and held English beran.

Synonyms for Bear

Some synonyms for bear include:

  • Beast
  • Chore
  • Headache
  • Deliver
  • Drop
  • Produce
  • Carry

How to Decide Between Bear Vs Bare

It's easy to get confused between bear and bare. One simple trick to keep them straight is to remember that the word bare almost always refers to uncovering or revealing something.

Thus, it would be wrong to say you are going to “bare arms” when carrying a weapon because you are not going to uncover your arm. Thus, the phrase is “bear arms.”

All other uses of bare and bear will be bear. While a wild, furry mammal is the most commonly thought of meaning, it can also mean carrying a burden or heavy load or doing something difficult. You might also find our former vs. latter explainer helpful.

A Final Word on Bear vs Bare

When it's time to decide the correct expression when using bear or bare, keep in mind that bare means to uncover something. In English grammar, most other uses of the word use bear.

The next time you want to talk about a wild animal or a heavy burden, use bear. The next time you want to talk about uncovering something, use bare. This will show that you are a skilled, knowledgeable writer.

FAQs on Bear vs Bare

What is the difference between bare and bear?

The word bare means to uncover or expose something. It can have both verb and adjective use.
The word bear refers to a large, furry animal. It also can refer to something that is difficult. The verb form means to carry or shoulder something.

When to use bear or bare?

Use the word bare any time you are talking about uncovering something or something that is uncovered or exposed. Otherwise, use bear.

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