Look for the bear/bare necessities!

This week, we again plunge into the mailbag:

Dear Scribe:

It is only to you that I feel free to bear/bare my soul and admit the burden that I bear/bare:  I am confused about bear/bear.  Please bear/bare with me and lead me to greater understanding.

/s/ Unbare/bearable

Dear Unbare:

Your confusion is understandable.  In addition to being homophones (a word pronounced the same as another word but differing in meaning), “bear” and “bare” are remarkably versatile words with many meanings.  Here’s a quick guide to the correct use of “bear” and “bare.”


  • To give as testimony, e.g., “Bear false witness.”
  • To render, e.g., “The judgment will bear 9 percent interest.”
  • To extend in a direction, e.g., “Go one mile then bear right toward the Abbey.”
  • To have as a feature or characteristic, e.g., “The coin bears Caesar’s likeness.”
  • To endure a weight or strain, e.g., “The disappointment was hard to bear.”


  • Lacking clothing or covering, e.g., “Let’s walk in our bare feet.”
  • To expose, e.g., “If you will listen, I will bare my soul.”
  • Nothing left over or added, e.g., “I brought only the bare necessities.”

That is all for now …

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