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  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "to bear"

    bear /bɛə/vb (bears, bearing, bore, borne)(mainly tr)
    • to support or hold up; sustain
    • to bring or convey: to bear gifts
    • to take, accept, or assume the responsibility of: to bear an expense
    • (past participle bornin passive use except when followed by by) to give birth to: to bear children
    • (also intr) to produce by or as if by natural growth: to bear fruit
    • to tolerate or endure: she couldn't bear him
    • to admit of; sustain: his story does not bear scrutiny
    • to hold in the conscious mind or in one's feelings: to bear a grudge,I'll bear that idea in mind
    • to show or be marked with: he still bears the scars
    • to render or supply (esp in the phrase bear witness)
    • to conduct or manage (oneself, the body, etc): she bore her head high
    • to have, be, or stand in (relation or comparison): his account bears no relation to the facts
    • (intransitive) to move, be located, or lie in a specified direction
    • bear a hand ⇒ to give assistance
    • bring to bear ⇒ to bring into operation or effect

    • just; merely; only: he was but a child, I can but try

    Does that help?
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English but my first language was German
    Fascinating. This out-of-context half-sentence (the original is "This gale continued till towards noon; when the east end of the island bore but a little ahead of us. The captain swsggered and declared he would keep the sea") is copied all over the internet. It seems to come from the 1913 Merriam-Webster, an out-of-copyright dictionary.

    Bear (past tense bore) has a nautical meaning "(intransitive) to move, be located, or lie in a specified direction". Impossible to guess without the context.There are too many possible dictionary definitions to be helpful.

    Edit: The half-sentence comes from the dictionary, used as an illustration of the meaning. The source of the full sentence from Fielding is given by velisarius below.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The sentence is from "Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon", by Henry Fielding, 1755. At this point he is telling the story of a kitten that fell overboard and was rescued by a sailor. The island is the Isle of Wight.
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