Bear With Me or Bare With Me: Which Is Correct?

It's easy enough to say or hear this expression. "Bear with me" simply means to "hold on a moment" or "hang on for a moment." When spoken, we don't have to think about the correct spelling.

Bear With Me or Bare With Me: Which Is Correct? Bear With Me or Bare With Me: Which Is Correct?

But when it's time to put it on paper, it's hard to know if the correct expression is "bear" with me or "bare" with me. "Bear" and "bare" belong to the tricky class of homophones that have been tripping up English language speakers for centuries.

So, bear with me or bare with me: which is correct? Well, the long and short of it is that, in its verb form, "bare" means to reveal or uncover. "Reveal with me," doesn't quite have the intended meaning of "hold on a moment." Consequently, "bear with me" is the correct spelling of this common phrase.

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Bear With Me

Of course, when many people think of the word "bear," their attention turns to the scary grizzly bear outside the cabin door, rifling through the trash cans. That's certainly the definition of "bear" in its noun form.

What about "bear" as a verb? As a verb, "bear" means to cope with or to endure. So, the expression technically translates to "endure with me" or "endure this with me." In this context, it makes sense why "bear" is the way to go and not "bare" with me.

Other Expressions

"Bear" and "bare" have made it into a couple other common expressions. In the first two instances, these homophones are acting as verbs. In the third and final example, we finally see "bare" at work in its adjectival form.

Bear the Brunt

What about "bear the brunt"? That might cause a moment's hesitation too. Considering the verb forms again, we know that "bare" means to uncover while "bear" means to endure.

So, if someone's being asked to "bear the brunt" of something, it's referring to endurance again. An example would be, "She was asked to bear the brunt of her family's misfortune." Or, "He wound up having to bear the brunt of his brother's mistakes."

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Bare All

"Bare" does make it into at least one common expression. If someone is asked to "bare all," they're being asked to expose everything - whether that's the truth or their body. In this instance, you wouldn't refer to the verb "bear," meaning "to endure." Rather, you'd reference the verb "bare," meaning to uncover.

An example would be, "He was asked to bare all when he took the stand in court." In this instance, the person is being asked to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

You might also hear someone mention they were asked to "bare all" in an art class. For example, "David had to bare all in order for the great sculptor to sculpt him."

Bare Bones

A similar "bare" expression is "bare bones," which is sometimes written as the single compound noun "barebones." Here, we're dealing with "bare" as an adjective, modifying the noun "bones." For example, "Nothing was left, except the bare bones of her apartment." For something to be bare bones, it must be minimalistic or empty.

Someone might also deliver a "bare bones" speech. For example, "His speech on dolphins was nothing but bare bones." As such, it means the speaker didn't offer a lot of detail but, rather, just the basic elements.

To Bear or Not to Bear

To "bear with me" is to endure something with me. That's always the way to go with this tricky phrase. Are you talking about enduring something or uncovering something? It may not be an idiom, under its strictest definition, but this expression does rub up against the world of idioms. Usually, when someone's asking you to "bear with them," they're not asking you to literally endure some awful fate with them.

They're just asking you to hold on a second while they wrap up a project, conclude a phone call, or something to that effect. But since we're here, why not enjoy these idiom examples? Perhaps you'll include one or two in your next piece of writing.