noun, plural bears, (especially collectively) bear.

  1. any of the plantigrade, carnivorous or omnivorous mammals of the family Ursidae, having massive bodies, coarse heavy fur, relatively short limbs, and almost rudimentary tails.
  2. any of various animals resembling the bear, as the ant bear.
  3. a gruff, burly, clumsy, bad-mannered, or rude person.
  4. a person who believes that market prices, especially of stocks, will decline (opposed to bull).
  5. Informal. a person who shows great ability, enthusiasm, stamina, etc.: a bear for physics.
  6. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. either of two constellations, Ursa Major or Ursa Minor.
  7. Informal. a player at cards who rarely bluffs.
  8. (initial capital letter) Russia.


  1. having to do with or marked by declining prices, as of stocks: bear market.

verb (used with object), beared, bear·ing.

  1. Stock Exchange. to force prices down in (a market, stock, etc.).

  1. loaded for bear, Informal. fully prepared and eager to initiate or deal with a fight, confrontation, or trouble: Keep away from the boss—he’s loaded for bear today.

noun the Bear

  1. the English name for Ursa Major, Ursa Minor
  2. an informal name for Russia

verb bears, bearing, bore or borne (mainly tr)

  1. to support or hold up; sustain
  2. to bring or conveyto bear gifts
  3. to take, accept, or assume the responsibility ofto bear an expense
  4. (past participle born in passive use except when foll by by) to give birth toto bear children
  5. (also intr) to produce by or as if by natural growthto bear fruit
  6. to tolerate or endureshe couldn’t bear him
  7. to admit of; sustainhis story does not bear scrutiny
  8. to hold in the conscious mind or in one’s feelingsto bear a grudge; I’ll bear that idea in mind
  9. to show or be marked withhe still bears the scars
  10. to transmit or spreadto bear gossip
  11. to render or supply (esp in the phrase bear witness)
  12. to conduct or manage (oneself, the body, etc)she bore her head high
  13. to have, be, or stand in (relation or comparison)his account bears no relation to the facts
  14. (intr) to move, be located, or lie in a specified directionthe way bears east
  15. to have by right; be entitled to (esp in the phrase bear title)
  16. bear a hand to give assistance
  17. bring to bear to bring into operation or effecthe brought his knowledge to bear on the situation

noun plural bears or bear

  1. any plantigrade mammal of the family Ursidae : order Carnivora (carnivores). Bears are typically massive omnivorous animals with a large head, a long shaggy coat, and strong clawsSee also black bear, brown bear, polar bear Related adjective: ursine
  2. any of various bearlike animals, such as the koala and the ant bear
  3. a clumsy, churlish, or ill-mannered person
  4. a teddy bear
  5. stock exchange
    1. a speculator who sells in anticipation of falling prices to make a profit on repurchase
    2. (as modifier)a bear market Compare bull 1 (def. 5)

verb bears, bearing or beared

  1. (tr) to lower or attempt to lower the price or prices of (a stock market or a security) by speculative selling

Old English beran “to bear, bring; bring forth, produce; to endure, sustain; to wear” (class IV strong verb; past tense bær, past participle boren), from Proto-Germanic *beranan (cf. Old Saxon beran, Old Frisian bera, Old High German beran, German gebären, Old Norse bera, Gothic bairan “to carry, bear, give birth to”), from PIE root *bher- (1) meaning both “give birth” (though only English and German strongly retain this sense, and Russian has beremennaya “pregnant”) and “carry a burden, bring” (see infer).

Ball bearings “bear” the friction. Many senses are from notion of “move onward by pressure.” Old English past tense bær became Middle English bare; alternative bore began to appear c.1400, but bare remained the literary form till after 1600. Past participle distinction of borne for “carried” and born for “given birth” is from late 18c. To bear (something) in mind is from 1530s.


Old English bera “bear,” from Proto-Germanic *beron, literally “the brown (one)” (cf. Old Norse björn, Middle Dutch bere, Dutch beer, Old High German bero, German Bär), from PIE *bher- (3) “bright, brown” (see brown (adj.)).

Greek arktos and Latin ursus retain the PIE root word for “bear” (*rtko; see Arctic), but it is believed to have been ritually replaced in the northern branches because of hunters’ taboo on names of wild animals (cf. the Irish equivalent “the good calf,” Welsh “honey-pig,” Lithuanian “the licker,” Russian medved “honey-eater”). Others connect the Germanic word with Latin ferus “wild,” as if it meant “the wild animal (par excellence) of the northern woods.”

Symbolic of Russia since 1794. Used of uncouth persons since 1570s. Stock market meaning “speculator for a fall” is 1709 shortening of bearskin jobber (from the proverb sell the bearskin before one has caught the bear); i.e. “one who sells stock for future delivery, expecting that meanwhile prices will fall.” Paired with bull from c.1720. Bear claw as a type of large pastry is from 1942, originally chiefly western U.S.

In addition to the idioms beginning with bear

  • bear a grudge
  • bear down
  • beard the lion
  • bear fruit
  • bear in mind
  • bear one’s cross
  • bear out
  • bear the brunt
  • bear up
  • bear with

also see:

  • bring to bear
  • cross as a bear
  • cross to bear
  • grin and bear it
  • loaded for bear
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