“Born or Borne” … An annotated guide

Noel Hennessy
2 min readSep 6, 2020

I am merely a linguaphile with no credentials, but here is my contribution!

Let’s start with the idioms!

An idiom is an expression peculiar to itself (see Merriam-Webster idiom definition) and as such can break the conventional rules of grammar! (See Dictionary.com, idiom definition)

“Born of” and “Born out of” are idioms, according to their Merriam-Webster definitions, so let’s let them be and not worry about them!

The word “born” and germane to this discussion “bear” each have many meanings, but I’ll just highlight the relevant ones here!

Born and bear can each relate to childbirth — birth can either be child centered based on “born” or mother centered based on “bear”! (see dictionary.Cambridge.org “bear” definition, “born or borne”)

Conjugation is easy for child centered birth : born, born, and born! (See cooljugator.com) Here are child centered examples:

There is a baby born every minute! My grandchild is being born as we speak!

He was born in 1950!

He wished he had been born in another era!

…Except for a phrase like “childbearing age,” using “bear” to denote a mother carrying and giving birth is mostly outdated (people say “had” now) but it’s still used by writers who want to be polished! So here are mother centered examples based on “bear”: Conjugation: bear, bore, and borne! (see cooljugator.com)

She assents to bear a child!

“She climbed to the top while raising five kids she bore in six years.” (Nancy Pelosi, Liberated and Loving It, NY Times, 1/21/2023)

“Married women were asked how many children they had borne…” (Seven Decades Later, the 1950 Census Bares Its Secrets, NY Times, 4/1/2022)

More on “born”…born also means the birth of our emotions, thoughts and ideas! (See born definition in Collins Dictionary and Cambridge Dictionary.) Also, born means to yield, bring forth, resulting from (see Merriam-Webster, born definition).

Anxiety born of the Covid era!

A mind born of the computer age!

A partnership born of necessity!

A new nation was born!

A star is born!

Born again!

…Now, back to “bear, bore and borne”!

“Bear” has numerous additional meanings, but I’ll just focus on two that are pertinent to topic:

  1. Prove or confirm (see google word search, bear )

The market will bear out your astute stock choices!

A year went by and your choices were indeed borne out! You made money!

2. Carry (in addition to carry and give birth) and endure or tolerate (see Google word search, bear )

The disease was mosquito-borne!

He was a veteran of the 22nd Airborne Division!

I can’t bear another pill!

She bore that burden for years!

Costs borne by the taxpayers!

Whew! …I kindly submit the above for your approval! Thank you!

Addendum :

People often ask, “What about the phrase ‘bear fruit’…meaning to yield good results?”

Cambridge labels it an idiom! Cooljugator declension is bear, bore, borne! But M-W says “born” may be substituted as an acceptable variant for “borne” in this context! (Author’s note: Makes sense, since idioms needn’t comply with the rules of grammar!)

😉

See “bear fruit” definitions in Cambridge and M-W!

See www.cooljugator.com “bear fruit.”

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