Bearing or Baring – What’s the Difference?

Homophones have similar pronunciations but different meanings.

Two homophones, bearing and baring, are even more confusing than most others, since bearing has so many definitions.

It can be difficult to even remember all the meanings of bearing, let alone whether or not it overlaps with the meanings of other words like baring.

Continue reading to learn the difference in meaning between baring and bearing. Bering, of course, is a proper noun for two bodies of water in the Northern Hemisphere, and will not factor into this discussion.

What is the Difference Between Bearing and Baring?

In this article, I will compare bearing vs. baring. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in context. Plus, I will show you a memory tool that will help you choose either baring or bearing in your own writing.

When to Use Bearing

definition of bearing definition of baringWhat does bearing mean? The word bearing can function as multiple parts of speech.

It has several definitions as a noun, including an object that reduces friction between moving parts, and a synonym of relevance. You find bearings in cars, bikes, fidget spinners, etc.

In this article, however, I will concentrate on its use as a verb in this article.

As a verb, bearing can mean several things. It is the present participle of to bear, which can mean to carry, to gain ground, to have influence, to give birth, or to endure.

Here are examples of some of these meanings,

  • The favored horse was leading at the last lap, but the underdog horse was bearing down on him quickly.
  • “I have been bearing this load for you since the Appalachians!” complained Amy.
  • Paul Fusco, shooting in color, traveled in 1968 on the funeral train bearing Robert F. Kennedy’s coffin to Washington; the expectant mourners are a blurry, betrayed collective, with none of the specificity you’ll find in Cartier-Bresson or Robert Capa. –The New York Times

For a discussion of the phrases bear with me and bare with me, see here. Also, here is a discussion of bear vs. bare.

When to Use Baring

bearing versus baringWhat does baring mean? Baring is a verb. Specifically, it is the present participle of the verb to bare, which means to uncover or expose.

Someone who bares his soul to another person, for instance, is exposing his true thoughts or feelings in a vulnerable manner. Someone who bares her teeth is showing her teeth to someone else, likely as a signal of aggression.

As a present participle, baring describes a continuous action that is taking place right now, in real time.

For example,

  • As John washed the machinery, the thick coat of oil wiped away, baring the metal structures underneath.
  • “I am baring my soul to you right now, Kelsey, and all you want to talk about is where to go for happy hour!” said Mirsada.
  • At least a few fashion designers, it seems, have adopted Ally’s remedy: the aforementioned, leg-baring, expressively shrunken skirt suit. –The Wall Street Journal

Baring is pronounced bare-ing.

When to Use Barring

define baring define bearingWhat does barring mean? Another unrelated word, which has a different pronunciation, is the word barring, which can function as a preposition and a verb.

  • Barring a miracle, it looks like it’s going to rain. (Preposition)
  • We’re barring you from attending this event. (Verb)

Barring is pronounced bar-ing.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Both of these words are the present participle tense of their respective verbs. They are also homophones, making them much more confusing.

  • Baring means exposing.
  • Bearing has several other definitions not related to exposing.

Remember baring vs. bearing: Since the root word of baring is bare, which means exposed or naked, and both bare and naked contain an A, it should be easy to remember when to use baring.

Summary

Is it bearing or baring? Baring is a conjugation of the verb to bare, which means to expose. Bearing is a conjugation of the verb to bear, which has many meanings, including to carry and to endure.

  • To bare is to expose.
  • To bare is to endure, among other things.
  • Neither word can be substituted for the other.