Borne vs. Born: What’s the Difference?

The English language has many homophones, or words that sound alike but mean different things.

Born and borne are homophones, but they are unique in that they actually function as the same part of speech—they are actually the same tense of the same verb. Their usage, however, is determined primarily by context.

Continue reading to find out whether you should choose borne or born in your own writing.

Borne vs Born: What’s the Difference?

In this article, I will compare borne vs. born. I will use each word in a sentence to demonstrate its proper context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful mnemonic to use in situations when you can’t remember whether born or borne is the word you should choose.

When to Use Borne

Definition of borne definition of born definitionWhat does borne mean? Borne is the past participle of the verb bear, and is thus used with a helping verb. It is a versatile word that can be used as a synonym for carried, suffered, kept, and sometimes given birth.

For example,

  • Gamete had borne the Elven sword Telomere hither and yon across the kingdom of Fallopia.
  • Gwyneth had borne a son during the war, and the boy survived a dangerous childhood.
  • If borne out, that forecast would indicate this year’s plunging freight rates and shrinking profits for marine carriers will only grow worse, particularly on major trade lanes across the Pacific and between Asia and Europe. –The Wall Street Journal

When to Use Born

Define borne and define bornWhat does born mean? Born is also a past participle of the same verb, bear, but has a more restricted meaning. In modern English, born is limited to one common use.

It is used in the passive, without the word by, as the standard way to refer to given birth, especially in the verb phrase was born. Born is also used as an adjective, where it describes a person’s origins.

For example,

  • The regime under Pinochet did not keep detailed or accurate records, but as far as we can tell, the man was born in Chile in the early 1980s.
  • Cornelia is a homegrown Iowan, born and bred.
  • The boy was born under a bad sign, and showed unnatural abilities and an otherworldly temper from an early age.
  • Using records of a large health maintenance organization, researchers tracked 260,556 infants born from January 1997 through the end of March 2013. –The New York Times

Trick to Remember the Difference

born versus borneHere is a helpful trick to remember born vs. borne.

Both of these words are used as the past participle of the verb bear. Borne is the general-use form, with born being standard in contexts involving childbirth, and as an adjective to refer to a person’s origin.

These words can be confusing, but if you remember that the word childbirth is spelled without an E, you should be able to remember to use born for these situations, since born is also spelled without that letter.

Summary

Is it born or borne? Born and borne are alternate spellings of the same word, which is the past participle form of the verb bear. Even though, as verbs, they function the same in a sentence, they are used in different contexts.

  • Born refers to childbirth.
  • Borne is used in all other contexts.

Born can also be used as an adjective to describe a person’s origin.

Keep in mind that neither childbirth nor born is spelled with an E. You should only use born when you are referring to the birth of a child, or a place where a person was born.

To summarize, born refers to childbirth, and borne is used in reference to carrying something.

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