Bare with me: more misused pears

fun with homonyms

Mismatched pear of shoes?

I was on live chat with a technician, and at one point he had to look something up. So he typed, “Bare with me.”


I’m pretty selective when it comes to either making that invitation or accepting it.

Besides, it’s much more fun when we’re in the same room.

Here’s another instance where a pear (oops, pair) of homonyms tripped someone up. He chose the wrong word. He meant, “Bear with me.” Bear as a verb has numerous meanings. Among others, it means to tolerate or endure. In this case, “put up with my absence for a while.”

Bear also means to proceed in a particular direction, and that reminds me of a story I heard about two very dumb hunters. They wanted to shoot a bear, but they were afraid of getting lost in the woods. So they decided to walk along a road and just look into the woods for the bear.

After a while, though, they came to a sign that said, “Lane closed ahead. Bear left.” What else could they do in that case? They just went back home.

At least they weren’t watching for the bear with baited breath. If the bear took the bait, their injuries might have been too much to bear.  “Bated breath,” on the other hand, refers to lessening the force of their breath. Or to get away from the dictionary definition, anyone who waits with bated breath barely breathes while waiting.

I can just imagine someone who succeeds in using the right words bragging on Facebook, “I past the test.”

Oops. The past tense of pass isn’t past. It’s passed. Past can never be used as a verb.

“Of coarse,” someone might say. Actually, I have never seen that blunder. I suspect that it’s only because course is such a more common word than coarse. I haven’t seen anyone recommending course sandpaper or objecting to course language. But it’s bound to turn up some time.

Perhaps that’s a mute point? No. Mute means silent. The proper word is moot, which means either debatable or, as a legal term, without significance, having already been decided.

Mute and moot are not exactly homonyms. They’re pronounced differently. We’ve all probably heard “mute point” as often as we have seen it in writing. It’s the same difference as that between the languages of a cat and a cow.

“Here! Here!” said the grammar police. Um, no. Lots of people write that, but not grammar police. If anyone shouts “here! here!” they’re merely calling attention to themselves and their location. “Hear! Hear!” on the other hand expresses agreement with what someone else said and urges everyone else within earshot to pay attention. 

Well, enough fun with homonyms for now. I’ve got to go. I just got an email from a dating service asking if I want to meat my ideal mate. I wonder what that means?


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