A bear






  • From Middle English bere, from Old English bera, from Proto-West Germanic *berō, from Proto-Germanic *berô (compare West Frisian bear, Dutch beer, German Bär, Danish bjørn).
  • This is generally taken to be from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer- (compare Tocharian A, Tocharian B, Lithuanian bė́ras), related to brown, bruin, and beaver.
  • The Germanic languages replaced the older name of the bear, *h₂ŕ̥tḱos, with the epithet "brown one", presumably due to taboo avoidance; compare Russian медве́дь.
  • However, Ringe (2006:106) doubts the existence of a root *bʰer- meaning "brown" ("an actual PIE word of [the requisite] shape and meaning is not recoverable") and suggests that a derivation from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰwer- "should therefore perhaps be preferred", implying a Germanic merger of *ǵʰw and *gʷʰ (*gʷʰ may sometimes result in Germanic *b, perhaps e.g. in *bidjaną, but it also seems to have given the g in gun and the w in warm).
  • From Middle English beren, from Old English beran, from Proto-West Germanic *beran, from Proto-Germanic *beraną, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰéreti, from *bʰer-.
  • Akin to Old High German beran, Dutch baren, Norwegian Bokmål bære, Norwegian Nynorsk bera, German gebären, Gothic 𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌽, Sanskrit भरति, Latin ferre, and Ancient Greek φέρειν, Albanian bie, Russian брать, Persian بردن.
  • Middle English bere ("pillowcase"), of obscure origin, but compare Old English hlēor-bera ("cheek-cover"). Possibly cognate to Low German büre, whence German Bühre, which in turn has been compared to French bure.

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