Would you like to point out that one thing is taking the physical or metaphorical weight of another thing on its own? The phrase ‘bear the brunt’ can be used to mean this, although most people don’t imagine the beginnings of the phrase when it gets said or written. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this common saying.
The phrase ‘bear the brunt’ can be used to imply that something is carrying the majority of something else, whether the ‘weight’ in question is emotional or physical.
Someone would use the phrase to say that something is showing strain from all the weight (emotional or physical) that it (or they) are carrying.
The phrase ‘bear(ing) the brunt’ can be used to imply that something is near breaking point from this carried ‘weight’.
The expression is more often figurative than it is literal, and when people ‘bear the brunt’ of something it is used to mean that they cannot take the strain or pressure of something they are dealing with.
There are several valid ways to apply the phrase in conversation, including to say ‘bear the brunt’, ‘bearing the brunt’ and ‘beared the brunt’ if the sentence talks about something in the past tense.
The phrase is most often used as a complete saying.
The saying is often used in the wrong way, including ‘bare the brunt’ which is a misspelling that would change the saying to something meaningless.
“My mother got divorced from my father because when it came to household issues, she would always bare the brunt of the problems while my dad was out spending money on gambling and hookers.”
“If you don’t like your job, then always think of the guy who works one level below you and bears the brunt of everyone else’s work.”
“Never show people just how well you can really do something, or you’ll bear the brunt of the burger flipping duties at the Krusty Krab.”
“The famous people in the movie might get the biggest check, but don’t forget that the animators have to bear the brunt of the work.”
The phrase ‘bear the brunt’ has been around since at least the early 1500s to 1600s, according to most online language resources. The origin of the phrase is likely to date back further, to when the phrase ‘brunt’ appeared in common use through Norse language influences.
There are some dictionaries that attribute the expression to old German languages instead, which can cause some confusion as to where the term actually comes from.
The phrases ‘bear the brunt’ and ‘bearing the brunt’ were in common and popular use through at least the 1800s, and use of the phrase continued well throughout the 1900s to 2010s.
Phrases Similar to Bear the Brunt
- Carry the weight (of the world) on their shoulders
Phrases Opposite to Bear the Brunt
What is the Correct Saying?
- [someone is] bearing the brunt
- bear the brunt
Ways People May Say Bear the Brunt Incorrectly
There are several ways in which someone can misunderstand or misuse the phrase, including the incorrect spelling to ‘bare the brunt’ of something: this renders an incorrect saying which has no actual meaning.
The phrase can also cause confusion when it is translated directly into other languages. ‘Brunt’ might have no direct equivalent, and confuse speakers in other languages with attempts at translation.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Bear the Brunt
The correct way to use the phrase ‘bear the brunt’ is to use the phrase to imply that someone carries an excess amount of responsibility or work (often compared to someone else).
The phrase is used as a whole, since ‘brunt’ would make no conversational sense when used in a sentence.
The phrase can be used to say that someone ‘bears the brunt’, that someone is ‘bearing the brunt’ or that someone is ‘going to bear the brunt’ when the saying is used in the future tense.