the manner in which one conducts or carries oneself, including posture and gestures:
a man of dignified bearing.
the act, capability, or period of producing or bringing forth:
a tree past bearing.
something that is produced; a crop.
the act of enduring or capacity to endure.
reference or relation (usually followed by on):
It has some bearing on the problem.

a supporting part of a structure.
the area of contact between a bearing member, as a beam, and a pier, wall, or other underlying support.

Machinery. the support and guide for a rotating, oscillating, or sliding shaft, pivot, or wheel.
Often, bearings. direction or relative position:
The pilot radioed his bearings.
Surveying. a horizontal direction expressed in degrees east or west of a true or magnetic north or south direction.
Heraldry. any single device on an escutcheon; charge.
Contemporary Examples

I figured it all out once I saw the lights and got my bearings about which scene we were in.
Pablo Schreiber on His New Off-Broadway Play Kevin Sessums January 31, 2011

She is, ultimately, a creature so without precedent in our politics that people like Frank Rich have just lost their bearings.
Palin Paranoia Decoded Tunku Varadarajan November 22, 2010

Now the changes within secular Israel have loosened their bearings even more.
The Coming Kulturkampf? Yehudah Mirsky May 16, 2012

Occasionally, I lose my bearings and permit myself an ounce of sympathy for Republican chairman Reince Priebus.
Reince Priebus’s Terrible Case for GOP Reform Michael Tomasky June 16, 2013

Or the advisors who recommended it had temporarily lost their bearings.
Romney Won the Debate but it Was No Game Changer Robert Shrum October 3, 2012

Historical Examples

Well, then, when we get them exactly one in front of the other, they give us our bearings one way.
Menhardoc George Manville Fenn

Thus they discussed on familiar lines the bearings of a new situation.
The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad

Not being sure of his bearings, he mounted the taller of the hills to get a view of the surrounding country.
The Mystic Mid-Region Arthur J. Burdick

Possibly strangers may not comprehend all the bearings; but that is not your fault.
Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 2, April 9, 1870 Various

That put me afoot, and climbing up and down them hills I lost my bearings and didn’t know where I was at for a day or two.
The Happy Family Bertha Muzzy Bower

a support, guide, or locating piece for a rotating or reciprocating mechanical part
foll by on or upon. relevance (to): it has no bearing on this problem
a person’s general social conduct, esp in manners, dress, and behaviour

the act, period, or capability of producing fruit or young
an amount produced; yield

the part of a beam or lintel that rests on a support
anything that carries weight or acts as a support
the angular direction of a line, point, or course measured from true north or south (true bearing), magnetic north or south (magnetic bearing), or one’s own position
(usually pl) the position or direction, as of a ship, fixed with reference to two or more known points
(usually pl) a sense of one’s relative position or situation; orientation (esp in the phrases lose, get, or take one’s bearings)

a device or emblem on a heraldic shield; charge
another name for coat of arms


“parts of a machine which ‘bear’ the friction,” 1791, from present participle of bear (v.). Meaning “direction from a point of reference” is from 1630s; to take (one’s) bearings is from 1711.

“carrying of oneself, deportment,” mid-13c., verbal noun from bear (v.). Mechanical sense of “part of a machine that bears the friction” is from 1791.
see: get one’s bearings


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