Useful words with different meanings: Bare

Many words in English language, probably about 40 %, are polysemous or polysemic, i.e. they possess different meanings. Today we are looking into one of those words in order to enhance our vocabulary, one that is employed in many different contexts: bare (pronounced /bɛː/)

As an adjective, bare is a synonym of naked, that is, “physically without any clothes or not covered by anything”. For example:

  • Please don’t walk around with your bare feet: the floor is quite cold
  • You shouldn’t touch the food with your bare hands before you pack it, put on some gloves please
  • The room was absolutely bare of any ornaments or decoration.

However, bare can also mean “without addition, basic and simple”. See the following examples:

  • They just have enough money to cover their bare necessities
  • We do not have much time, so I will just give you the bare facts
  • When turned into an adverb, “barely” means “hardly”, “only just” or “by the smallest amount”. For instance:
  • He was barely a teenager when he had his first cigarette.
  • They have barely enough income to cover all their expenses this term.

As a verb, bare means “to uncover something and expose it to view”. See the following examples:

  • He bared his chest, showing all the scars he got during the war
  • She bared her feelings when she decided to reveal all her secrets.

So, as you can see, “bare” (and other words derived from it) is a very versatile word. It can be an adjective very useful to describe a wide range of concepts such as parts of the human body, spaces or feelings, and it can be used as a verb, becoming the synonym for “uncover”. It is without a doubt a relevant term to incorporate to our basic vocabulary.

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