bearer vs pallbearer what difference

what is difference between bearer and pallbearer



From Middle English berer, berere, from Old English berere (attested in Old English wæterberere (waterbearer)), equivalent to bear +‎ -er.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈbɛəɹə/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈbɛɹɚ/
  • Rhymes: -ɛəɹə(ɹ)
  • Hyphenation: bear‧er


bearer (plural bearers)

  1. One who, or that which, bears, sustains, or carries.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, 2 Chronicles 2.18,[1]
      And he [Solomon] set threescore and ten thousand of them [the foreigners living in Israel] to be bearers of burdens,
    • 1676, John Dryden, Aureng-Zebe, London: Henry Herringman, Act II, p. 29,[2]
      Forgive the Bearer of unhappy news:
      Your alter’d Father openly pursues
      Your ruine;
  2. Someone who helps carry the coffin or a dead body during a funeral procession.
    Synonym: pallbearer
    • 1645, John Milton, “Another on the same” in Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, London: Humphrey Moseley, p. 29,[3]
      Nay, quoth he, on his swooning bed outstretch’d,
      If I may not carry, sure Ile ne’re be fetch’d,
      But vow though the cross Doctors all stood hearers,
      For one Carrier put down to make six bearers.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Chapter 5,[4]
      [] the bare coffin having been screwed down, was hoisted on the shoulders of the bearers, and carried into the street.
    • 1934, Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors, London: Victor Gollancz, 1975, “A Full Peal of Grandsire Triples”, Part 3,[5]
      The deep shadows of the porch swallowed up priest, corpse and bearers []
  3. One who possesses a cheque, bond, or other notes promising payment.
  4. A person employed or engaged to carry equipment on a safari, expedition, etc.
  5. A person employed to carry a palanquin or litter.
  6. (India, dated) A domestic servant in charge of household goods and clothing; a valet.
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, ‘Watches of the Night’, Plain Tales from the Hills, Folio 2005, p. 60:
      The bar of the watch-guard worked through the buttonhole, and the watch—Platte’s watch—slid quietly on to the carpet; where the bearer found it next morning and kept it.
  7. (India) A waiter in a hotel or restaurant.
  8. A tree or plant yielding fruit.
    • 1791, William Gilpin, Remarks on Forest Scenery: and Other Woodland Views, London: R. Blamire, Volume 1, Book 1, Section 6, p. 149,[7]
      In the common mode of pruning, this species of vine is no great bearer; but managed as it is here, it produces wonderfully.
  9. (dated) Someone who delivers a letter or message on behalf of another (especially as referred to in the letter or message).
    • c. 1600, William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2,[8]
      [] Wilt thou know
      Th’ effect of what I wrote? []
      An earnest conjuration from the King,
      As England was his faithful tributary, []
      That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
      Without debatement further, more or less,
      He should the bearers put to sudden death,
    • 1784, Samuel Johnson, letter cited in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, London: Charles Dilly, Volume 2, p. 487,[9]
      Sir, The bearer is my godson, whom I take the liberty of recommending to your kindness []
    • 1829, Walter Scott, Introduction to Rob Roy,[10]
      P. S.—If you’d send your pipes by the bearer [] I would put them in order, and play some melancholy tunes,
    • 1887, Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders, Chapter 13,[11]
      The message was brought, and Winterborne sent the bearer back to say that he begged the lady’s pardon, but that he could not do as she requested;
    • 1904, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, Chapter 25,[12]
      [] he gave him a note to Mr. Harmon, one of the head managers of Durham’s—
      “The bearer, Jurgis Rudkus, is a particular friend of mine, and I would like you to find him a good place []
  10. (printing) A strip of reglet or other furniture to bear off the impression from a blank page.
  11. (printing) A type or type-high piece of metal interspersed in blank parts to support the plate when it is shaved.

Derived terms


  • Bengali: বেয়ারা (beẏara), বেহারা (behara) (borrowed from sense 4)



  • rebear




  1. first-person singular imperfect passive subjunctive of beō



pall +‎ bearer


pallbearer (plural pallbearers)

  1. (archaic) One who carries a corner of the pall over a coffin or casket.
  2. One called upon to carry or bear the casket at a funeral.
    • 1980, Stephen King, The Wedding Gig
      It took ten pallbearers to carry her coffin.


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