Angela’s ABCs – Words Easily Confused: Born and Borne

The distinction between these two words is quite tricky as born and borne are both forms of the verb to bear, but born relates to birth or origin and borne relates to being carried, transported, supported or transmitted.

is used to describe the result of birth and by extension to describe a natural ability to do a particular job. It is also used in connection with the beginning or origin of something:

  • He was born and brought up in Leeds.
  • She is a born violinist.
  • He is a Russian-born scientist living in England.
  • You can’t expect me to believe that, I wasn’t born yesterday.
  • Serious problems of debt and depression are often born of poverty.
  • Her distrust of men was born of long experience of abuse and exploitation.


Borne conveys the idea of being carried, transported, supported or transmitted:

  • Dengue Fever is a mosquito-borne disease.
  • The constant bullying was more than could reasonably be borne.
  • The responsibility of raising her siblings was borne by the eldest daughter from a young age.
  • Several factors should be borne in mind before making a decision.
  • Her story is not borne out by the CCTV evidence.
  • The triplets were borne by a surrogate mother. (Here borne has the sense of carried in the womb.)
  • The teacher told the class that their hard work had borne fruit and everyone had passed the exam.


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