Easily Confused Words: Born vs. Borne

Born and borne are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Born has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb. It means to be expelled from a uterus following the rupture of the amniotic sac and the beginning of labor pains. These pains and the sac breakage indicating to the female that it’s time to push the baby, or babies, out of her body so they can being breathing on their own.
  • As an adjective, it describes someone who has talent in their genes. For example, a born athlete, or a born musician.
  • As an adjective, when used hyphenated with a location, it describes someone with local roots since the beginning of his/life: Houston-born, Tennessee-born.
  • As a past participle of the verb bear, which means to bring forth, or head in a certain direction.  For example: Before it caught a disease, our family apple tree had born fruit for thirty years. In spring seasons, it bore flowers. In the late summers, it would bear fruit, I would climb its branches to get an afternoon snack. 

Borne is a verb. It means a person or thing being carried by something else.

For example, AIDS and Hepatitis are blood-borne viruses. Exposure of your tissues or bodily fluids to the bodily fluids of an infected person means being infected yourself.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Bjorn was born on a cold day in February. Living in a small village outside Stockholm, he became interested in diseases and blood borne illnesses from an early age.  


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