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What is the difference between born and borne. Can anyone cite any solid examples?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

'Born' means to be brought into the world, e.g. as a baby.

I was born at an early age.

'Borne' is listed in the OED as meaning carried, sustained, or endured. Nowadays it mostly commonly seen in phrases like 'airborne', e.g.

The virus is airborne.

In the 'endured' sense:

This terrible customer service cannot be borne!

There is also a similar word, bourne: this has a totally different meaning, namely, a small stream.

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"Borne" would be derived from "to bear", I guess. You bear a physical load literally or an emotional burden figuratively. –  ijw Jan 31 '11 at 19:35
1  
—Usage note Since the latter part of the 18th century, a distinction has been made between born and borne as past participles of the verb bear 1 . Borne is the past participle in all senses that do not refer to physical birth: The wheatfields have borne abundantly this year. Judges have always borne a burden of responsibility. Borne is also the participle when the sense is “to bring forth (young)” and the focus is on the mother rather than on the child. In such cases, borne is preceded by a form of have or followed by by: Anna had borne a son the previous year. –  gpr Jan 31 '11 at 21:30
    
... and following on: Two children borne by her earlier were already grown. When the focus is on the offspring or on something brought forth as if by birth, born is the standard spelling, and it occurs only in passive constructions: My friend was born in Ohio. No children have been born at the South Pole. A strange desire was born of the tragic experience. Born is also an adjective meaning “by birth,” “innate,” or “native”: born free; a born troublemaker; Mexican-born. –  gpr Jan 31 '11 at 21:30
    
How about this: "NewACME inc. is a company born out of the ACME Federation of Widget Makers." Should that be born or borne? –  Charles Roper Feb 1 '11 at 6:47
    
Born, because you have used 'out of'. Borne is used in a mother/offspring context because the mother 'bears the burden' of the child. –  user3444 Feb 1 '11 at 8:56

They are both past participles of to bear. However, according to, for example, this source:

Thanks to the vagaries of English spelling, bear has two past participles: born and borne. Traditionally, born is used only in passive constructions referring to birth: I was born in Chicago. For all other uses, including active constructions referring to birth, borne is the standard form: She has borne both her children at home. I have borne his insolence with the patience of a saint.

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