I found the following sentence in today's New York Times.

Inaction and delays by New York as storm bore down. The city's decision not to declare a snow emergency, transit officials' delay in invoking a full-scale emergency plan and a seemingly late bid for help may face scrutiny.

What does the "storm bore down" mean? Does it mean the "storm was pressed down"? Please teach me.

  • 4
    What the current answers are trying to say is that bore here is used as the past tense of the verb bear. It is not the verb that means to drill into something. To "bear down on something" means to prepare to attack (襲う) it.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 31, 2010 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


TheFreeDictionary defines it as:

To advance in a threatening manner: The ship bore down on our canoe.

There are many other meanings of the phrase, such as those given by Hellion, but this is the one I believe was intended.

  • Hellion and mmyers. Thank you very much for your inputs. It was hard for a foreign, English learner to get the exact meaning of the phrase like this. I was unable to find the pertinent answer from conventional English-Japanese dictionaries at my hand.This site is really helpful. Commented Dec 30, 2010 at 22:42

According to dictionary.com , "bear down" in a nautical sense means to "approach from the windward direction", which makes perfect sense when applied to a storm. Other uses include "to press or weigh down" and "to strive harder or intensify one's efforts", both of which can also be somewhat applied to a storm: it was approaching, its effects were pressing down on the city (causing outages, delays, accidents, and so forth) and its effects were intensifying as it approached.

(Edit: as MMyers also points out, "to bear down on (something)" generally has the meaning of approaching 'in a threatening manner', which is also very appropriate here.)

In a nutshell, then, the opening sentence from the NYTimes implies that officials could see the storm coming, knew that it was going to be bad, and didn't do enough or act quickly enough in what they did do about it.

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