"This laptop is loaded to bear"

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Ewan Spence, "Apple Leak Reveals Radical New MacBook Pro", Forbes 5/4/2020:

Apple may finally be getting round to updating the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel’s tenth generation processors. The good news is that the MacOS powered laptop going to get a bucketload of extra power.[…]

This laptop is loaded to bear in terms of memory and storage as well. The current 13-inch MacBook Pro can be upgraded to 16 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage, so we’re looking at a doubling of the core specs.

The need for heavy weaponry in bear hunting is no longer part of most English-speakers' life experience, and so some sort of allusion to bearing heavy loads seems to be the most accessible interpretation of the idiom — although that requires changing for to to, and assuming an unexpressed object.

I noted an earlier example a couple of years ago ("'Loaded to bear?'", 6/6/2018. The re-interpreted idiom is reasonably common, e.g.:

[link] it takes two to tango and the Falcons aren’t exactly loaded to bear with draft capital
[link] Neo Tilted will eat you alive if you aren’t loaded to bear
[link] the growing intensity of horizontal well programs demands that the next wave of fracturing technology come loaded to bear with sensors and real-time data streaming capabilities.
[link] There is some brief action towards the end in the form of She-Hulk and Hellcat smashing up the anti-mutant "protestors" who came loaded to bear

There's a discussion of the idiom from 2007 in the WordReference forums, where someone from France asks the logical question, "What do 'loaded for bear' mean here? Does it mean something like fully loaded?"


  1. SlideSF said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 12:23 pm

    "Loaded to bear" seems like an oddly recursive expression. If a thing is loaded, it is already bearing something.

  2. cervantes said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 1:32 pm

    Not hard. If you're hunting bears you need powerful ammo. That's what it means, as opposed to loaded for turkey.

  3. Margaret H said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 1:38 pm

    I've never heard this expression, but it seems to me that "bear" is being used as a noun to mean "full capacity" (i.e, as much as it can bear).

  4. cameron said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 2:55 pm

    The confusion is with the usage in construction, where you'll often hear terms like "load-bearing wall".

  5. Keith said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 3:50 pm

    IMO, it should be "going loaded for bear".

    But if you get lucky, and you get your prey, then you certainly will have a load to bear.

  6. Keith B said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 4:30 pm

    And a load of bear to eat.

  7. KevinM said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 4:49 pm

    Apple will be criticized for this, but I guess it's just their cross for bear.

  8. Daniel Barkalow said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 6:29 pm

    I wonder if there's an interpretation parallel to "easy to open". You couldn't "bear arms" if they weren't loaded, or if they only had enough ammunition to be dangerous without being capable of taking military action, so they could be "loaded to bear" if they were battle-ready.

  9. Sean Richardson said,

    May 4, 2020 @ 9:28 pm

    I'm reminded here of seeing "reign in" for "rein in". Considering that the meaning of the latter will always be related to governance in some way, the confusion is easy to understand. For a figurative sense the transfer is remarkably direct from the original domain of pulling on reins to get a horse to hold up a little (or a lot). But since horseless carriages took over the roads, most won't have the domain knowledge to recognize that the usual usage is figurative.

  10. Philip Taylor said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 6:39 am

    I am not a gun owner, nor would I wish to be, but it seems to me that a weapon that could be "loaded for snipe" (say) could not at some other time be "loaded for bear", since the latter implies a far greater calibre. So what sort of weapon could at one time be "loaded for bear" and at another time, loaded for <something considerably less powerful and dangerous> ?

  11. ffrancis said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 6:49 am

    Probably a shotgun which could be loaded with relatively fine shot for birds or with a slug (ball) for large animals.

  12. ajay said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 7:53 am

    IMO, it should be "going loaded for bear".
    But if you get lucky, and you get your prey, then you certainly will have a load to bear.

    The sensible big game hunter will have some sort of off-road vehicle. Then he merely has to address the problem of how to get his quarry into the back of it. Still, I'd rather have a bear to load than a load to bear.

    ffrancis: yes. A 12-bore shotgun firing solid slugs will be adequate for bear.

  13. Robert Coren said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 9:06 am

    @KevinM: Forbear!

    @Sean Richardson: More often than "reign in" I see "given free reign". The latter makes sense of a sort, and as you say most people these days don't have much if any experience in controlling horses. But it still bothers me when I see it.

  14. Bloix said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 10:24 am


    The idea is that instead of loading your shotgun with shot, you will load it with a full-bore slug – which is a massive piece of solid lead.

    This Field-and-Stream article explains what you need to be loaded for bear (the assumption is that you will not be hunting, you will be concerned for personal safety while in backwoods Alaska):

    The gun should be a reliable 12 gauge pump with a 18 ½ to 20 inch barrel …

    [W]hile the standard magazine-full of four shells should be enough, a magazine extension might make you feel better…

    For ammunition, a fullbore slug like a Foster-style or a Brenneke is the best choice."


    This wikipedia article explains that a shotgun loaded with a full-bore slug "has been termed as 'the poor man's elephant gun' and it remains the favored gun of choice for defense against the largest of Grizzly bears by forestry officials in Alaska."


    These articles assume that the weapon is for the purpose of self-defense, not hunting, but if you go to the link that Mark provides to his June 2018 post, you'll see that I included in the comments some quotes from late 19th-early 20th c sources from the American West that used "I was loaded for bear" and "we were loaded for bear" in hunting narratives.

    That usage gives rise to the modern idiom, which means – I have the intention and the means to confront and defeat anyone or anything in my way, no matter how powerful or intimidating.

  15. Cervantes said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 4:11 pm

    Right. I can't believe that nobody read my comment and we had to put up with this entire thread. Loaded for bear means you have the correct ammunition in your rifle to kill bears. Not the least doubt about it. Bear in this context is a noun meaning a kind of big, powerful animal, not a verb.

  16. Andrew Usher said,

    May 5, 2020 @ 6:20 pm

    As just stated, it would be a shotgun, not a rifle, if the expression referred to the weapon – but as Bloix just said, the literal use was generally something like 'we are loaded for bear', not describing the particular gun. (Of course a rifle can also be used against bear, but is only loaded one way.)

    Although not likely the explanation here, 'loaded to bear' could have the same literal meaning if read as 'loaded up to bear' i.e. for anything 'up to' bears.

    The apparently understood sense 'loaded to bear loads' is not actually redundant, though it would sound odd that way.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  17. Jen in Edinburgh said,

    May 6, 2020 @ 3:32 am

    There's also the OED's meaning 34, 'Of a piece of artillery: to be placed or situated so as to cover a target; to be in position for discharging shot effectively (on or upon a target)', which has left the phrases 'bring to bear' and 'come to bear'.

    That would have been my first guess, although I think it's actually range that you adjust the aim for *after* loading (and my default idea of artillery is ships' cannon c. 1800!).

  18. Bloix said,

    May 6, 2020 @ 10:20 am

    Cervantes – grizzlies are the largest, fiercest, most dangerous animal that any hunter or explorer in North America could ever encounter. So "I'm loaded for bear" came to mean "I'm ready for anything."

    Here's an example of a literal usage, from the Oregon Sportsman magazine, 1917 (available on Google books): "[D]eer, elk, and gray wolves abounded, in more or less numbers, and we went loaded for bear, for bear was what we wanted …"

    And a figurative use from the same era, from a magazine called The Insurance Field, 1918: "The strategy of selling is a thing to be learned … There's satisfaction in going into a fight loaded for bear, but there's no use battling bear with bird shot."

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