No, Mr. Rewrite wasn't borne yesterday

An article about an NFL team's draft strategy said, "It's a philosophy borne out of necessity." This caused a rare double spit-take as Mr. Rewrite guzzled his morning coffee.

First, the word in this case should be born, not borne. Per Merriam-Webster OnLine, born in this case means "deriving or resulting from."

Second, writers should avoid "born out of" -- use "born of" instead -- unless referring to "born out of wedlock." This advice comes from Paul Brians' excellent book Common Errors in English Usage. Mr. Rewrite isn't sure of the grammar or usage reasoning behind this rule, but the "out" certainly seems redundant when he looks at the phrase.

Anyway, there's a lot more to borne/born than Mr. Rewrite wanted to deal with as the Celtics played a game seven. Both are past participles of the verb bear. According to Bryan A. Garner (cue angelic chorus), borne is used for general purposes such as "the cost is borne by the taxpayers." If you bear something in mind, it was borne in mind. Born is used in the fixed passive verb "to be born."

For an explanation that's much more coherent than Mr. Rewrite attempts to provide here, consult The Columbia Guide to Standard American English.

Meanwhile, follow these links to see who among those paid to know better didn't get the memo on borne/born and born of/born out of.

Thanks to Tom in Texas for sharing this link to pictures featuring misspelled signs held by people trying to make political points. Don't miss it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this sentence correct?

Whether the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision, which requires an individual to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, is borne of a constitutionally-enumerated power, is the core issue in this case.