Poring over the meaning of “pore over”

You learn something new every day. For example, quite by accident, I learned last night that when you are going through loads of something looking for information you are actually “poring” through that stuff.

That’s right, you’re not “pouring” over it or “pouring” through it. So stop typing it that way. (I shall endeavor to keep the newspaper from typing it that way too.)

The verb “pore,” according to our Associated Press-sanctioned Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition, means “to gaze intently” or “to read through carefuly” or “to think deeply and thoroughly.”

It is often paired with the preposition “over,” though “through” is also acceptable.

It comes from the Middle English “poren,” according to that dictionary, though the OED lists “poore,” “poure,” “pouri,” “power” as its Middle English forms.

The word’s true origins are unknown, though it could be related to the verb “pire,” which means the same thing and is comparable to the Low German “piren.”

The word is not, however, related to the noun “pore,” which comes to English from Middle French at the end of the 13th century, which in turn comes from the Latin “porus.”

The verb “pour,” for its part, is completely unreleated any of these. It comes from, maybe, Middle French’s “purer,” meaning to decant.

And let’s not forget the adjective and noun “poor.” That comes from the Middle English “pawre” and various other forms. The word’s origins are Anglo-Norman in “pover,” “pore,” “povere,” “poevere” and “puvre” and Old French in “povre.”

As to our original purpose, DailyWritingTips [offers this memory device to pore over](http://www.dailywritingtips.com/poring-over-pore-and-pour/):

>Lore is learning, knowledge, doctrine. To become well-versed in computer lore or the lore of magic, or the lore of religion, one must pore over learned tomes.

4 Replies to “Poring over the meaning of “pore over””

  1. I agree that it may be originating in the indoeuropean. The abstract linguistic ties with the phonetics to the idea of attention and thinking. I was surprised “ponder” wasn’t in there. Always funny how we develop these homophones!

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