Surveyors and sailors use the term "bearing". What is its origin and how did it come to mean (generally) a direction?
It comes from "to carry," the Old English, I think, beran. The salient feature of carriage is the cargo, that a thing is held, but an essential part of the meaning is also the movement, that a thing is carried from one place to another. So, in the sense that one's bearingsSimilarly, one might have an elegant bearing, or carriage; that is, deportment. It's a comment on the posture and/or stride.
Frank Pierce
Another more likely source is the nautical use of the verb "to bear" as in "The other ship bears (or bore)down on us" or "she bears two points off our port quarter."

Therefore, her BEARing would be approximately 330 degrees relative.

Thanks for your responses. Today, I came across a book on the etymology of nautical terms, and it related "bearing" to "bahr", which is alleged to be Sanskrit for "to move". Any thoughts? Like I know something about Sanskrit?

Bud Salyer

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