Here is a sentence from a CPE course book (The Erica James Collection (ebook): 5 Great Novels):

The trouble was that Jessica had been brought up by a strong, clear-minded and independent woman, and __________ with the expectation that she would be the same.

a) raised b) grown c) produced d) reared

My friend from the US said that he would choose "A" because it's more common, but it's an explanation I'm not satisfied with.

Having searched for a while, I found the same question asked but of no avail. Here it is :


Maybe the answer is obvious but I don't get it.I see only some excerpts from different dictionaries where is said that they USED TO BE different but now are completely interchangeable. I did the same as the author of the topic, answered "D", but the correct answer is "A". Maybe somebody can come up with something ,although there is no difference between "A" and "D" at all. Moreover if it is an old British course book and people tended to NOT use "raise" (which is the American version of "bring up") as a synonym for "bring up" back then, why "A" is supposed to be the correct alternative?


5 Answers 5


I agree with Robert Wells that language is not static, but always changing. However, I would disagree with both the answers by Robert Wells and by LawrenceC that "raised" should be preferred to "reared" in describing the process of bringing up, educating, and socializing human children. I particularly disagree with the comment by Lambie that "reared" is "positively Victorian". I aslo disagree with LawrenceC that "rear" implies any greater notion of duty than "raise" does.

While I have rarely heard people say 'I was reared in {place}", I have often heard people say "I reared my children by {method}". Moreover, I have often read accounts of "child rearing" and discussions of the best methods for "child rearing", rather more often I think, than of "child raising".

I would say that "rear" emphasizes the active efforts of parents or guardians to instruct and socialize children more than "raise" does, but aside from this nuance their meanings are the same, and either may be used. "Rear" is perhaps a bit more formal in US usage. I think it is more common and not particularly formal in UK usage.

Both are derived from an Old English word meaning "to lift up" ("rǣran" to raise; cognate with Gothic -"raisjan", Old Norse "reisa"), and their denotations are certainly exactly the same.

As for dictionary cites for "rear" as a verb:

  • Oxford learner's gives "to care for young children or animals until they are fully grown" as sense 1, and lists "raise" as a synonym.
  • Cambridge gives "to care for young children or animals until they are able to care for themselves".
  • Merriam-Webster gives "to bring to maturity or self-sufficiency usually through nurturing care" as sense 3 a (2)
  • Dictionary.com gives "to take care of and support up to maturity" as sense 1 (when used with an object).
  • vocabulary.com gives "bring up".
  • Longman gives " to look after a person or animal until they are fully grown" as sense 1
  • Collins gives "If you rear children, you take care of them until they are old enough to take care of themselves." as sense 4.
  • Lexico gives "Bring up and care for (a child) until they are fully grown." as sense 1, and lists bring up, care for, look after, nurture, and parent as synonyms.

None of these give any usage note or any indication of obsolescence for this sense of "rear"

This google Ngram shows that "raise children" is more common than "rear children", but the crossover in frequency (in the google books corpus) was around 1940, a bit more recent than "Victorian" times, but longer ago than I would have guessed. however this alternate Ngram shows that "child rearing" has been more common in the same corpus than "child raising" since the 1920s, and far more common since the 1960s.


It's a mistake to see language as static, it is constantly changing and evolving. While raised and reared may at one time have been totally equal, to my mind, in 2018 "raised" would be correct for humans, reared less so. Perhaps because of its association with horses rearing up on their hind legs?

I would never say reared about my children.

  • Well, it's your right to say whatever you desire. But I think you didn't get the point. They were not equal in 2005 and before that and now they are equal. You could find the confirmation in any dictionary.
    – Dmitrii
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 10:20
  • Dictionaries don't count for these types of questions for native speakers. reared is positively VIctorian. Unless, of course, you are rearing chickens or puppies or whatever. What matters is what people say. I have never heard anyone say: I was reared in [some place].
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 18:08

English has many words that have the same meaning technically (denotation) but have different moods or subtexts (connotation).

Rear is used for animals or situations where you are fulfilling a duty or being particularly intentional. It has the "mood" of "hard work." In "olden times" and/or traditional rural settings people were expected to have children and have as many as possible, so rear might be used. And it's not impossible for the duty above to be one of propagating morals. So rearing your children to be strong works.

At least one online definition I found by searching Google listed "raise upright" as a meaning - meaning to raise in a morally upstanding manner.

Raise doesn't have that same implication of "duty" by itself.


Grew up on a dairy in the fifties and early sixties. "Rearing a child" was common in that rural setting. Actually no different than rearing a cow, you protect, feed, care for and train. At least cows pay you back. :-)


Animals are raised, crops are raised all with the intention of serving a purpose but human beings are reared to be socialized to follow cultural more ways and adhere to certain rules and regulations that separate them from food crops and dumb animals.

Children are more than just physically cared for and kept safe by the parents to adulthood. They are also taught how to think and fit into society. This is something that doesn't take place in raising animals for food and pets or raising crops for consumption.

  • This is not normal usage. Livestock animals are reared and children are raised. Describing a child as reared is usually an insult or a ironic reference to the person's animal behaviour.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 7:35

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