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(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part I, Aberfan, chapter 9 - 10)

(Chapter 9)

And even though they are working in such close proximity, no one notice the sponge drop to the floor as William grips the edge of the table. But Betty does look up in time to see him (William) put both hands over his ears, eyes tight shut. He (William) takes a step back from the table. His head hits the wall, his knees crumple, and he slides down until he is squatting on the floor.

(Chapter 10)

... William feels his spine against the cold wall, the floor bearing into his bony backside.

I take bearing to be a typo. It has to be "the floor boring into his bony backside" in my opinion, right?

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    "bore" means making a hole. How would the floor do that?
    – Barmar
    Apr 22 at 14:00
  • "Boring into" could be slightly figurative... Apr 22 at 20:42

3 Answers 3

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There is the expression really bear into it which means "to exert considerable force".

If you take your open-end wrench, place it on the hex-head bolt, and really bear into it, you can cause the head of the bolt to sink several millimeters into the surface of the wood.

Trained in shiatsu technique, she really bears into it when massaging the shoulder muscles.

And into can mean "hard against":

The trucker's foot slipped and the flatbed smashed into the loading dock.

So "bearing into" could be understood as "exerting pressure against".

What makes the original sentence a bit odd is that the floor is flat and motionless and, of course, below him. It is his own weight that is pressing the bones of his backside against the floor. But he has just been overcome and it could well be that the author is revealing a kind of perceptual disorientation on his part. He feels things impinging upon his sensibilities.

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One of the meanings of "to bear" is "to press." https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bear

"the floor bearing into his bony backside" can be taken to mean "the floor pressing into his bony buttocks."

The character must have sit down during the part left out of the quote, or his buttocks shouldn't be on the ground if he is just squatting.

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It's not necessarily a typo.

I don't recognise the usage or the phrasal verb, but the floor is "bearing" his weight. It could just be a odd choice of phrasing by the author. I think the context makes the meaning clear. You can imagine how he feels, squatting on the cold floor against the cold wall

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    Also, a flat surface can't 'bore into' something. Apr 22 at 8:08
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    I don't think it is because the floor is bearing or carrying the weight - I think the image here is 'bearing' in the sense of traviling - eg 'the ship is bearing north-west'. So, the floor is 'heading into his backside', figuratively.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Apr 22 at 8:12
  • @j4nd3r53n. I strongly disagree. From William's perspective, the floor is pushing against his back. (and neither William or the floor are moving at this point, either with respect to the room or each other)
    – RLH
    Apr 22 at 22:15

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