Wear - weir - we're

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The proper noun Wear, the common noun weir and the contraction we're form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these. They are all pronounced IPA: /wiːr/.

  • Wear in this pronunciation (the same four letters, as a common noun, can be pronounced 'ware': see ware and wear (homophones)) is an element in a number of place-names, all derived from the River Wear, which rises in the east Pennines and flows through County Durham. The village of Wearhead marks where the Killhope Burn and the Burnhope Burn meet to form the river, which then flows eastwards through the valley of Weardale, and then the towns of Bishop Auckland, Durham and Chester-le-Street until it flows into the North Sea at Wearmouth, formerly the site of the monasteries of St Peter at Monkwearmouth and St Paul at Jarrow. Monkwearmouth is now a district of the city of Sunderland. The river has also given its name to the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, instituted in 1974 under the Local Government Act of 1972 and abolished in 1986, other than as a convenience in geographical description and certain ceremonial functions.
  • A weir is a small-scale dam designed to hold back water in a river or similar watercourse. They are traditionally associated with water-mills, where they hold back water in a mill-pond with sufficient head of water to power the mill with a predictable flow. They have a similar function in navigable rivers, where they have to be fitted with locks to allow vessels to pass the obstruction.
    • The surname Weir, which is a toponym, has been borne by
      • Major Weir (1599-1670), a notorious warlock and Satanist in seventeenth century Edinburgh who was garrotted before being burned. (An ape is named after him in 'Wandering Willie's Tale', a supernatural short story embedded in Sir Walter Scott's novel Redgauntlet (1824).
      • Weir of Hermiston is an unfinished novel (1896) by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), whose eponym is the title of the hero's father, Adam Weir, Lord Hermiston, the Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland, a cruel 'hanging judge'. (He is based on the real Robert Macqueen, Lord Braxfield (1722–99), who was equated with England's most notorious hanging judge, George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys (1648-89), and called 'the Jeffrey of Scotland'.)
  • we're is a normal contraction of we are. As a contraction, it is not encouraged in formal academic writing.