“Bored with,” or “bored of”?

By Maeve Maddox

Reader Anton Kelly wonders about the “bored of” construction being used on many sites instead of standard “bored with.”

Here are some examples of nonstandard usage on the web:

Is Robert Gibbs Getting Bored Of Being Press Secretary?

Nick Cannon ‘Bored of Being Called Mr. Mariah Carey’

Do dogs get bored of the same foods?

Bored of your desktop wallpaper?

I’m bored of Mourinho, says Ranieri

Bored of Beefeaters? Try London’s green trends tour

One contributing factor is a fondness for punning “bored” with “board” in the term “Board of Education.” There’s a 1936 Our Gang movie short with the title “Bored of Education,” and a 1946 Little Lulu cartoon with the same title. More recently, the group Brooklyn Academy has released a CD called “Bored of Education.”

Along the same punning lines, there’s an Australian website called “Bored of Studies.” Its function is to provide help for students studying for a state exam offered by the New South Wales Board of Studies.

Another pun that has contributed to the “bored of” virus is the title of a parody of The Lord of the Rings: Bored of the Rings, a 1969 paperback novel by Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney.

The internet is altering English at a tremendous rate. This process of change is accelerated by the shallow teaching of English in the schools. When, as a result of ignorance or wit, a nonstandard usage is duplicated on popular sites, its constant repetition makes it familiar. In time, familiarity paves the way for acceptance.

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14 Responses to ““Bored with,” or “bored of”?”

  • AmaT

    The Internet altering of the English language is alarming. I exhort my fellow writers and English teachers to pursue literacy as we continue to teach, model, and when necessary, correct to keep English elegant and communication educated.

  • Maeve Maddox

    AmaT,
    Many school children do not get enough writing practice because teachers with large class loads do not have enough time to handle frequent composition assignments. You and other English teachers may find my latest article at http://www.AmericanEnglishDoctor.com of interest. It’s about the use of dictation exercises as a means of addressing common errors of usage and spelling.

  • AmaT

    Thank you for the link, Maeve. It looks like the site will be very helpful and interesting.

  • peter

    hmmm Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary says: “…He was getting bored with/of doing the same thing every day.” You can’t stop it…

  • venqax

    That’s a relief. I don’t have to get upset of people saying bored of anymore. I think I can deal of that. But, I think it is just temporary.

    “On” is becoming the only preposition and an all-purpose utility word. I want info on writing. I want to write a book on writing. See.. the words *about* and *regarding* are unncessary already. Unless you are “going on about” the subject, which could just as easily be “going on on” it. Soon. Very soon. They will get bored on English. They will just learn on history and on math at– or on–school. Who really needs to know of or on grammar, anyway? As long as they understand what you are talking on. We’ll all agree on this. Apparently, all we need is a dictionary to go along on it.

  • nicola costa

    smiley or smiling?
    in my dictionary from 1988, there is no entry for “smiley”. yet the OED online now has an entry that not only states it is a noun ( emoticon) but also an adjective ( a beautiful smiley face)
    any thoughts?

  • Jules

    Yeah, I’m utterly sick with it.

    What on earth is wrong with “bored of”? If someone can give me a REALLY good reason (based on the purpose of language, which is to understand each other’s meaning) I’ll pay attention. So far all I’ve heard/read is pseudo-intellectual snobbery.

  • justin

    I’m with (or is it of?) Jules. People act as if the English language hasn’t evolved over the course of hundreds of years. And there have always been traditionalists who wanted to keep intact the version that they grew up with. But changes in culture, technology, politics, etc. have often made the language evolve to reflect the everchanging world that we live in. By it’s very nature, English is a language in flux, and will always be.

  • Kenny

    I often find helpful tips on this site. But this is scraping for content.

    Oxford’s corpus shows that “bored of” is used twice as much as “bored with” or “bored by.” Although it is still not reccomended to use it in formal English.

    You are claiming that this huge difference in usage stems from a bit of wordplay? Do you have anything to back that up?

  • Dee

    Well, I was seeing “bored of” so many times I had to come here to investigate. It sounds so strange to my ears and eyes. I always use “about” or “with.” That is how I grew up, but I understand things evolve. However, it will never sound right to me! I do say “a book on” something, etc., so I guess I shouldn’t grouch.

  • Helen

    My head says “bored with” But why do we say “tired of ” when we say “bored with”

  • Paul Dann

    I use “bored of” almost exclusively, and I disagree that it’s “wrong”. In general, I’m a strong advocate for sensible and consistent English, so I do not tolerate renderings such as “should of”, “two apple’s”, or “x works as good as y”, because accepting these would introduce exceptions and complexity into English grammar.

    However, the changes that are happening in English are related to its widespread adoption as an international language, and I think it’s silly to consider all change harmful. “Bored of” is a simplification in the language, and I welcome this, because no significant information is lost in the change, and the grammar is simplified. In the same way, I welcome the absorption of the word “whom” into “who”: the role of the word as an object in the sentence remains unambiguous because of its position, and it’s one less redundant rule of grammar to learn.

  • Alan Sears

    “Bored of” may be considered as technically correct, but it is one of those quite unnecessary changes almost certainly introduced through ignorance. It will eventually become established as a correct form, but in the meantime I find it has a certain lack of elegance.

  • Bill Young

    I can be bored with or bored by grammar but only a board of wood is correct.

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