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"parts of a machine which 'bear' the friction," 1791, from present participle of bear (v.). Meaning "direction from a point of reference" is from 1630s; to take (one's) bearings is from 1711.
"carrying of oneself, deportment," mid-13c., verbal noun from bear (v.). Mechanical sense of "part of a machine that bears the friction" is from 1791.