Pore Over vs. Pour Over

pore over chalkboard

Since pour is a common word and sounds identical to pore, many English speakers use the verb pour in the verb phrase pore over meaning “to meditate or ponder intently.” However, looking closely at their meanings, the correct choice becomes apparent.

When talking about carefully reading books, wills, or other documents, pore is the verb that you’re looking for. Pore means “to read or study with great attention.” You pore over books. Pour, on the other hand, means “to send flowing or falling,” as in He poured a cup of coffee.

Pore can also refer to a tiny opening, like the pores on your skin, though this pore has a different etymological root. Recent coffee fads may be contributing the increased use of pour over, which also refers to a coffee-brewing technique imported from Japan that entails pouring water over freshly ground coffee. This New York Times article from 2011 clarifies that pour over “is the accepted term” for the delicate act of pouring.

Regardless of how you take your coffee, we hope you’re not pouring anything when you’re poring over an old manuscript, because that might lead to getting coffee stains on a priceless relic.

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