• synonyms


or bourne

[bawrn, bohrn]
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noun Scot. and North England.
  1. burn2.


[bawrn, bohrn, boo rn]
noun Archaic.
  1. a bound; limit.
  2. destination; goal.
  3. realm; domain.

Origin of bourn2

1515–25; earlier borne < Middle French, Old French, originally a Picard form of bodne; see bound3
Related formsbourn·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bourn

Historical Examples

  • Bourn, or bourne, is a poetical expression for bound or boundary.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms

    James Champlin Fernald

  • The blue flowers on the green, the lilacs in Widow Bourn's garden.

    The Debatable Land

    Arthur Colton

  • Then there are two Hurstbourns, one above and one below this village of Bourn.

    Rural Rides

    William Cobbett

  • The little village of Bourn, therefore, takes its name from its situation.

    Rural Rides

    William Cobbett

  • Three sabbath-schools had been previously established by Mr. Bourn.

British Dictionary definitions for bourn



noun archaic
  1. a destination; goal
  2. a boundary

Word Origin

C16: from Old French borne; see bound ³


  1. mainly Southern English a stream, esp an intermittent one in chalk areasCompare burn 2

Word Origin

C16: from Old French bodne limit; see bound ³
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bourn


also bourne, "small stream," especially of the winter torrents of the chalk downs, Old English brunna, burna "brook, stream," from Proto-Germanic *brunnoz "spring, fountain" (cf. Old High German brunno, Old Norse brunnr, Old Frisian burna, German Brunnen "fountain," Gothis brunna "well"), ultimately from PIE root *bhreue- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn" (see brew (v.)).


"destination," 1520s, from French borne, apparently a variant of bodne (see bound (n.)). Used by Shakespeare in Hamlet's soliloquy (1602), from which it entered into English poetic speech. He meant it probably in the correct sense of "boundary," but it has been taken to mean "goal" (Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold) or sometimes "realm" (Keats).

The dread of something after death, The vndiscouered Countrey; from whose Borne No Traueller returnes. ["Hamlet" III.i.79]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper