or bourne

[bawrn, bohrn]

noun Scot. and North England.


[bawrn, bohrn, boo rn]

noun Archaic.

a bound; limit.
destination; goal.
realm; domain.

Origin of bourn

1515–25; earlier borne < Middle French, Old French, originally a Picard form of bodne; see bound3
Related formsbourn·less, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bourn

Historical Examples of bourn

British Dictionary definitions for bourn




noun archaic

a destination; goal
a boundary

Word Origin for bourn

C16: from Old French borne; see bound ³




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

Word Origin for bourn

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