burden

1
[bur-dn]

noun

verb (used with object)

to load heavily.
to load oppressively; trouble.

Origin of burden

1
before 1000; Middle English, variant of burthen, Old English byrthen; akin to German Bürde, Gothic baurthei; see bear1
Related formsbur·den·er, nounbur·den·less, adjective

Synonyms for burden

Synonym study

1. See load.

burden

2
[bur-dn]

noun

the main point, message, or idea.
Music. the refrain or recurring chorus of a song.

Origin of burden

2
1275–1325; Middle English bordoun, burdoun < Old French bourdon droning sound, instrument making such a sound

Synonyms for burden

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


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British Dictionary definitions for burden

burden

1

noun

something that is carried; load
something that is exacting, oppressive, or difficult to bearthe burden of responsibility Related adjective: onerous
nautical
  1. the cargo capacity of a ship
  2. the weight of a ship's cargo

verb (tr)

(sometimes foll by up) to put or impose a burden on; load
to weigh down; oppressthe old woman was burdened with cares

Word Origin for burden

Old English byrthen; related to beran to bear 1, Old Frisian berthene burden, Old High German burdin

burden

2

noun

a line of words recurring at the end of each verse of a ballad or similar song; chorus or refrain
the principal or recurrent theme of a speech, book, etc
another word for bourdon

Word Origin for burden

C16: from Old French bourdon bass horn, droning sound, of imitative origin
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 burden
n.1

"a load," Old English byrðen "a load, weight, charge, duty;" also "a child;" from Proto-Germanic *burthinjo- "that which is borne" (cf. Old Norse byrðr, Old Saxon burthinnia, German bürde, Gothic baurþei), from PIE root *bher- (1) "to bear, to carry; give birth" (see infer).

The shift from -th- to -d- took place beginning 12c. (cf. murder). Archaic burthen is occasionally retained for the specific sense of "capacity of a ship." Burden of proof is recorded from 1590s.

n.2

"leading idea," 1640s, a figurative use from earlier sense "refrain or chorus of a song," 1590s, originally "bass accompaniment to music" (late 14c.), from Old French bordon "bumble-bee, drone," or directly from Medieval Latin burdonom "drone, drone bass" (source of French bourdon, Spanish bordon, Portuguese bordão, Italian bordone), of echoic origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper