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Origin of burdened


  1. that which is carried; load: a horse's burden of rider and pack.
  2. that which is borne with difficulty; obligation; onus: the burden of leadership.
  3. Nautical.
    1. the weight of a ship's cargo.
    2. the carrying capacity of a ship.
  4. Mining. overburden(def 3).
  5. Metallurgy. the minerals charged into a blast furnace or steelmaking furnace.
  6. Accounting. overhead(def 6).
verb (used with object)
  1. to load heavily.
  2. to load oppressively; trouble.

Origin of burden

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

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Synonym study

1. See load.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for burdened

loaded, taxed, laden

Examples from the Web for burdened

Contemporary Examples of burdened

Historical Examples of burdened

  • I would sooner you had killed me than burdened my soul with your death.


    William J. Locke

  • He is not to be burdened for ever with the sense of his sins.


    James Anthony Froude

  • At the next moment there was the sound from without of burdened footsteps.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • Especially were they burdened with books on economics and political science.

    Herbert Hoover

    Vernon Kellogg

  • The conscience of to-day is burdened with a load well-nigh unbearable.

    Another Sheaf

    John Galsworthy

British Dictionary definitions for burdened


  1. something that is carried; load
  2. something that is exacting, oppressive, or difficult to bearthe burden of responsibility Related adjective: onerous
  3. nautical
    1. the cargo capacity of a ship
    2. the weight of a ship's cargo
verb (tr)
  1. (sometimes foll by up) to put or impose a burden on; load
  2. 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


  1. a line of words recurring at the end of each verse of a ballad or similar song; chorus or refrain
  2. the principal or recurrent theme of a speech, book, etc
  3. 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 burdened



"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.



"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