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See more synonyms for onus on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural o·nus·es.
  1. a difficult or disagreeable obligation, task, burden, etc.
  2. burden of proof.Compare onus probandi.
  3. blame or responsibility.
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Origin of onus

1630–40; < Latin: load, burden

Synonyms for onus

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onus probandi

[oh-noo s proh-bahn-dee; English oh-nuh s proh-ban-dahy, -dee]
noun Latin.
  1. the burden of proof.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for onus

load, duty, encumbrance, weight, culpability, tax, millstone, incubus, stigma, blot, charge, blur, responsibility, stain, oppression, odium, slur, brand, spot, liability

Examples from the Web for onus

Contemporary Examples of onus

Historical Examples of onus

  • It threw upon the Senate the onus of repairing the defects of the bill.

  • Any tyro in the logics will tell thee that the onus of proving lies with the accuser.

  • At all events the onus of proof rests with those who assert it is imponderable.

    Aether and Gravitation

    William George Hooper

  • Let it be understood by such as are aware of what has been, that I bear the onus of the rupture.


    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • The onus of speech seemed to rest with him, and he accepted it.

    The Yellow House

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

British Dictionary definitions for onus


noun plural onuses
  1. a responsibility, task, or burden
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Word Origin for onus

C17: from Latin: burden

onus probandi

  1. law the Latin phrase for burden of proof
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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 onus


1640s, from Latin onus "load, burden," figuratively "tax, expense; trouble, difficulty," from PIE *en-es- "burden" (cf. Sanskrit anah "cart, wagon"). Hence legal Latin onus probandi (1722), literally "burden of proving."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper