from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something that is carried.
  • n. Something that is emotionally difficult to bear.
  • n. A source of great worry or stress; weight: The burden of economic sacrifice rests on the workers of the plant.
  • n. A responsibility or duty: The burden of organizing the campaign fell to me.
  • n. Nautical The amount of cargo that a vessel can carry.
  • n. Nautical The weight of the cargo carried by a vessel at one time.
  • n. The amount of a disease-causing entity present in an organism.
  • transitive v. To weigh down; oppress.
  • transitive v. To load or overload.
  • n. A principal or recurring idea; a theme: "The burden of what he said was to defend enthusiastically the conservative aristocracy” ( J.A. Froude). See Synonyms at substance.
  • n. Music The chorus or refrain of a composition, especially of a 15th-century carol.
  • n. Music A drone, as of a bagpipe or pedal point.
  • n. Archaic Music The bass accompaniment to a song.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A heavy load.
  • n. A responsibility, onus.
  • n. A cause of worry.
  • n. A phrase or theme that recurs at the end of each verse in a folk song or ballad; the drone of a bagpipe.
  • n. Theme, core idea.
  • v. To encumber with a burden (in any of the noun senses of the word).
  • n. A club (weapon).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is borne or carried; a load.
  • n. That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome, or oppressive.
  • n. The capacity of a vessel, or the weight of cargo that she will carry.
  • n. The tops or heads of stream-work which lie over the stream of tin.
  • n. The proportion of ore and flux to fuel, in the charge of a blast furnace.
  • n. A fixed quantity of certain commodities.
  • n. A birth.
  • n. The verse repeated in a song, or the return of the theme at the end of each stanza; the chorus; refrain. Hence: That which is often repeated or which is dwelt upon; the main topic.
  • n. The drone of a bagpipe.
  • n. A club.
  • transitive v. To encumber with weight (literal or figurative); to lay a heavy load upon; to load.
  • transitive v. To oppress with anything grievous or trying; to overload.
  • transitive v. To impose, as a load or burden; to lay or place as a burden (something heavy or objectionable).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To load; lay a heavy load on; encumber with weight.
  • Hence Figuratively, to load; oppress with anything which is borne with difficulty or trouble; surcharge: as, to burden a nation with taxes; to burden the memory with details.
  • To lay or impose upon one, as a load, burden, or charge.
  • n. That which is borne or carried; a load.
  • n. Hence That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome, or oppressive; also, an incumbrance of any kind.
  • n. In England, a quantity of certain commodities: as, a burden of gad-steel (that is, 120 or 180 pounds).
  • n. The capacity of a ship; the quantity or number of tons of freight a vessel will carry: as, a ship of 600 tons burden.
  • n. In mining, the tops or heads of stream-work, overlying the stream of tin, and needing to be first cleansed.
  • n. The charge of a blast-furnace.
  • n. The act of bearing children; a birth.
  • n. The bass in music.
  • n. In music: The refrain or recurring chorus at the end of the stanzas of a ballad or song; a refrain.
  • n. The drone of a bagpipe. The song to which a dance is danced when there are no instruments.
  • n. That which is often repeated; a subject on which one dwells; the main topic: as, this subject was the burden of all his talk.
  • n. A club.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. weight down with a load
  • n. an onerous or difficult concern
  • n. the central idea that is expanded in a document or discourse
  • n. the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work
  • n. weight to be borne or conveyed
  • v. impose a task upon, assign a responsibility to


Middle English, from Old English byrthen; see bher-1 in Indo-European roots.
Variant of bourdon.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English byrþen. (Wiktionary)
See burdon. (Wiktionary)



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