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burden Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun an onerous or difficult concern
    load; incumbrance; onus; encumbrance.
    • the burden of responsibility
    • that's a load off my mind
  2. noun weight to be borne or conveyed
    load; loading.
  3. noun the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work
    essence; gist; effect; core.
  4. noun the central idea that is expanded in a document or discourse
  5. verb weight down with a load
    burthen; weight down; weight.
  6. verb impose a task upon, assign a responsibility to
    charge; saddle.
    • He charged her with cleaning up all the files over the weekend

Bur"den noun
OE. burden, burthen, birthen, birden, AS. byr&edh;en; akin to Icel. byr&edh;i, Dan. byrde, Sw. börda, G. bürde, OHG. burdi, Goth. baúrei, fr. the root of E. bear, AS. beran, Goth. bairan. *92. See 1st Bear.
  1. That which is borne or carried; a load.
    Plants with goodly burden bowing. Shak.
  2. That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome, or oppressive.
    Deaf, giddy, helpless, left alone, To all my friends a burden grown. Swift.
  3. The capacity of a vessel, or the weight of cargo that she will carry; as, a ship of a hundred tons burden.
  4. (Mining) The tops or heads of stream-work which lie over the stream of tin.
  5. (Metal.) The proportion of ore and flux to fuel, in the charge of a blast furnace. Raymond.
  6. A fixed quantity of certain commodities; as, a burden of gad steel, 120 pounds.
  7. A birth. Obs. & R. Shak. Syn. -- Burden, Load. A burden is, in the literal sense, a weight to be borne; a load is something laid upon us to be carried. Hence, when used figuratively, there is usually a difference between the two words. Our burdens may be of such a nature that we feel bound to bear them cheerfully or without complaint. They may arise from the nature of our situation; they may be allotments of Providence; they may be the consequences of our errors. What is upon us, as a load, we commonly carry with greater reluctance or sense of oppression. Men often find the charge of their own families to be a burden; but if to this be added a load of care for others, the pressure is usually serve and irksome.
Bur"den transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Burdened present participle & verbal noun Burdening
  1. To encumber with weight (literal or figurative); to lay a heavy load upon; to load.
    I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened. 2 Cor. viii. 13.
  2. To oppress with anything grievous or trying; to overload; as, to burden a nation with taxes.
    My burdened heart would break. Shak.
  3. To impose, as a load or burden; to lay or place as a burden (something heavy or objectionable). R.
    It is absurd to burden this act on Cromwell. Coleridge.
    Syn. -- To load; encumber; overload; oppress.
Bur"den noun
OE. burdoun the bass in music, F. bourdon; cf. LL. burdo drone, a long organ pipe, a staff, a mule. Prob. of imitative origin. Cf. Bourdon.
  1. 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; as, the burden of a prayer.
    I would sing my song without a burden. Shak.
  2. The drone of a bagpipe. Ruddiman.
Bur"den noun
See Burdon.
  1. A club. Obs. Spenser.

Webster 1913