Definition of burden in English:


Syllabification: bur·den
Pronunciation: /ˈbərdn


  • 1A load, especially a heavy one.
    More example sentences
    • And laying my heavy burden in the safe hands of the luggage compartment I went to my seat and was given rest.
    • Old hags being bent double, with heavy burdens attached at either end of long poles slung over a shoulder.
    • Just out of school, and freed from the confines of the uniform and the burden of the heavy schoolbag, life seems to stretch endlessly ahead.
    load, weight, cargo, freight
  • 1.1A duty or misfortune that causes hardship, anxiety, or grief; a nuisance: the burden of mental illness
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    • Home affordability for those unfortunates who aren't on the ladder must be an absolute disaster given the tax burden and low wages.
    • That was a huge burden of stress, worry, and cost for the small business that I worked for.
    • And whichever names you dress it up with or rationales used to justify it, it's a fancy way to describe putting more of the tax burden on middle income earners.
    encumbrance, strain, care, problem, worry, difficulty, trouble, millstone; responsibility, onus, charge, duty, obligation, liability
  • 1.2The main responsibility for achieving a specified aim or task: the burden of establishing that the cost was unreasonable
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    • She labored under the arduous burden of trying to achieve clarity at a time when the government places an understandably high premium on secrecy.
    • Unfortunately, the burden of this task - of displaying to the world such terrifying conditions - proves too much for the film.
    • Many very poor countries today shoulder the main burden of sheltering the millions who flee war, persecution, environmental devastation and hunger.
  • 1.3A ship’s carrying capacity; tonnage: the schooner Wyoming, of about 6,000 tons burden
    More example sentences
    • The one enjoyed by certain French ports over colonial trade was virtually abandoned when all ports capable of accommodating ships of 100 tons' burden were included in the list.
    • They were as large as any wooden ships ever built, as much as two thousand tons burden; a French king had a tennis court installed in one.
    • Each of these vessels was fourteen tons burden and plied the same route as those owned by Barlow.
  • 2 (the burden) The main theme or gist of a speech, book, or argument: the burden of his views
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    • Now, as I understood the burden of your argument, it was that there was no valuable consideration, not that there was no purchaser.
    • This is the Private Language Argument, the burden of which is that there can be no such thing as a language invented by and intelligible to a single individual only.
    • Mr Lynagh for Mr Unwin carried the burden of the argument here.
  • 2.1The refrain or chorus of a song.
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    • It is to be found in many cultures and periods, for example in the medieval carol, where the burden represents the A section.
    • The first two lines constitute the burden or refrain which is customarily repeated after every stanza.
    • The refrain stands at the head and is sung by all: a soloist sings the various stanzas; and all add to each of them the opening burden or refrain.


[with object] Back to top  
  • 1Load heavily: she walked forward burdened with a wooden box
    More example sentences
    • Ants burdened with loads of leaf fragments march toward their underground fungal gardens.
    • A camel, burdened with a heavy load, slowly trudges across the hot desert sand with no relief from the burning sun.
    • Bustling in, burdened with packages, she had just returned from a twelve-hour day at The Children's Art Carnival.
  • 1.1Cause (someone) hardship or distress: they were not yet burdened with adult responsibility
    More example sentences
    • They shouldn't worry about burdening us with calls, that's what we're there for.
    • Your other children, in particular, may try to deal with their pain alone so as not to burden you with additional worries.
    • Yet when he's hurt he pulls away, not wanting to burden anyone with his worries.


burden of proof

The obligation to prove one’s assertion.
More example sentences
  • The Crown continues to have the burden of proof of proving an offence beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • It may well be that the ultimate objection is that such a pleading places a burden of proof on the claimant to prove his innocence.
  • These provisions set out the burden of proof in discrimination cases.


Old English byrthen; related to bear1.

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Word of the day milord
Pronunciation: məˈlôrd
used to address an English nobleman