Definition of burden in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbərdn/


1A load, especially a heavy one.
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
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
Example sentences
  • 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]
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.
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.

Words that rhyme with burden


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bur·den

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