Definition of burden in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbəːd(ə)n/


1A load, typically 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, cargo, freight, weight;
charge, pack, bundle, parcel
1.1A duty or misfortune that causes worry, hardship, or distress: the tax burden on low-wage earners
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.
responsibility, onus, charge, duty, obligation, liability;
trouble, care, problem, worry, anxiety, tribulation, affliction, trial, difficulty, misfortune, strain, stress, encumbrance, millstone, cross to bear, albatross
archaic cumber
1.2The main responsibility for achieving a specified aim or task: the burden of establishing that the authority had misused its powers rests upon the prosecution
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.
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.
gist, substance, drift, implication, intention, thrust, meaning, significance, signification, sense, essence, thesis, import, purport, tenor, message, spirit
3 archaic The 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 forwards 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.
load, weight, charge;
weigh down, encumber, hamper, overload, overburden;
(burdened) laden
rare trammel
1.1Cause (someone) worry, 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.
oppress, trouble, cause trouble to, cause suffering to;
worry, beset, bother, harass, disturb, upset, depress, get someone down;
distress, grieve, haunt, nag, torment, harrow, afflict, strain, stress, tax, overwhelm, perturb, plague, bedevil


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, of West Germanic origin; related to bear1.

Words that rhyme with burden


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bur¦den

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