Hypertext Webster Gateway: "burden"

From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary (easton)

(1.) A load of any kind (Ex. 23:5). (2.) A severe task (Ex.
2:11). (3.) A difficult duty, requiring effort (Ex. 18:22). (4.)
A prophecy of a calamitous or disastrous nature (Isa. 13:1;
17:1; Hab. 1:1, etc.).

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Burden \Bur"den\ (b[^u]"d'n), n. [Written also burthen.] [OE.
burden, burthen, birthen, birden, AS. byr[eth]en; akin to
Icel. byr[eth]i, Dan. byrde, Sw. b["o]rda, G. b["u]rde, OHG.
burdi, Goth. ba['u]r[thorn]ei, fr. the root of E. bear, AS.
beran, Goth. bairan. [root]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.

{Beast of burden}, an animal employed in carrying burdens.

{Burden of proof} [L. onus probandi] (Law), the duty of
proving a particular position in a court of law, a failure
in the performance of which duty calls for judgment
against the party on whom the duty is imposed.

Syn: {Burden}, {Load}.

Usage: 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.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Burden \Bur"den\, n. [See {Burdon}.]
A club. [Obs.] --Spenser.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Burden \Bur"den\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Burdened}; p. pr. & vb.
n. {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.

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.

Syn: To load; encumber; overload; oppress.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Burden \Bur"den\ (b[^u]r"d'n), n. [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.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Burdon \Bur"don\, n. [See {Bourdon}.]
A pilgrim's staff. [Written also {burden}.] --Rom. of R.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

n 1: an onerous or difficult concern; "the burden of
responsibility"; "that's a load off my mind" [syn: {load},
{encumbrance}, {incumbrance}, {onus}]
2: weight to be borne or conveyed [syn: {load}, {loading}]
3: the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work
[syn: {effect}, {essence}, {core}, {gist}]
4: the central idea that is expanded in a document or discourse
v 1: weight down with a load [syn: {burthen}, {weight}, {weight
down}] [ant: {unburden}]
2: impose a task upon, assign a responsibility to; "He charged
her with cleaning up all the files over the weekend" [syn:
{charge}, {saddle}]

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