Simple Definition of onerous
: difficult and unpleasant to do or deal with
Examples of onerous in a sentence
Then everyone was asked, how fairly did you act?, from “extremely unfairly” (1) to “extremely fairly” (7). Next they watched someone else make the assignments, and judged that person's ethics. Selflessness was a virtual no-show: 87 out of 94 people opted for the easy task and gave the next guy the onerous one. —Sharon Begley, Newsweek, 23 June 2008
The first hitch occurred when the state education department took a full six months after the new law was adopted to issue 12 pages of onerous rules and regulations governing Arkansas charter schools. —Wendy Cole, Time, 10 June 2000
Environmentalism poses stark issues of survival, for humankind and for all those other tribes of creatures over which we have exercised our onerous dominion. —Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam, 1998
Rap tested well, but early on the promoters said they wouldn't be booking any gangsta rap, a move at least partly designed to calm security concerns during the onerous process of complying with the strict mass-gathering laws enacted in the wake of the 1969 festival. —John Milward, Rolling Stone, 11 Aug. 1994
The government imposed onerous taxes on imports.
<had the onerous and stressful job of notifying the families of soldiers killed in action>
Did You Know?
Onerous, which traces back to the Latin onus, meaning "burden," has several synonyms. Like "onerous," "burdensome," "oppressive," and "exacting" all refer to something which imposes a hardship of some kind. "Onerous" stresses a sense of laboriousness and heaviness, especially because something is distasteful ("the onerous task of cleaning up the mess"). "Burdensome" suggests something which causes mental as well as physical strain ("the burdensome responsibilities of being a supervisor"). "Oppressive" implies extreme harshness or severity in what is imposed ("the oppressive tyranny of a police state"). "Exacting" suggests rigor or sternness rather than tyranny or injustice in the demands made or in the one demanding ("an exacting employer who requires great attention to detail").
Origin of onerous
Middle English, from Middle French honereus, from Latin onerosus, from oner-, onus burden; akin to Sanskrit anas cart
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of onerous
Rhymes with onerous
ONEROUS Defined for Kids
Definition of onerous for Students
: being difficult and unpleasant to do or to deal with <“… do you never find your duties onerous or irksome?” — E. B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan>
Legal Definition of onerous
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