noun (1)
bur·​den | \ ˈbər-dᵊn How to pronounce burden (audio) \

Definition of burden

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : something that is carried : load dropped his burden of firewood
b : duty, responsibility forced to bear the burden of caring for her aging parents lowering the tax burden on the middle class
2 : something oppressive or worrisome a heavy burden of guilt was a huge financial burden on his family
3a : the bearing of a load usually used in the phrase beast of burden
b : capacity for carrying cargo a ship of a hundred tons burden
4 : load sense 11 worm burdens of cattle cancer burden


burdened; burdening\ ˈbərd-​niŋ How to pronounce burden (audio) , ˈbər-​dᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of burden (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: load, oppress I will not burden you with a lengthy account.


noun (2)

Definition of burden (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : a central topic : theme the burden of the argument
2 archaic : a bass or accompanying part I would sing my song without a burden; thou bringest me out of tune— Shakespeare

Synonyms & Antonyms for burden

Synonyms: Noun (1)

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun (2)

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of burden in a Sentence

Verb I don't wish to burden you with my problems. burdened the dog with a little backpack

First Known Use of burden

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1541, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for burden

Noun (1) and Verb

Middle English, from Old English byrthen; akin to Old English beran to carry — more at bear

Noun (2)

Middle English burdoun, from Anglo-French burdun a drone bass, of imitative origin

Learn More About burden

Time Traveler for burden

Time Traveler

The first known use of burden was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near burden

Burdekin vine


Burden's grass

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for burden

Cite this Entry

“Burden.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burden. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for burden


bur·​den | \ ˈbər-dᵊn How to pronounce burden (audio) \

Kids Definition of burden

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something carried : load
2 : something that is hard to endure a heavy burden of sorrow
3 : the capacity of a ship for carrying cargo a vessel of fifty tons burden


burdened; burdening

Kids Definition of burden (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to have a heavy load or put a heavy load on
2 : to cause to have to deal with He is burdened with responsibilities.


bur·​den | \ ˈbərd-ᵊn How to pronounce burden (audio) \

Medical Definition of burden

: load sense 3 worm burden cancer burden



Legal Definition of burden

1 : something that is a duty, obligation, or responsibility the prosecution has the burden of proving every element of the offense the statute imposes undue burdens burden of pleading the necessary elements

More from Merriam-Webster on burden

Nglish: Translation of burden for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of burden for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!