onerous

adjective oner·ous \ ˈä-nə-rəs , ˈō- \

Definition of onerous

1 :involving, imposing, or constituting a burden :troublesome
  • an onerous task
  • onerous regulations
  • an onerous mortgage
2 :having legal obligations that outweigh the advantages
  • an onerous contract

onerously

adverb

onerousness

noun

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Examples of onerous in a Sentence

  1. 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 BegleyNewsweek23 June 2008
  2. 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 ColeTime10 June 2000
  3. 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 RobinsonThe Death of Adam1998
  4. 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 MilwardRolling Stone11 Aug. 1994
  5. The government imposed onerous taxes on imports.

  6. had the onerous and stressful job of notifying the families of soldiers killed in action

Recent Examples of onerous from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'onerous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

What is the Difference Between onerous, burdensome, oppressive?

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 and Etymology of onerous

Middle English, from Middle French honereus, from Latin onerosus, from oner-, onus burden; akin to Sanskrit anas cart

Synonym Discussion of onerous

onerous, burdensome, oppressive, exacting mean imposing hardship. onerous stresses being laborious and heavy especially because distasteful.
    • the onerous task of cleaning up the mess
burdensome suggests causing mental as well as physical strain.
    • burdensome responsibilities
oppressive implies extreme harshness or severity in what is imposed.
    • the oppressive tyranny of a police state
exacting implies rigor or sternness rather than tyranny or injustice in the demands made or in the one demanding.
    • an exacting employer

ONEROUS Defined for English Language Learners

onerous

adjective

Definition of onerous for English Language Learners

  • : difficult and unpleasant to do or deal with


ONEROUS Defined for Kids

onerous

adjective oner·ous \ ˈä-nə-rəs , ˈō- \

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

Law Dictionary

onerous

adjective oner·ous \ ˈä-nə-rəs, ˈō- \

legal Definition of onerous

1 :excessively burdensome or costly
2 :involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration
  • an onerous donation
used chiefly in the civil law of Louisiana — see also onerous contract at contract — compare gratuitous


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