onerous

adjective
oner·​ous | \ ˈä-nə-rəs How to pronounce onerous (audio) , ˈō- How to pronounce onerous (audio) \

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

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Other Words from onerous

onerously adverb
onerousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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").

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Taking care of a 1,500-square-foot garden became too onerous. Mike Klingaman, baltimoresun.com, "How a Columbia gardener turns his tiny plot into a full-fledged feast," 4 June 2019 The current tools require some decently onerous editing of database or INI files and may not work correctly on every regional variation of the system at the moment. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Cryptography failure leads to easy hacking for PlayStation Classic," 10 Dec. 2018 That made the cost and logistics of handling cash especially onerous. Alexandra Olson, The Seattle Times, "As cashless stores grow, so does the backlash," 14 Apr. 2019 The Obama administration had to hand out waivers to states from the most onerous parts of No Child Left Behind. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Are the teachers unions really as powerful as all that?," 27 June 2018 In a bull run powering through its 10th year, market timing has become an onerous task. Bloomberg, Fortune, "It Was an Unlucky Week to Throw $8.8 Billion at the Stock Market," 19 May 2018 Experiments had found that elevation made people more likely or willing to volunteer for onerous tasks, donate to charity, mentor other people, register as an organ donor and cooperate with others. Daniel Burke, CNN, "Seeing the Pope help strangers made me tear up. Later I learned why.," 6 Apr. 2018 The industry argued that classifying all of their funds’ holdings into these buckets would be an onerous and complex task, forcing them to make imprecise judgments that might be second-guessed. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The One Word Giving Money Managers Headaches in 2018: Liquidity," 31 Mar. 2018 Considering the groundswell of support for assault weapon bans or laws to raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old, this may become an onerous task. Andrew Keiper, Fox News, "Parkland massacre sparks a wave of state-level gun reform efforts," 15 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of onerous

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for onerous

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

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Statistics for onerous

Last Updated

8 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for onerous

The first known use of onerous was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for onerous

onerous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of onerous

formal : difficult and unpleasant to do or deal with

onerous

adjective
oner·​ous | \ ˈä-nə-rəs How to pronounce onerous (audio) , ˈō-\

Kids Definition of onerous

: 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

onerous

adjective
oner·​ous | \ ˈä-nə-rəs, ˈō- How to pronounce onerous (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on onerous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with onerous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for onerous

Spanish Central: Translation of onerous

Nglish: Translation of onerous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of onerous for Arabic Speakers

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