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

Still, for cash-rich Google, the financial penalty—while significant—is potentially less onerous than business changes Brussels has ordered in how Google structures deals between itself and manufacturers. Fox News, "Google is fined $5 billion by EU in Android antitrust case," 2 Oct. 2018 But shippers say the fees are often onerous and don’t take into account the delays that arise when ports are backed up for various reasons. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Truck Technology Startup Raises $97 Million for Port Freight Plan," 23 Jan. 2019 Still, legislative leaders had initially been resistant to the idea of any income tax increase in a state where residents already face some of the most onerous tax burdens in the country. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, "Last-Minute Budget Deal Averts Shutdown in New Jersey," 30 June 2018 As such, mandatory cybersecurity requirements could be inadequate for some sectors and needlessly onerous for others. WSJ, "Should the Government Require Companies to Meet Cybersecurity Standards for Critical Infrastructure?," 12 Nov. 2018 The penalties become more onerous for teams that spend like the Red Sox over multiple seasons. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "How MLB’s Luxury Tax Has Put a Deep Freeze on Spending," 11 Jan. 2019 Parents, teachers and school directors say the additional hours would prove onerous for parents, many of whom work full-time jobs and consider cooperative preschools an affordable option for early-childhood education. Debbie Truong, Washington Post, "Parents fear proposed regulations could jeopardize co-op preschools in Virginia," 10 July 2018 Initially moderate terms for lending on the port project became more onerous as Sri Lankan officials asked to renegotiate the timeline and add more financing. Maria Abi-habib, New York Times, "How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port," 25 June 2018 Canada might consent to more onerous conditions for a vehicle to be imported duty-free within NAFTA, including on wages and the amount of North American content. The Economist, "Donald Trump stomps on Canada’s economy," 14 June 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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Last Updated

13 Apr 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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