Definition of onerous
- an onerous contract
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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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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").
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
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