Definition of onus
- put forth a theory that left the onus squarely on him
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
hoping to avoid the onus of failure by lowering expectations ahead of time
he perpetually tries to shift the onus for any mistakes onto other team members
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'onus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Understanding the etymology of onus is not at all burdensome; it's as simple as knowing that English borrowed the word - spelling, meaning, and all - from Latin in the 17th century. We can also add that it's a distant relative of the Sanskrit word for "cart" (a vehicle that carries a burden). English isn't exactly loaded with derivatives of Latin onus, but the root did give us "onerous" ("troublesome") and "exonerate" ("to clear from accusation or blame" - thus, "to unburden"). Additionally, our legal language has "onus probandi," which is often shortened to "onus." It means "burden of proof" - that is, the obligation of proving a disputed assertion in a court of law.
What made you want to look up onus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz