1 : burden
2 : a disagreeable necessity : obligation
3 : blame
4 : stigma
Did You Know?
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.
Management has made it clear that the onus is on employees to ask for further training if they don't understand the new procedures.
"I feel very fortunate that I never got into this business as a beauty queen. Even back in high school, the actors I idolized were the chameleons. That really took the onus off of what I looked like, and what a beautiful woman is supposed to look like." — Connie Britton, quoted in The New York Times, 15 Dec. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to complete a noun that is a synonym of onus and is also an adjective meaning "necessary": _ _ p _ r _ t _ ve.VIEW THE ANSWER
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