1 [bur-dn]
that which is carried; load: a horse's burden of rider and pack.
that which is borne with difficulty; obligation; onus: the burden of leadership.
the weight of a ship's cargo.
the carrying capacity of a ship.
Mining. overburden ( def 3 ).
Metallurgy. the minerals charged into a blast furnace or steelmaking furnace.
Accounting. overhead ( def 6 ).
verb (used with object)
to load heavily.
to load oppressively; trouble.

before 1000; Middle English, variant of burthen, Old English byrthen; akin to German Bürde, Gothic baurthei; see bear1

burdener, noun
burdenless, adjective

1. See load. 2. weight, encumbrance, impediment. 8. weigh down, saddle, try, afflict, perturb, plague, grieve, vex.
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2 [bur-dn]
the main point, message, or idea.
Music. the refrain or recurring chorus of a song.

1275–1325; Middle English bordoun, burdoun < Old French bourdon droning sound, instrument making such a sound

1. substance, core, crux, nucleus, essence.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
burden1 (ˈbɜːdən)
1.  something that is carried; load
2.  something that is exacting, oppressive, or difficult to bear: the burden of responsibility Related: onerous
3.  nautical
 a.  the cargo capacity of a ship
 b.  the weight of a ship's cargo
4.  (sometimes foll by up) to put or impose a burden on; load
5.  to weigh down; oppress: the old woman was burdened with cares
Related: onerous
[Old English byrthen; related to beran to bear1, Old Frisian berthene burden, Old High German burdin]

burden2 (ˈbɜːdən)
1.  a line of words recurring at the end of each verse of a ballad or similar song; chorus or refrain
2.  the principal or recurrent theme of a speech, book, etc
3.  another word for bourdon
[C16: from Old French bourdon bass horn, droning sound, of imitative origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

O.E. byrðen "a load, weight, charge, duty;" also "a child;" from P.Gmc. *burthinjo "that which is borne" (cf. O.N. byrðr, O.S. burthinnia, Ger. bürde, Goth. baurþei), from PIE *bher- (1) "carry, give birth." The shift from -th- to -d- took place beginning 12c. (cf.
murder). Archaic burthen is occasionally retained for the specific sense of "capacity of a ship." Burden of proof is recorded from 1590s.

"leading idea," 1640s, from earlier sense "refrain or chorus of a song," 1590s, originally "bass accompaniment to music" (late 14c.), from O.Fr. bordon "bumble-bee, drone," or directly from M.L. burdonom "drone, drone bass" (cf. Fr. bourdon, Sp. bordon, Port. bordão, It. bordone), of echoic origin.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Burden definition

(1.) A load of any kind (Ex. 23:5). (2.) A severe task (Ex. 2:11). (3.) A difficult duty, requiring effort (Ex. 18:22). (4.) A prophecy of a calamitous or disastrous nature (Isa. 13:1; 17:1; Hab. 1:1, etc.).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
So instead of going through your day to day with the burdens of the world on
  your shoulders, smile.
The sense of duty, growing ever deeper, compelled him to take up fresh burdens.
He closed the door of the room, came forward to the dressing-table, and put
  down his burdens.
He finds possessions oppressive and has tirelessly pursued an existence in
  which he would be free of all burdens.
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