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"that which is laid upon a person or beast, burden," c.1200, from Old English lad "way, course, carrying," from Proto-Germanic *laitho (cf. Old High German leita, German leite, Old Norse leið "way, course"); related to Old English lædan "to guide," from PIE *leit- "to go forth" (see lead (v.)). Sense shifted 13c. to supplant words based on lade, to which it is not etymologically connected; original association with "guide" is preserved in lodestone. Meaning "amount customarily loaded at one time" is from c.1300.
Figurative sense of "burden weighing on the mind, heart, or soul" is first attested 1590s. Meaning "amount of work" is from 1946. Colloquial loads "lots, heaps" is attested from c.1600. Phrase take a load off (one's) feet "sit down, relax" is from 1914, American English. Get a load of "take a look at" is American English colloquial, attested from 1929.
A departure from normal body content, as of water, salt, or heat. A positive load is a quantity in excess of the normal; a negative load is a deficit.
1. To copy data (often program code to be run) into memory, possibly parsing it somehow in the process. E.g. "WordPerfect can't load this RTF file - are you sure it didn't get corrupted in the download?" Opposite of save.
2. The degree to which a computer, network, or other resource is used, sometimes expressed as a percentage of the maximum available. E.g. "What kind of CPU load does that program give?", "The network's constantly running at 100% load". Sometimes used, by extension, to mean "to increase the level of use of a resource". E.g. "Loading a spreadsheet really loads the CPU". See also: load balancing.
3. To install a piece of software onto a system. E.g. "The computer guy is gonna come load Excel on my laptop for me". This usage is widely considered to be incorrect.