Word of the Day

Thursday, September 12, 2002

onus

\OH-nuhs\ , noun;
1.
A burden; an obligation; a disagreeable necessity.
2.
a: A stigma. b: Blame.
3.
The burden of proof.
Quotes:
And who knew what financial pressures he was under or how desperate was his need to shed the onus of his past?
-- Richard Lingeman, "The Last Party", New York Times, April 27, 1997
The onus of leadership fell on him.
-- Scott Ritter, Endgame
The critical point, however, was that the Times story freed other publications from the onus of being the first to print the gossip, and everyone felt freer to leap in.
-- Gail Collins, Scorpion Tongues
Nor has the onus of official displeasure fallen heavily enough upon the offenders.
-- Edmund Candler, "Mahatma Ghandi", The Atlantic, July 1922
Mr. King is one of those writers who tries to fend off the onus of a cliche by admitting or underlining it.
-- Richard R. Lingeman, "Something Nasty in the Tub", New York Times, March 1, 1977
Where a claimant contracted asbestosis having been exposed to asbestos dust over a period of years, approximately half of which he had spent working for the defendants, and half of which he had spent working for other employers, the onus was upon him to prove causation.
-- "Claimant to prove contribution to his disability", Times (London), April 12, 2000
Origin:
Onus is adopted from Latin onus, "load, burden." The derivative Latin adjective onerosus yields English onerous, "burdensome, oppressive." The derivative Latin verb onerare has the compound form exonerare, "to free from (ex-) an onus or burden," which yields English exonerate, "to relieve, in a moral sense, as of a charge, obligation, or load of blame resting on one."
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