Meaning "imposing a heavy, difficult burden," today's "onerous" is a rather serious word.
Let's call to mind a word about burdens that can be pretty funny. It's 5 syllables, it starts with "i," and it means "all the stuff you carry around with you that burdens you." I'd given this sentence as an example: "And then there's Steve Martin and all his hilarious i_________ as he walks out the door in The Jerk. This ash tray. This paddle game. This chair. This magazine."
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An onus is a burden or a duty. We took the word "onus" straight from Latin, where it means the same thing.
The adjective form is "onerous." In law, "onerous" has a specific meaning, but in general, something onerous is burdensome: it's difficult, heavy, and troublesome.
ON er us.
It sounds just like "honor us."
Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like "large" or "late."
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in "onerous duties."
2. After a linking verb, as in "Their duties were onerous.")
The noun simply meaning "a burden" is "onus," which rhymes with "bonus."
How to use it:
Talk about onerous tasks and duties and responsibilities, onerous terms and conditions, onerous expectations, onerous debts and fees, onerous rules and regulations, onerous processes, and so on.
Why bother knowing "onerous" when you already know "burdensome" and they mean exactly the same thing? "Onerous" is slightly more formal, and it gives you a bit more flexibility in your word choice.
We Americans like to complain about having to file our own taxes, but it's not like we're being pressed into a mandatory year of onerous service to the military.
My fellow Facebook moms seem to despise laundry as a never-ending, onerous task. Is it weird that I sort of enjoy it?
study it now:
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "onerous" means when you can explain it without saying "oppressive" or "hard to deal with."
try it out:
Think of a habit, hobby, or activity that can get really expensive, and fill in the blank: "If it weren't so financially onerous, I would probably _____."
Example: "If it weren't so financially onerous, we would probably go snow skiing regularly."
before you review:
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
When it comes to word roots, everybody knows what some of them mean, like “ambi/amphi” (“both”) and “circum” (“around”) and “hetero” (“different”). This knowledge helps you explain why words like “automobile” and “autobiography” look similar—in this case, it’s because they both involve the concept of “self.” But what about some of the less obvious roots? Could you explain, for example, why “contain” looks so much like “sustain” by defining “tain”? This month, we're exploring the meanings underlying common words you know. You can usually figure these out by looking for an extremely basic concept common to all the words in each group. We’ll start with easier, more obvious roots and move on to trickier ones as the month goes on!
Yesterday's question: In affluent, confluence, fluctuate, fluent, fluid, flume, influence, and superfluous, what does “flu” mean?
Answer: To flow.
Try this one today: In abject, adjective, conjecture, dejected, eject, injection, interject, object, project, reject, subject, and trajectory, what does “ject” mean?
review today's word:
1. The opposite of ONEROUS is
2. Not every moment of parenthood is onerous. Some of them are _____.
A. a bit confusing B. pure bliss
Answers are below.
a final word:
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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