bur (n.) Look up bur at Dictionary.com
"prickly seed vessel of some plants," c.1300, burre, from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish borre, Swedish hard-borre, Old Norse burst "bristle"), from PIE *bhars- (see bristle (n.)). Transferred 1610s to "rough edge on metal," which might be the source of the sense "rough sound of the letter -r-" (see burr).
burble (v.) Look up burble at Dictionary.com
"make a bubbling sound," c.1300, imitative. Related: Burbled; burbling.
burd (n.) Look up burd at Dictionary.com
poetic word for "woman, lady" in old ballads; later "young lady, maiden;" c.1200, perhaps from Old English byrde "wealthy, well-born." Or a metathesis of bryd "bride." The masculine equivalent was berne.
burden (n.1) Look up burden at Dictionary.com
"a load," Old English byrðen "a load, weight, charge, duty;" also "a child;" from Proto-Germanic *burthinjo- "that which is borne" (cognates: Old Norse byrðr, Old Saxon burthinnia, German bürde, Gothic baurþei), from PIE root *bher- (1) "to bear, to carry; give birth" (see infer).

The shift from -th- to -d- took place beginning 12c. (compare murder (n.)). Archaic burthen is occasionally retained for the specific sense of "capacity of a ship." Burden of proof is recorded from 1590s.
burden (n.2) Look up burden at Dictionary.com
"leading idea," 1640s, a figurative use from earlier sense "refrain or chorus of a song," 1590s, originally "bass accompaniment to music" (late 14c.), from Old French bordon "bumble-bee, drone," or directly from Medieval Latin burdonom "drone, drone bass" (source of French bourdon, Spanish bordon, Portuguese bordão, Italian bordone), of echoic origin.
burdensome (adj.) Look up burdensome at Dictionary.com
1570s, from burden (n.1) + -some (1). Earlier was burdenous (1520s). Related: Burdensomeness.
burdock (n.) Look up burdock at Dictionary.com
coarse, weedy plant, 1590s, from bur + dock (n.3).
burdon (n.) Look up burdon at Dictionary.com
mule born of a horse and a she-ass, late 14c., from Latin burdonem.
bureau (n.) Look up bureau at Dictionary.com
1690s, "desk with drawers, writing desk," from French bureau "office; desk, writing table," originally "cloth covering for a desk," from burel "coarse woolen cloth" (as a cover for writing desks), Old French diminutive of bure "dark brown cloth," which is perhaps either from Latin burrus "red," or from Late Latin burra "wool, shaggy garment." Offices being full of such desks, the meaning expanded 1720 to "division of a government." Meaning "chest of drawers" is from 1770, said to be American English but early in British use.
bureaucracy (n.) Look up bureaucracy at Dictionary.com
1818, from French bureaucratie, coined by French economist Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759) on model of democratie, aristocratie, from bureau "office," literally "desk" (see bureau) + Greek suffix -kratia denoting "power of" (see -cracy).
That vast net-work of administrative tyranny ... that system of bureaucracy, which leaves no free agent in all France, except for the man at Paris who pulls the wires. [J.S. Mill, "Westminster Review" XXVIII, 1837]



bureaucrat, &c. The formation is so barbarous that all attempt at self-respect in pronunciation may perhaps as well be abandoned. [Fowler]
bureaucrat (n.) Look up bureaucrat at Dictionary.com
1839, from French bureaucrate (19c.); see bureaucracy.
bureaucratic (adj.) Look up bureaucratic at Dictionary.com
1836, from French bureaucratique (19c.); see bureaucracy. Related: Bureaucratically. Bureaucratization is from 1916.
burette (n.) Look up burette at Dictionary.com
1836, from French burette "small vase, cruet," diminutive of buire "vase for liquors," in Old French "jug," variant of buie (12c.) "bottle, water jog," from Frankish *buk- or some similar Germanic source (see bucket (n.)). As a laboratory measuring tube, from 1836.
burg (n.) Look up burg at Dictionary.com
"town or city," 1843, American English colloquial, from many place names ending in -burg (see borough; also see -ville).
burgeois Look up burgeois at Dictionary.com
obsolete form of bourgeois.
burgeon (v.) Look up burgeon at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "grow, sprout, blossom," from Anglo-French burjuner, Old French borjoner "to bud, sprout," from borjon "a bud, shoot, pimple" (Modern French bourgeon), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *burrionem (nominative *burrio), from Late Latin burra "flock of wool," itself of uncertain origin. Some sources (Kitchin, Gamillscheg) say either the French word or the Vulgar Latin one is from Germanic. The English verb is perhaps instead a native development from burjoin (n.) "a bud" (c.1300), from Old French. Related: Burgeoned; burgeoning.
burger (n.) Look up burger at Dictionary.com
1939, American English, shortened from hamburger (q.v.).
burgess (n.) Look up burgess at Dictionary.com
c.1200, burgeis "citizen of a borough," from Old French borjois (Modern French bourgeois), from Late Latin burgensis (see bourgeois). Applied from late 15c. to borough representatives in Parliament and used later in Virginia and other colonies used to denote members of the legislative body, while in Pennsylvania, etc., it meant "member of the governing council of a borough."
burgher (n.) Look up burgher at Dictionary.com
1560s, "freeman of a burgh," from Middle Dutch burgher or German Bürger, from Middle High German burger, from Old High German burgari "inhabitant of a fortress," from burg "fortress, citadel" (see borough). Burgh, as a native variant of borough, persists in Scottish English (as in Edinburgh).
burglar (n.) Look up burglar at Dictionary.com
1540s, shortened from Anglo-Latin burglator (late 13c.), earlier burgator, from Medieval Latin burgator "burglar," from burgare "to break open, commit burglary," from Latin burgus "fortress, castle," a Germanic loan-word akin to borough. The intrusive -l- is perhaps from influence of Latin latro "thief" (see larceny). The native word, Old English burgh-breche, might have influenced the word.
burglarious (adj.) Look up burglarious at Dictionary.com
1769, from burglary + -ous. Related: Burglariously; burglariousness.
burglarize (v.) Look up burglarize at Dictionary.com
1865, American English, from burglary + -ize. Related: Burglarized; burglarizing.
We see in a telegraphic despatch from across the boundary line that a store was "burglarized" a short time ago. We are sorry that any thing so dreadful should have happened to any of our inventive cousins. Truly the American language is "fearfully and wonderfully made." ["Upper Canada Law Journal," September 1865, p.228]



Burglarize, to, a term creeping into journalism. "The Yankeeisms donated, collided, and burglarized have been badly used up by an English magazine writer." (Southern Magazine, April, 1871.) The word has a dangerous rival in the shorter burgle. [Maximilian Schele De Vere, "Americanisms; The English of the New World," 1872]
burglary (n.) Look up burglary at Dictionary.com
c.1200, Anglo-Latin burglaria (see burglar).
burgle (v.) Look up burgle at Dictionary.com
1869, verbal back-formation from burglar (q.v.). Related: Burgled; burgling. Compare burglarize.
Burgundy (n.) Look up Burgundy at Dictionary.com
1670s, "wine made in Burgundy," region and former duchy in France. The place name is from Medieval Latin Burgundia, from Late Latin Burgundiones, literally "highlanders," from PIE *bhrgh-nt- "high, mighty," from root *bhrgh- "high" (see borough).
burial (n.) Look up burial at Dictionary.com
"act of burying," late 13c.; earlier "tomb" (c.1200), false singular from Old English byrgels "tomb," from byrgan "to bury" + suffix -els; a compound also found in Old Saxon burgisli, suggesting a Proto-Germanic *burgisli-, from PIE root *bhergh- (1) "to hide, protect" (see bury). The Germanic suffix *-isli- (also in Old English hydels "hiding place," fætels "bag") became obsolete and was felt as a plural of the Latin-derived suffix -al (2) forming nouns of action from verbs (survival, approval, etc.).
burin (n.) Look up burin at Dictionary.com
engraver's tool, 1660s, from French burin, cognate with Italian bolino, Spanish buril, perhaps from Old High German bora "tool for boring" (see bore (v.)).
burka (n.) Look up burka at Dictionary.com
1836, from Hindi, from Arabic burqa'.
Burke (v.) Look up Burke at Dictionary.com
family name (first recorded 1066), from Anglo-Norman pronunciation of Old English burgh. Not common in England itself, but it took root in Ireland, where William de Burgo went in 1171 with Henry II and later became Earl of Ulster. As shorthand for a royalty reference book, it represents "A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom," first issued 1826, compiled by John Burke (1787-1848). As a verb meaning "murder by smothering," it is abstracted from William Burk, executed in Edinburgh 1829 for murdering several persons to sell their bodies for dissection.
burl (n.) Look up burl at Dictionary.com
"small knot in wool or cloth," mid-15c., from Old French bourle "tuft of wool," which perhaps is related to the root of bur, or from Vulgar Latin *burrula "small flock of wool," from Late Latin burra "wool."
burlap (n.) Look up burlap at Dictionary.com
1690s, probably from Middle English borel "coarse cloth," from Old French burel (see bureau); or Dutch boeren "coarse," perhaps confused with boer "peasant." The second element, -lap, meant "piece of cloth" (see lap (n.)).
burlesque (n.) Look up burlesque at Dictionary.com
1660s, "derisive imitation, grotesque parody," from French burlesque (16c.), from Italian burlesco, from burla "joke, fun, mockery," possibly ultimately from Late Latin burra "trifle, nonsense," literally "flock of wool." Modern sense of "variety show featuring striptease" is American English, 1870. Originally (1857) "the sketches at the end of minstrel shows." As a verb, from 1670s.
burly (adj.) Look up burly at Dictionary.com
c.1300, perhaps from Old English burlic "noble, stately," literally "bowerly," fit to frequent a lady's apartment (see bower). Sense descended through "stout," and "sturdy" by 15c. to "heavily built." Another theory connects the Old English word to Old High German burlih "lofty, exalted," related to burjan "to raise, lift."
Burma Look up Burma at Dictionary.com
from Burmese people's self-designation; see Myanmar. Related: Burman.
Burmese Look up Burmese at Dictionary.com
1823 (adj.), 1824 (n.), from Burma + -ese.
burn (v.) Look up burn at Dictionary.com
12c., combination of Old Norse brenna "to burn, light," and two originally distinct Old English verbs: bærnan "to kindle" (transitive) and beornan "to be on fire" (intransitive), all from Proto-Germanic *brennan/*branajan (cognates: Middle Dutch bernen, Dutch branden, Old High German brinnan, German brennen, Gothic -brannjan "to set on fire"). This perhaps is from PIE *gwher- "to heat, warm" (see warm (adj.)), or from PIE *bhre-n-u, from root *bhreue- "to boil forth, well up" (see brew (v.)). Related: Burned/burnt (see -ed); burning.

Figuratively (of passions, battle, etc.) in Old English. Meaning "cheat, swindle, victimize" is first attested 1650s. In late 18c, slang, burned meant "infected with venereal disease." To burn one's bridges (behind one) "behave so as to destroy any chance of returning to a status quo" (attested by 1892 in Mark Twain), perhaps ultimately is from reckless cavalry raids in the American Civil War. Slavic languages have historically used different and unrelated words for the transitive and intransitive senses of "set fire to"/"be on fire:" for example Polish palić/gorzeć, Russian žeč'/gorel.
burn (n.) Look up burn at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "act of burning," from Old English bryne, from the same source as burn (v.). Until mid-16c. the usual spelling was brenne. Meaning "mark made by burning" is from 1520s. Slow burn first attested 1938, in reference to U.S. movie actor Edgar Kennedy (1890-1948), who made it his specialty.
burnable (adj.) Look up burnable at Dictionary.com
1610s, a hybrid from burn (v.) + -able.
burner (n.) Look up burner at Dictionary.com
late 13c., also as a surname, Brenner, "person who makes bricks," agent noun from burn (v.)). As a name for a part of a lamp where the flame is applied, from 1790. Of gas-cooking stoves, by 1885.
burning (adj.) Look up burning at Dictionary.com
Old English in the literal sense; c.1300 figurative, present participle adjective from burn (v.)). Burning question matches French question brûlante, German brennende Frage. Burning bush is from Exodus III. Burning glass is attested from 1560s.
burnish (v.) Look up burnish at Dictionary.com
early 14c., from Old French burniss- present participle stem of burnir, metathesis of brunir "to shine, gleam, sparkle" (trans.), "to polish, make sparkle, make bright, shine," from brun "brown; polished," from a Germanic source (compare Old High German brun, Old Norse brunn "bright, polished; brown;" see brown (adj.)). The connection to "brown" might be explained if the original objects in mind were wooden ones. Related: Burnished; burnishing.
burnout (n.) Look up burnout at Dictionary.com
also burn-out, "drug user," by 1972, slang, from the verbal phrase, from burn (v.) + out (adv.). Meaning "mental exhaustion from continuous effort" is from 1975.
burnsides (n.) Look up burnsides at Dictionary.com
style of facial hair consisting of side whiskers and a mustache (but clean-shaven chin), 1875 (singular; plural form from 1878; many early uses are in college and university magazines), a reference to U.S. Army Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881) of Civil War fame, who wore them and inspired the style. Compare sideburns.
burnt (adj.) Look up burnt at Dictionary.com
past participle adjective from alternative past participle of burn (v.). Burnt offering (late 14c.) is biblical (see Ex. xx:24, Mark xii:33).
burp Look up burp at Dictionary.com
1932, noun and verb, American English, apparently imitative. The transitive sense of the verb is first recorded 1940. Related: Burped; burping. Burp gun attested from 1945.
burqua (n.) Look up burqua at Dictionary.com
see burka.
burr (n.) Look up burr at Dictionary.com
"rough sound of the letter -r-" (especially that common in Northumberland), 1760, later extended to "northern accented speech" in general. Possibly the sound of the word is imitative of the speech peculiarity itself, or it was adapted from one of the senses of bur (q.v.), perhaps from the phrase to have a bur in (one's) throat (late 14c.), which was a figure of speech for "feel a choking sensation, huskiness." OED says the Scottish -r- is a lingual trill, not a true burr.
burrito (n.) Look up burrito at Dictionary.com
Mexican food dish, 1934, from Spanish, literally "little burro" (see burro).
burro (n.) Look up burro at Dictionary.com
"donkey," 1800, from Spanish burrico "donkey," from Late Latin burricus "small, shaggy horse," probably from burrus "reddish-brown," from Greek pyrros "flame-colored, yellowish-red," from pyr (genitive pyros) "fire" (see fire (n.)). Or, for its shaggy hair, from Late Latin burra "wool."
burrow (n.) Look up burrow at Dictionary.com
"rabbit-hole, fox-hole, etc.," c.1300, borewe, from Old English burgh "stronghold, fortress" (see borough); influenced by bergh "hill," and berwen "to defend, take refuge."