burden (n.2)
"leading idea, main topic," 1640s, a figurative use (on the notion of "subject often repeated") of the earlier sense "refrain or chorus of a song," 1590s, originally "bass accompaniment to music" (late 14c.), from Old French bordon (Modern French bourdon) "bumble-bee, drone," or directly from Medieval Latin burdonom "drone, drone bass" (source also of Spanish bordon, Portuguese bordão, Italian bordone), of echoic origin.
burdensome (adj.)
"heavy, wearisome," 1570s, from burden (n.1) + -some (1). Earlier was burdenous (1520s). Related: Burdensomeness.
burdock (n.)
common name of a kind of coarse, weedy plant, 1590s, from bur + dock (n.3).
burdon (n.)
mule born of a horse and a she-ass, late 14c., from Latin burdonem.
bureau (n.)
1690s, "desk with drawers for papers, writing desk," from French bureau (plural bureaux) "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" (see burro) or from Late Latin burra "wool, shaggy garment" (which is of unknown origin).

Bureau desks being the common furniture of offices, the meaning expanded by 1720 to "office or place where business is transacted," and by 1796 to "division of a government." Meaning "chest of drawers for clothes, etc.," is from 1770, said to be American English but early in British use.
bureaucracy (n.)
"government by bureaus," especially "tyrannical officialdom," excessive multiplication of administrative bureaus and concentration of power in them, in reference to their tendency to interfere in private matters and be inefficient and inflexible, 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.)
"member of a bureaucracy," 1839, from French bureaucrate (19c.); see bureaucracy.
bureaucratic (adj.)
"of the nature of a bureaucracy," 1836, from French bureaucratique (19c.); see bureaucracy. Related: Bureaucratical; bureaucratically.
bureaucratise (v.)
chiefly British English spelling of bureaucratize (q.v.); for suffix, see -ize. Related: Bureaucratised; bureaucratising; bureaucratisation.
bureaucratize (v.)
"to make bureaucratic," 1892; see bureaucracy + -ize. Related: Bureaucratized; bureaucratizing. Bureaucratization is from 1916.
burette (n.)
"small vessel for liquids," 1836, in chemistry, a precise measuring tube for laboratory work, from French burette "small vase, cruet," diminutive of buire "vase for liquors," in Old French "jug," variant of buie (12c.) "bottle, water jug," from Frankish *buk- or some similar Germanic source (see bucket (n.)).
burg (n.)
"town, city," 1843, American English colloquial, from the many place names ending in -burg (see borough; also see -ville).
burgeois
obsolete form of bourgeois.
burgeon (v.)
early 14c., "grow, sprout, blossom," from Anglo-French burjuner, Old French borjoner "to bud, sprout," from borjon "a bud, shoot, pimple" (Modern French bourgeon), a word 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 (compare Old High German burjan "to raise, lift up"). The English verb is perhaps instead a native development from burjoin (n.) "a bud" (c. 1300), from Old French. According to OED, it died out by 18c. except as a technical term in gardening, and was revived early 19c. in poetry. Related: Burgeoned; burgeoning.
burger (n.)
1939, American English, shortened from hamburger (q.v.).
burgess (n.)
c. 1200, burgeis "citizen of a borough, inhabitant of a walled town," 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 Maryland to denote members of the legislative body, while in Pennsylvania and Connecticut it meant "member of the governing council of a local municipality."
burgher (n.)
1560s, "freeman of a burgh," from Middle Dutch burgher or German Bürger, from Middle High German burger, from Old High German burgari, literally "inhabitant of a fortress," from burg "fortress, citadel" (from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts). Burgh, as a native variant of borough, persists in Scottish English (as in Edinburgh) and in Pittsburgh.
burglar (n.)
"one who commits robbery by breaking into a house," 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 unetymological -l- is perhaps from influence of Latin latro "thief" (see larceny). Middle English had burgur (c. 1200), from Old French burgeor, burgur, also housbreker (c. 1400). Burglar-alarm is by 1840.
burglarious (adj.)
"of or pertaining to burglary," 1769, from burglary + -ous. Related: Burglariously; burglariousness.
burglarize (v.)
1865, American English, from burglary + -ize. Damned as an American barbarism in England and Canada. 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.)
"crime of housebreaking," c. 1200, from Anglo-Latin burglaria (see burglar). The Old English word was husbreche.
burgle (v.)
"commit burglary, be a burglar," 1869, humorous or erroneous back-formation from burglar (q.v.) as thought it were an agent noun. Related: Burgled; burgling. Compare burglarize.
Burgundy (n.)
region and former kingdom, then duchy, then provine in France, from Medieval Latin Burgundia, from Late Latin Burgundiones, literally "highlanders," from PIE *bhrgh-nt- "high, mighty," from root *bhergh- (2) "high." The Burgundians were a Germanic people, originally from what is now Sweden, who migrated and founded a kingdom west of the Rhine in 411. Their story is told in the 12c. Nibelungenlied. As "wine made in Burgundy," 1670s; as a color resembling that of the wine, 1881 (burgundy rose as a color is from 1872). Related: Burgundian.
burial (n.)
"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." The Germanic suffix *-isli- (also in riddle (n.1), 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, removal, etc.). In the "act of burying a dead person" sense it is now regarded as bury + -al. Burial-ground is from 1803.
burin (n.)
engraver's tool, 1660s, from French burin, cognate with Italian bolino, Spanish buril, perhaps from Old High German bora "tool for boring" (from PIE root *bhorh- "hole"). Related: Burinist.
burka (n.)
also burkha, burqa, etc., "head-to-toe garment worn in public by women in some Muslim countries," 1836, from Hindi, from Arabic burqa'.
Burke (v.)
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 (the method was chosen because it left no marks on the victims). Related: Burking.
burl (n.)
mid-15c., "small knot in cloth or thread," 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," a word of unknown origin. In American English also "a knot or excrescence on a walnut or other tree" (1868).
burlap (n.)
"coarse, heavy material made of hemp, jute, etc., used for bagging," 1690s, the first element 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.2)).
burlesque (n.)
1660s, "piece composed in burlesque style, derisive imitation, grotesque parody," earlier as an adjective, "odd, grotesque" (1650s), from French burlesque (16c.), from Italian burlesco "ludicrous," from burla "joke, fun, mockery," possibly ultimately from Late Latin burra "trifle, nonsense," literally "flock of wool" (a word of unknown origin). The more precise adjectival meaning "tending to excite laughter by ludicrous contrast between the subject and the manner of treating it" is attested in English by 1700.
The two great branches of ridicule in writing are comedy and burlesque. The first ridicules persons by drawing them in their proper characters; the other, by drawing them quite unlike themselves. Burlesque is therefore of two kinds; the first represents mean persons in accoutrements of heroes, the other describes great persons acting and speaking like the basest among the people. [Addison, "Spectator," Dec. 15, 1711]
By 1880s it typically meant "travesties on the classics and satires on accepted ideas" and vulgar comic opera. Modern sense of "variety show featuring striptease" is American English, evolved after 1870 and predominant from 1920s, probably from the earlier sense "sketches at the end of minstrel shows" (1857).
A BURLESQUE show, to the average person, is a rather naughty form of entertainment which men attend for the purpose of vicarious thrills and semi-obscenity ["The American Parade," 1927]
burlesque (v.)
"make ridiculous by mocking representation," 1670s, from burlesque (n.). Related: Burlesqued; burlesquing.
burly (adj.)
c. 1300, borlich, "excellent, noble; handsome, beautiful," probably from Old English borlice "noble, stately," literally "bowerly," that is, fit to frequent a lady's apartment (see bower). Sense descended through "stout, sturdy" (c. 1400) to "heavily built." Another theory connects the Old English word to Old High German burlih "lofty, exalted," related to burjan "to raise, lift." In Middle English also of things; now only of persons. Related: Burliness.
Burma
from Burmese people's self-designation; see Myanmar.
Burmese
1823 (adj.), 1824 (n.), from Burma + -ese. Burman is older (1800 as a noun, 1814 as an adjective). Burmese cat attested from 1939.
burn (v.)
early 12c., brennen, "be on fire, be consumed by fire; be inflamed with passion or desire, be ardent; destroy (something) with fire, expose to the action of fire, roast, broil, toast; burn (something) in cooking," of objects, "to shine, glitter, sparkle, glow like fire;" chiefly from Old Norse brenna "to burn, light," and also from two originally distinct Old English verbs: bærnan "to kindle" (transitive) and beornan "be on fire" (intransitive).

All these are from Proto-Germanic *brennan/*brannjan (source also of Middle Dutch bernen, Dutch branden, Old High German brinnan, German brennen, Gothic -brannjan "to set on fire"), from Proto-Germanic *brennan "to burn," from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Related: Burned/burnt (see -ed); burning.

Figurative use (of passions, battle, etc.) was in Old English. Meaning "be hot, radiate heat" is from late 13c. Meaning "produce a burning sensation, sting" is from late 14c. Meaning "cheat, swindle, victimize" is first attested 1650s. In late 18c, slang, burned meant "infected with venereal disease."

To burn (something) down "burn it to the ground" is by 1858. 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. Of money, to burn a hole in (one's) pocket "affect a person with a desire to spend" from 1857.

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.)
c. 1300, "act or operation of burning," from Old English bryne, from the same source as burn (v.). Until mid-16c. the usual spelling was brenne. Meaning "mark or injury 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.
burn-out (n.)
also burnout, "drug user," by 1972, slang, from the verbal phrase, which is attested from 1590s in the sense "burn until fuel is exhausted;" see burn (v.) + out (adv.). The immediate source is perhaps the use of the phrase in reference to electrical circuits, "fuse or cease to function from overload" (1931). Also compare burnt out "extinct after entire consumption of fuel" (1837). Meaning "mental exhaustion from continuous effort" is from 1975.
burnable (adj.)
"capable of being burned," 1610s, a hybrid from burn (v.) + -able.
Burne-Jones
English artist and designer Edward C. Burne-Jones (1833-1898), an associate of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, whose work, popular late 19c., featured women who were pale, thin, and hollow-cheeked, with large, haunted eyes.
burner (n.)
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 issues, from 1790. Of the heating elements on gas cooking-stoves, by 1885.
burning (adj.)
Old English, "scorching, hot;" mid-14c. in figurative sense "powerful, strong, ardent;" present participle adjective from burn (v.)). Meaning "causing excitement" is by 1865, the sense in Burning question (1873), which matches French question brûlante, German brennende Frage. Burning bush is from Exodus iii.2. It was adopted as an emblem by Scottish Presbyterian churches in memory of the 17c. persecutions. Burning-glass is attested from 1560s.
burnish (v.)
early 14c., "to polish by friction," from Old French burniss- present participle stem of burnir, metathesis of brunir "to shine, gleam, sparkle" (trans.), also "to polish, make sparkle, make bright, shine," from brun "brown; polished," from Frankish or some other Germanic source (compare Old High German brun, Old Norse brunn "bright, polished; brown"), from Proto-Germanic *brunaz (from PIE root *bher- (2) "bright; brown"). The connection to "brown" might be explained if the original objects in mind were wooden ones. Meaning "cause to glow, clean (something) until it shines" is from late 14c. Related: Burnished; burnishing.
burnsides (n.)
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.)
late 14c., "consumed or scorched by fire," past-participle adjective from the original past participle of burn (v.), which was displaced after 16c, by burned. Burnt offering "animal burned whole upon an altar in Jewish ritual" is from late 14c., a biblical phrase (see Exodus xx.24, Mark xii.33). Burnt-cork (1800) was used as theatrical makeup in blackface acts. Burnt fox was an old slang name for a student during his second half-year in a German university.
burp
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.)
see burka.
burr (n.)
"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.)
Mexican food dish, 1934, from Spanish, literally "little burro" (see burro).
burro (n.)
"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" (from PIE root *paewr- "fire"). Or, for its shaggy hair, from Late Latin burra "wool," a word of unknown origin.
burrow (v.)
c. 1600, "to place in a burrow," from burrow (n.). Figuratively (such as to burrow (one's) head) by 1862. Intransitive sense, "to bore one's way into, penetrate, make a hole in" is from 1610s, originally figurative; the literal sense, of animals, is attested by 1771. Related: Burrowed; borrowing.