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burthen (plural burthens)

  1. (obsolete or historical, nautical) The tonnage of a ship based on the number of tuns of wine that it could carry in its holds.
    • 1940 December, Charles E. Lee, “The Wenford Mineral Line”, in Railway Magazine, page 647, from the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, October 3, 1834:
      [...] and thence to Calstock, a town on the Tamar, which is washed by the sea flowing through Plymouth Sound and Hamoaze, and which place vessels of 200 tons burthen can reach at spring tides—[...].
  2. Archaic form of burden.


burthen (third-person singular simple present burthens, present participle burthening, simple past and past participle burthened)

  1. Archaic form of burden.
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island:
      The other men were variously burthened; some carrying picks and shovels – for that had been the very first necessary they brought ashore from the Hispaniola – others laden with pork, bread, and brandy for the midday meal.