One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small stream, especially one that flows intermittently or seasonally.
brook, rivulet, rill, runnel, streamlet, freshetView synonyms
- ‘One of the many good touches in this book is its linguistic bent, as in the explanation of tilth and bourn, farming terms carried as baggage to the American Utopia.’
- ‘The bourns are its arteries.’
- ‘But it seems likely that all sorcery will vanish with the bourns.’
- ‘I-I-I don't get you, he says thickly, in a stuttered upper-pitch that probably succeeds in shaving a bourne of phlegm off his wind-pipe.’
Middle English: southern English variant of burn.
1A limit or boundary.
limit, end, edge, side, farthest point, boundary, border, frontier, boundary line, bound, bounding line, partition line, demarcation line, end point, cut-off point, terminationView synonyms
- ‘These spaces of dispersion are marked with bourns which disappear amid the fields of scree as stones.’
- ‘In works such as these, the paint-splattered canvases, which suggest the wilder bourns of Abstract Expressionism, are subjected to all manner of indignities.’
- 1.1 A goal or destination.
- ‘Many more men were taken ‘to that bourne from whence no traveller [sic] returns.’’
- ‘Travellers from distant bournes report that this is less of a problem in Fargo, North Dakota, but round here the sensibilities of Iranian hairdressers and Sri Lankan taxi drivers are gravely considered.’
- ‘It's quite hard to say, ‘The undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns’ when your mum has just died. ‘If it be not now yet it will come.’
- ‘Northern Afghanistan was to these Assyrian kings the dumping ground for unconsidered numbers of slaves; a bourn from which no captive ever returned.’
- ‘In the most important soliloquy in the play, Hamlet allegedly says: ‘But that the dread of something after death / The undiscovered country, from whose bourn / No traveller returns, troubles the will.’’
Early 16th century (denoting a boundary of a field): from French borne, from Old French bodne (see bound).
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