Main definitions of bourn in English

: bourn1bourn2

bourn1

(also bourne)

noun

dialect
  • A small stream, especially one that flows intermittently or seasonally.

    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘The bourns are its arteries.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But it seems likely that all sorcery will vanish with the bourns.’
    brook, rivulet, rill, runnel, streamlet, freshet
    View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: southern English variant of burn.

Pronunciation:

bourn

/bôrn/

Main definitions of bourn in English

: bourn1bourn2

bourn2

(also bourne)

noun

literary
  • 1A limit; a boundary.

    • ‘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.’
    limit, end, edge, side, farthest point, boundary, border, frontier, boundary line, bound, bounding line, partition line, demarcation line, end point, cut-off point, termination
    View synonyms
  • 2A goal; a destination.

    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

Early 16th century (denoting a boundary of a field): from French borne, from Old French bodne (see bound).

Pronunciation:

bourn

/bôrn/