from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small stream; a brook.
  • noun A destination; a goal.
  • noun A boundary; a limit.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A bound; limit; destination; goal: as, “beyond the bourn of sunset,”
  • noun A stream; a brook: same as burn.
  • noun [The word occurs in various place-names in Great Britain, as Bournemouth (that is, mouth of the burn or rivulet), Westbourne, etc.]
  • See bone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A stream or rivulet; a burn.
  • noun A bound; a boundary; a limit. Hence: Point aimed at; goal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun destination
  • noun limit
  • noun A small stream or brook.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an archaic term for a boundary
  • noun an archaic term for a goal or destination


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English burna; see bhreu- in Indo-European roots.
French bourne, from French dialectal bosne, borne, from Old French bodne, limit, boundary marker, from Medieval Latin bodina, of Celtic origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Doublet of burn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French borne.


  • There's really only one period in a life, the full stop, "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns," as Shakespeare put it.

    Archive 2009-09-01

  • What no science fiction writer before the moonshot anticipated was that the Space Race would start out as a contest between two military powers for ascendancy in the 'high ground' of outer space, which then devolved into a prestige project, whose prohibitive costs were bourn for such imponderable goals such as national bragging rights.

    MIND MELD: Is Science Fiction Responsible for the Lack of Public Interest in Space Exploration?

  • Researchers study the diving behavior of auks using miniature bird-bourn electronic data-loggers called time-depth recorders (TDRs).

    Alcids in marine ecosystems

  • June 27, 2009 at 10:58 am i is young thing. i wuzzen even bourn back den!

    swim wif tigers - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • Although at the present time TB is largely confined to developing countries; however since TB is an air bourn disease, communicated via breath, it's even more easily spread, and this could increase the stigma that AIDS patients face, further affecting their care.

    Ed Hamilton: Artist Linda Troeller's TB-AIDS Diary Proves Sadly Prophetic

  • Enter then the tent, for the Argives are eager to set sail from Troy for home; and, when thou hast accomplished all that is appointed thee, thou shalt return with thy children to that bourn where thou hast lodged my son.


  • Farewell, my hapless daughter and yet thou scarce canst reach that bourn.

    The Bacchantes

  • The upstart king is dead and gone; our former monarch now is prince, having made his way even from the bourn of Acheron.


  • And this is the third day I hear that she hath closed her lovely lips and denied her chaste body all sustenance, eager to hide her suffering and reach death's cheerless bourn.


  • Who would fardels bare to grunt and sweat under a weary life but that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than to fly to ones that we know not of?

    shakespearean costume - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Yeast. An old provincial term from Essex.

    May 4, 2011

  • “When he was nineteen, in Massachusetts, he was Lord Mountararat in “Iolanthe”. Now he is Hal Doyne-Lear on the chalky bourn—Gloucester with eyes.”

    “Season on the Chalk” by John McPhee, in Silk Parachute, p 35

    June 20, 2010