BOURNE (southern form of burn, Teutonic born, brun, burna), an intermittent stream frequent in chalk and limestone country where the rock becomes saturated with winter rain, that slowly drains away until the rock becomes dry, when the stream ceases. A heavy rainfall will cause streams to run in winter from the saturated soil. These are the winter bournes that have given name to several settlements upon Salisbury Plain, such as Winterbourne Gunning. The "bourne" may also be a permanent "burn," but the word is usually applied to an intermittent stream. (2) (From the Fr. borne), a boundary; the first use of the word in English is in Lord Ferrers' translation of Forrest, 1523; the figurative meaning of limit, end or final destination comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "the undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveller returns."
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)