[ en-kuhm-ber ]
/ ɛnˈkʌm bər /

verb (used with object)

to impede or hinder; hamper; retard: Red tape encumbers all our attempts at action.
to block up or fill with what is obstructive or superfluous: a mind encumbered with trivial and useless information.
to burden or weigh down: She was encumbered with a suitcase and several packages.
to burden with obligations, debt, etc.
Also incumber.

Origin of encumber

1300–50; Middle English encombren < Anglo-French, Middle French encombrer, equivalent to en- en-1 + -combrer, verbal derivative of combre dam, weir < early Medieval Latin combrus < Gaulish *comberos confluence, bringing together (compare Quimper, in Brittany < Breton Kemper); see com-, bear1
Related formsen·cum·ber·ing·ly, adverbun·en·cum·bered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for encumber



/ (ɪnˈkʌmbə) /

verb (tr)

to hinder or impede; make difficult; hamperencumbered with parcels after going shopping at Christmas; his stupidity encumbers his efforts to learn
to fill with superfluous or useless matter
to burden with debts, obligations, etc

Derived Formsencumberingly or incumberingly, adverb

Word Origin for encumber

C14: from Old French encombrer, from en- 1 + combre a barrier, from Late Latin combrus, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012