[ en-kuhm-ber ]
See synonyms for: encumberencumberedencumbering on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to impede or hinder; hamper: Red tape encumbers all our attempts at action.

  2. to block up or fill with what is obstructive or superfluous: a mind encumbered with trivial and useless information.

  1. to burden or weigh down: She was encumbered with a suitcase and several packages.

  2. to burden with obligations, debt, etc.

Origin of encumber

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English encombren, encombre, encomber, from Anglo-French, Middle French encombrer, equivalent to en- prefix + -combrer, verbal derivative of combre “dam, weir,” from early Medieval Latin combrus, from Gaulish comberos (unrecorded) “confluence, bringing together” (compare Quimper, in Brittany, from Breton Kemper ); see en-1, com-, bear1
  • Sometimes in·cum·ber [in-kuhm-ber] /ɪnˈkʌm bər/ .

Other words from encumber

  • en·cum·ber·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·en·cum·bered, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use encumber in a sentence

  • Were he but free from these encumbering robes; were he but a man like the poet or the Chevalier!

    The Grey Cloak | Harold MacGrath

British Dictionary definitions for encumber



/ (ɪnˈkʌmbə) /

  1. to hinder or impede; make difficult; hamper: encumbered with parcels after going shopping at Christmas; his stupidity encumbers his efforts to learn

  2. to fill with superfluous or useless matter

  1. to burden with debts, obligations, etc

Origin of encumber

C14: from Old French encombrer, from en- 1 + combre a barrier, from Late Latin combrus, of uncertain origin

Derived forms of encumber

  • encumberingly or incumberingly, adverb

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