• synonyms


[en-kuhm-bruh ns]
See more synonyms for encumbrance on Thesaurus.com
  1. something that encumbers; something burdensome, useless, or superfluous; burden; hindrance: Poverty was a lifelong encumbrance.
  2. a dependent person, especially a child.
  3. Law. a burden or claim on property, as a mortgage.
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Origin of encumbrance

1275–1325; Middle English encombraunce < Middle French encumbrance. See encumber, -ance
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

load, duty, albatross, weight, saddle, handicap, cross, obstruction, guilt, impediment, responsibility, hindrance, millstone, debt, worry

Examples from the Web for encumbrance

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • To Mrs. Beaufort a rival, to Mr. Beaufort an encumbrance on the property.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The line between an encumbrance and a purpose is not very clearly defined, is it?

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • The safest plan is to ascend them without too heavy an encumbrance of theories.

    Mountain Meditations

    L. Lind-af-Hageby

  • I will take upon myself the convincing of the encumbrance to that effect.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • They are often an embarrassment and an encumbrance to it rather than a help.

    English Past and Present

    Richard Chevenix Trench

British Dictionary definitions for encumbrance



  1. a thing that impedes or is burdensome; hindrance
  2. law a burden or charge upon property, such as a mortgage or lien
  3. rare a dependent person, esp a child
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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

Word Origin and History for encumbrance


early 14c., from Old French encombrance, from encombrer (see encumber).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper