Origin of timber

before 900; Middle English, Old English: orig., house, building material; cognate with German Zimmer room, Old Norse timbr timber; akin to Gothic timrjan, Greek démein to build. See dome
Related formstim·ber·less, adjectivetim·ber·y, adjective
Can be confusedtimber timbre
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for timber

Contemporary Examples of timber

Historical Examples of timber

  • Me and Lawyer Fillmore has been a-lookin' into them deeds, and this timber is mine;' and he driv off.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • She always seemed natural to me; and I had got to know every timber and stick about her.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • This process was continued through the whole length of the timber.

  • The first timber was drawn by a rope, and floated to its place.

  • The timber growth—­none at all or very scanty spruce and tamarack.

British Dictionary definitions for timber



  1. wood, esp when regarded as a construction materialUsual US and Canadian word: lumber
  2. (as modifier)a timber cottage
  1. trees collectively
  2. mainly USwoodland
a piece of wood used in a structure
nautical a frame in a wooden vessel
potential material, for a post, rank, etche is managerial timber


(tr) to provide with timbers


a lumberjack's shouted warning when a tree is about to fall

Word Origin for timber

Old English; related to Old High German zimbar wood, Old Norse timbr timber, Latin domus house
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 timber

Old English timber "building, structure," later "building material, trees suitable for building," and "wood in general," from Proto-Germanic *temran (cf. Old Frisian timber "wood, building," Old High German zimbar "timber, wooden dwelling, room," Old Norse timbr "timber," German Zimmer "room"), from PIE *demrom-, from root *dem-/*dom- "build" (source of Greek domos, Latin domus; see domestic (adj.)).

The related Old English verb timbran, timbrian was the chief word for "to build" (cf. Dutch timmeren, German zimmern). As a call of warning when a cut tree is about to fall, it is attested from 1912 in Canadian English. Timbers in the nautical slang sense (see shiver (n.)) is from the specialized meaning "pieces of wood composing the frames of a ship's hull" (1748).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper