verb (used with object)

to hinder; hamper.
to overload; burden.
to inconvenience; trouble.


a hindrance.
something that cumbers.
Archaic. embarrassment; trouble.

Origin of cumber

1250–1300; Middle English cumbre (noun), cumbren (v.), aphetic variant of acumbren to harass, defeat; see encumber
Related formscum·ber·er, nouncum·ber·ment, nouno·ver·cum·ber, verb (used with object)un·cum·bered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for uncumbered

Historical Examples of uncumbered

  • Here is the floor of a new wood, yet uncumbered by one year's autumn fall.

  • It was primitive man, riding between the highlands, uncumbered, free to grasp what was before him.


    Mary Hartwell Catherwood

  • At this time it was covered by a fair, open walnut-wood, uncumbered with bush or undergrowth.

British Dictionary definitions for uncumbered


verb (tr)

to obstruct or hinder
obsolete to inconvenience


a hindrance or burden
Derived Formscumberer, noun

Word Origin for cumber

C13: probably from Old French combrer to impede, prevent, from combre barrier; see encumber
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 uncumbered



c.1300, "to overthrow, destroy; to be overwhelmed; to harass," apparently from French, but Old French combrer "to seize hold of, lay hands on, grab, snatch, take by force, rape," has not quite the same sense. Perhaps a shortened formation from a verb akin to Middle English acombren "obstructing progress," from Old French encombrer, from combre "obstruction, barrier," from Vulgar Latin *comboros "that which is carried together," perhaps from a Gaulish word.

The likely roots are PIE *kom (see com-) + *bher- (1) "to bear" (see infer). Weakened sense of "to hamper, to obstruct or weigh down" is late 14c. Related: Cumbered; cumbering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper