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adjective cum·ber·some \ˈkəm-bər-səm\

Simple Definition of cumbersome

  • : hard to handle or manage because of size or weight

  • : complicated and hard to do

  • : long and difficult to read, say, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cumbersome

  1. 1 dial :  burdensome, troublesome

  2. 2 :  unwieldy because of heaviness and bulk

  3. 3 :  slow-moving :  ponderous

cumbersomely adverb
cumbersomeness noun

Examples of cumbersome in a sentence

  1. Squad members, already decked out in cumbersome chemical suits, put on masks and rubber gloves. —Ray Wilkinson, Newsweek, 11 Mar. 1991

  2. He got the approval of the higher-ups, but the course was scuttled by members of his own department, who devised all kinds of cumbersome, silly requirements and prerequisites. —Alice Munro, New Yorker, 20 Mar. 1989

  3. He cut some segments of the 2" pine but discovered that … a cumbersome system of braces would be needed to hold the sides straight. —John Updike, Couples, 1968

  4. The application process is cumbersome and time-consuming.

  5. Her expanded job title is really cumbersome.

Origin of cumbersome

(see 1cumber)

First Known Use: 1535

Synonym Discussion of cumbersome

heavy, weighty, ponderous, cumbrous, cumbersome mean having great weight. heavy implies that something has greater density or thickness than the average of its kind or class <a heavy child for his age>. weighty suggests having actual and not just relative weight <a load of weighty boxes>. ponderous implies having great weight because of size and massiveness with resulting great inertia <ponderous elephants in a circus parade>. cumbrous and cumbersome imply heaviness and bulkiness that make for difficulty in grasping, moving, carrying, or manipulating <wrestled with the cumbrous furniture> <early cameras were cumbersome and inconvenient>.

CUMBERSOME Defined for Kids


adjective cum·ber·some \ˈkəm-bər-səm\

Definition of cumbersome for Students

  1. :  hard to handle or manage because of size or weight

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to expose to danger or risk

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