cum·ber·some | \ˈkəm-bər-səm \

Definition of cumbersome 

1 : unwieldy because of heaviness and bulk a cumbersome package

2 : slow-moving : ponderous cumbersome administrative procedures

3 dialect : burdensome, troublesome

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Other Words from cumbersome

cumbersomely adverb
cumbersomeness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for cumbersome


awkward, clumsy, clunky, cranky, cumbrous, ponderous, ungainly, unhandy, unwieldy



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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of cumbersome in a Sentence

Squad members, already decked out in cumbersome chemical suits, put on masks and rubber gloves. — Ray Wilkinson, Newsweek, 11 Mar. 1991 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 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 The application process is cumbersome and time-consuming. Her expanded job title is really cumbersome.
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Recent Examples on the Web

At the European Union level, collaborative defence initiatives tend to be bureaucratic (its Permanent Structured Co-operation, or PESCO, is as cumbersome as its name suggests). The Economist, "Will Donald Trump be Triumphant, Tetchy or Torpedo?," 5 July 2018 But the reality is the credit freeze is not that cumbersome and soon the cost will not be an issue for people. NBC News, "Credit freezes will soon be free for everyone," 14 June 2018 Briefcases are, by their nature, unwieldy and cumbersome and a strain on your arms. Yang-yi Goh, GQ, "The Best Backpacks for Work Will Make You Feel Like a Boss," 14 June 2018 Wrangling onto the ballot by collecting signatures is a cumbersome and often costly undertaking. Daniela Altimari,, "In Governor's Race, Petitions Are In And The Counting Begins," 12 June 2018 Banks, which have complained for years that the rule is too cumbersome and time-consuming, will gain new flexibility in deciding when a trade is too risky if the proposal is finalized. The Washington Post,, "Federal Reserve scales back 'Volcker Rule' limits on bank trading," 30 May 2018 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Justin Sullivan/Getty Images These steps, while cumbersome, can make Google’s surveillance more difficult. Nicholas Economides, Fortune, "Commentary: Facebook Can’t Be Trusted. It’s Time to Regulate It.," 22 Mar. 2018 The standards are cumbersome, and compliance is costly. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Warren Democrats for Wall Street," 5 Mar. 2018 Under Iraq’s cumbersome process, the country’s current President Fouad Massoum — a Kurd who holds a largely ceremonial job — needs to convene parliament within 15 days, which then elects the new president within a month. Vivienne Walt, Time, "Firebrand Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Could Emerge as Kingmaker in Iraq's Lackluster Elections," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cumbersome.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cumbersome

1535, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for cumbersome

see cumber entry 1

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Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for cumbersome

The first known use of cumbersome was in 1535

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More Definitions for cumbersome



English Language Learners 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.


cum·ber·some | \ˈkəm-bər-səm \

Kids Definition of cumbersome

: hard to handle or manage because of size or weight

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Comments on cumbersome

What made you want to look up cumbersome? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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