cum·​ber·​some ˈkəm-bər-səm How to pronounce cumbersome (audio)
: unwieldy because of heaviness and bulk
a cumbersome package
: slow-moving : ponderous
cumbersome administrative procedures
dialect : burdensome, troublesome
cumbersomely adverb
cumbersomeness noun
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Hiring personnel to implement an in-house AI solution is an unlikely solution; building a sales data analysis system is expensive and cumbersome. Doron Aspitz, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 The traditional exam necessitated piles of paper materials being shipped to schools or centers and locked up before test day, a cumbersome process that allowed would-be cheaters easier access to booklets beforehand. USA TODAY, 7 Feb. 2024 The fingerless design and grippy texture allow for a full range of motion without being cumbersome or intrusive. Sarah Bradley, Verywell Health, 5 Feb. 2024 Taking a page from Pete Docter over at Pixar, Kaufman has hatched a creative (if frequently cumbersome) solution for the legions of kids who’ve gone to bed worrying about whatever monsters might be lurking in the scariest corner of their bedrooms. Peter Debruge, Variety, 1 Feb. 2024 Food vendors ubiquitous across the county, such as taco stands, have struggled in the past with the agency’s cumbersome rules, and only a small fraction are believed to have the proper permits. Rebecca Ellis, Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2024 DuVernay’s platform — the character lineup includes Wilkerson’s white husband (Jon Bernthal), her ailing mother (Emily Yancy), and her cousin (Niecy Nash-Betts) — is too cumbersome to win votes. Armond White, National Review, 24 Jan. 2024 Manually managing these records across multiple coins and wallets is a cumbersome task. Shehan Chandrasekera, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 The cumbersome logistics suggest that the playwright isn’t thinking in stage terms. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cumbersome.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see cumber entry 1

First Known Use

1535, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of cumbersome was in 1535

Dictionary Entries Near cumbersome

Cite this Entry

“Cumbersome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


cum·​ber·​some ˈkəm-bər-səm How to pronounce cumbersome (audio)
: hard to handle or manage because of size or weight
cumbersomely adverb
cumbersomeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on cumbersome

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!