encumber

play
verb en·cum·ber \in-ˈkəm-bər\

Definition of encumber

encumbered

;

encumbering

play \in-ˈkəm-b(ə-)riŋ\
  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  weigh down, burden tourists encumbered by heavy luggage

  3. 2 :  to impede or hamper the function or activity of :  hinder negotiations encumbered by a lack of trust

  4. 3 :  to burden with a legal claim (such as a mortgage) encumber an estate

encumber was our Word of the Day on 06/03/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of encumber in a Sentence

  1. These rules will only encumber the people we're trying to help.

  2. Lack of funding has encumbered the project.

Recent Examples of encumber from the Web

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

Did You Know?

In Old French, the noun "combre" meant a defensive obstacle formed by felled trees with sharpened branches facing the enemy. Later, in Middle French, "combre" referred to a barrier, similar to a dam or weir, constructed in the bed of a river to hold back fish or protect the banks. That notion of holding back is what informs our verb "encumber," formed by combining en- and combre. One can be physically encumbered (as by a heavy load or severe weather), or figuratively (as by bureaucratic restrictions). "Combre" also gives us the adjectives "cumbersome" and "cumbrous," both meaning "awkward or difficult to handle."

Origin and Etymology of encumber

Middle English encombren, from Anglo-French encumbrer, from en- + Middle French combre dam, weir


First Known Use: 14th century


ENCUMBER Defined for English Language Learners

encumber

play
verb

Definition of encumber for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone or something) hold or carry something heavy

  • : to cause problems or difficulties for (someone or something)


ENCUMBER Defined for Kids

encumber

play
verb en·cum·ber \in-ˈkəm-bər\

Definition of encumber for Students

encumbered

;

encumbering

  1. 1 :  to weigh down :  burden Their heavy coats encumbered the children.

  2. 2 :  to cause problems or delays for :  hinder Bad weather encumbered the building project.


Law Dictionary

encumber

transitive verb en·cum·ber \in-ˈkəm-bər\
variants: also

incumber

\in-ˈkəm-bər\

Legal Definition of encumber

encumbered

encumbering

  1. :  to burden with a claim (as a mortgage or lien) encumbered the land with a mineral lease



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