en·​cum·​brance | \ in-ˈkəm-brən(t)s How to pronounce encumbrance (audio) \

Definition of encumbrance

1 : something that encumbers : impediment, burden
2 : a claim (such as a mortgage) against property

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Examples of encumbrance in a Sentence

without the encumbrance of a heavy backpack, I could sprint along the trail
Recent Examples on the Web Freed from the encumbrances of physical infrastructure, fitness can happen anywhere, in any form, anytime. Michael Owen, The Atlantic, "Will We Ever Get the Gym Back?," 29 May 2020 The querying feeling is basically gone: In its stead is a polished cohesion, the reassurance of something executed crisply and masterfully, almost without encumbrance. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber’s Slow Dance, and 10 More New Songs," 8 May 2020 Late August through the end of September is the best time to make major changes that free you from past encumbrances and give you a leg up in with your career. oregonlive, "Horoscope for March 28, 2020: Happy birthday Julia Stiles; Capricorn, relax, enjoy some hobbies," 28 Mar. 2020 Proposed appropriations in the General Fund, including encumbrances, will be approximately $25.2 million. Beth Mlady, cleveland, "Preliminary budget talks begin in Brook Park," 16 Mar. 2020 Perhaps most important, land banks have the power to clear title to its parcels of liens and other encumbrances that would normally inhibit a resale. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Land Bank admits faults, carries on amid complaints it moves too slowly," 3 Dec. 2019 Perhaps the Prius’ greatest accomplishment — making hybrid technology mainstream — is now its greatest encumbrance. Bloomberg, Twin Cities, "Prius sales are falling, but hybrids are more popular than ever," 3 June 2019 Musk points out that with shipping-container farms, which lock out all the traditional encumbrances of farming—drought, locusts, 24-hour cycles of day and night—optimization of food is possible. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Kimbal Musk Is Reinventing Food One Shipping Container at a Time," 24 Oct. 2018 That might sound nice to Trump: a Supreme Court justice who’s sympathetic to the encumbrance of an ongoing investigation. Jen Kirby, Vox, "7 legal experts on how Kavanaugh views executive power — and what it could mean for Mueller," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'encumbrance.' 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 encumbrance

1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for encumbrance

Time Traveler

The first known use of encumbrance was in 1535

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Statistics for encumbrance

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Encumbrance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encumbrance. Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for encumbrance



Financial Definition of encumbrance

What It Is

An encumbrance is a limitation on the ownership of a property.

How It Works

In the real estate world, an encumbrance is similar to a lien. The bond world also includes encumbrances. For instance, let's consider a $100 million bond issue by Company XYZ. Let's say that Company XYZ is willing to pledge $100 million of its assets to the bondholders (that is, let the bondholders place liens on specific assets that they may seize in the event of default), giving them a little extra assurance that they will be paid on time. In that case, the bonds would be considered securitized or asset-backed because the assets have $100 million of encumbrances on them.

Why It Matters

Encumbrances provide security to lenders and bond investors in the case of bankruptcy or default. For example, it is important to note that debentures (bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the issuer) do not have encumbrances. That is, they are not secured by specific pieces of property or collateral and they do have a general claim on the assets and earnings of the issuer. Therefore, if the issuer were to liquidate, the holders of the debenture bonds have a claim on any assets not specifically pledged to secure other debt.

Companies that are extremely creditworthy often have no reason to encumber specific assets in order to sell a bond issue because they'll still pay relatively low interest rates. (This is why debentures can sometimes sell for more than bonds with encumbrances from less creditworthy issuers.) Sometimes issuers also want to leave their assets unencumbered in order to make future financings possible.

Source: Investing Answers


variants: also incumbrance \ in-​ˈkəm-​brəns \

Legal Definition of encumbrance

: a claim (as a lien) against property specifically : an interest or right (as an easement or a lease) in real property that may diminish the value of the estate but does not prevent the conveyance of the estate that these premises are free from all encumbrances

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More from Merriam-Webster on encumbrance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for encumbrance

Spanish Central: Translation of encumbrance

Nglish: Translation of encumbrance for Spanish Speakers

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