Examples of timber in a Sentence
upon our approach the deer disappeared back into the timber from whence it had come
needed a new load of timber to finish building the house
timber and timbre
Timber and timbre are two similar-looking words that appear in very different contexts. At least most of the time.
Timber traces back to an Old English word initially meaning “house” or “building” that also came to mean “building material,” “wood,” and “trees” or “woods.” Timbers are large squared lengths of wood used for building a house or a boat. In British English, timber is also used as a synonym for lumber.
Metaphorical senses followed after centuries of the word’s use: the word used for building material became a word meaning “material” or “stuff” in general (“it’s best-seller timber”) and came also to refer to the qualities of character, experience, or intellect (“managerial timber”).
And, of course, there’s also the interjectional use of “timber!” as a cry to warn of a falling tree; the fact that most people know this despite few of them ever having deployed the word in such a situation is almost certainly due to cartoons.
Timbre is French in origin, which is apparent in its pronunciation: it is often pronounced \TAM-ber\ and, with a more French-influenced second syllable, \TAM-bruh\. The French ancestor of timbre was borrowed at three different times into English, each time with a different meaning, each time reflecting the evolution that the word had made in French.
The first two meanings timbre had in English (it referred to a kind of drum and to the crest on a coat of arms) are now too obscure for entry in this dictionary, but its third meaning survives. Timbre in modern English generally refers to the quality of a sound made by a particular voice or musical instrument; timbre is useful in being distinct from pitch, intensity, and loudness as a descriptor of sound.
But because English is rarely simple about such things, we have also these facts: timber is listed as a variant spelling of timbre. And timbre may also be correctly pronounced just like timber as \TIM-ber\. And the spelling of timber was unsettled for many years; it was sometimes spelled tymmer, tymber, and, yes, timbre. The messy overlapping of these similar words is coincidental: the consequence of the intersection of the different cultures and languages that left their traces on English.
Recent Examples of timber from the Web
The Tudor facade has brick and half timbering walls rising to a steep roof.
Rooms pinwheel off this central opening, each one timbered, clad, coffered or paneled in some local wood and detailed with the meticulous craft of a Japanese tea house, a far cry from modernism’s utilitarian open plan.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'timber.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
TIMBER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of timber for English Language Learners
: trees that are grown in order to produce wood
—used as an interjection to warn people nearby that a cut tree is about to fall
: a large piece of wood that is used to form a part of a building
TIMBER Defined for Kids
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