Definition of encumber in English:

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Pronunciation: /inˈkəmbər/
Pronunciation: /enˈkəmbər/


[with object]
1Restrict or burden (someone or something) in such a way that free action or movement is difficult: she was encumbered by her heavy skirts they had arrived encumbered with families
More example sentences
  • Patients would enjoy a free choice of provider, and doctors and nurses would be freed from the massive bureaucracy that encumbers care and wastes money.
  • Delaying litigation can encumber our project should we forget that we also work for those we seek to protect.
  • It basically is a lawsuit that's filed that encumbers someone's basic right to free speech.
hamper, hinder, obstruct, impede, cramp, inhibit, restrict, limit, constrain, restrain, bog down, retard, slow (down);
inconvenience, disadvantage, handicap
1.1Saddle (a person or estate) with a debt or mortgage: an estate heavily encumbered with debt
More example sentences
  • First, she reports, the young man, encumbered with debt, ‘sold us’ to his evil cousin.
  • At the outset of the trial I invited Louise to make submissions as to whether the matrimonial home should be further encumbered with a substantial mortgage to permit her to retain counsel.
  • Title to allotments was held in trust by the government for twenty-five years, during which time the land could not be sold or encumbered.
1.2Fill or block up (a place): we tripped over sticks and stones, which encumber most of the trail
More example sentences
  • All that lifted from the black soil was the gnarled, thick roots of the sinister trees, encumbering their path, some roots so large that they had to be scaled.
  • The beach is heavily overgrown with Amorpha fruticosa, a non-native invasive shrub, and encumbered with a heavy load of driftwood.
  • Evan had to pick his way through the room, followed by Alex, until they reached the slightly less encumbered hallway.


Middle English (in the sense 'cause trouble to, entangle'; formerly also as incumber): from Old French encombrer 'block up', from en- 'in' + combre 'river barrage'.

Words that rhyme with encumber

Columba, cumber, Humber, lumbar, lumber, number, outnumber, rumba, slumber, umber

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: en·cum·ber

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