- To encumber is defined as to restrain, weigh down, hinder or obstruct.
When a heavy load makes it hard for a wagon to move, this is an example of encumber.
A motorcycle encumbered with baskets.Licensed from iStockPhoto
- to hold back the motion or action of, as with a burden; hinder; hamper
- to fill in such a way as to obstruct; block up; obstruct
- to load or weigh down, as with claims, debts, etc.; burden
Origin: Middle English encombren ; from Old French encombrer: see en- and amp; cumber
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
transitive verb en·cum·bered, en·cum·ber·ing, en·cum·bers
- To put a heavy load on; burden: a hiker who was encumbered with a heavy pack; a life that has always been encumbered with responsibilities.
- To hinder or impede the action or performance of: restrictions that encumber police work.
- To burden with legal or financial obligations: an estate that is encumbered with debts.
Origin: Middle English encombren, from Old French encombrer, to block up : en-, in; see en-1 + combre, hindrance (from Gaulish *comboros).