Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. 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.
  • transitive v. To hinder or impede the action or performance of: restrictions that encumber police work.
  • transitive v. To burden with legal or financial obligations: an estate that is encumbered with debts.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to load down something with a burden
  • v. to restrict or block something with a hindrance or impediment
  • v. to add a legal claim or other obligation

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To impede the motion or action of, as with a burden; to retard with something superfluous; to weigh down; to obstruct or embarrass
  • transitive v. To load with debts, or other legal claims.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To clog or impede with a load, burden, or other hindrance; render difficult or laborious in motion or operation; embarrass; overload; perplex; obstruct.
  • Specifically To place (property) under a charge or servitude; load with debt or liability: as, to encumber an estate with mortgages, or with a widow's dower; an encumbered title. See encumbrance, 3.
  • n. An encumbrance; a hindrance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. hold back

Etymologies

Middle English encombren, from Old French encombrer, to block up : en-, in; see en-1 + combre, hindrance (from Gaulish *comboros).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French encombrer, from en- + combrer ("to hinder"); see cumber. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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