Definition of encumber in English:



[with object]
  • Restrict or impede (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’
    • ‘While that's part of human nature, it also encumbers real freedom in creating things.’
    • ‘Supporting general practitioners through shared care schemes and training, rather than encumbering them with additional bureaucratic mechanisms that do not improve care, will achieve this.’
    • ‘Rather than encumbering students with facts, the initial emphasis is upon exploration and discovery.’
    • ‘Then, encumbered with cameras, equipment and chemicals for processing, he embarked on a challenging expedition to Russia to photograph a suspension bridge under construction.’
    • ‘My laziness then encumbers me and I suddenly get back to simply vegging out on the couch with a big bowl of junk food and a good book.’
    • ‘The system consists of components effectively integrated to maximize safe aircraft operation and human performance while not encumbering the aircrew.’
    • ‘The heroine is cute but her best lines are lost in hurried delivery; wooden acting and static blocking on everyone's part encumber the flat script.’
    • ‘Why encumber us with an expensive waste contract which will not allow us the benefit of embracing new and inventive ways of looking at and dealing with waste for twenty years to come.’
    • ‘The baroque Italian used for the libretto is complicated and often encumbers the listener, taking away from the melodic tunes of the arias.’
    • ‘This regimen nut only encumbers the clinician, but it can also further distress the patient, especially at night when sleep may be interrupted for dressing care.’
    • ‘They are loath to see future trade pacts subjected to prolonged debate or encumbered with restrictions.’
    • ‘Delaying litigation can encumber our project should we forget that we also work for those we seek to protect.’
    • ‘One shadow was ahead of the group, stumbling over unseen holes and encumbered with what looked like a briefcase.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She quickly scanned the room, pausing as her eyes encountered Landau, troubled memories encumbering her before she turned to regard Damien.’
    • ‘It becomes clear why it was necessary not to encumber the reader with foreshadowing the ending too soon.’
    • ‘She deploys their concepts flexibly and insightfully to enrich the book's content without encumbering its style with jargon.’
    • ‘But it is hard to appreciate the famous smile when you come close to it, since the glass case encumbers your view.’
    • ‘America's unique stature encumbers it with a special responsibility in this regard.’
    • ‘The huge weight that should encumber the use of police violence, especially lethal violence, against members of the public has been lessened.’
    • ‘Scientific and commercial evaluation of novel technologies encumbers product development.’
    • ‘Many are restless, depressed, and encumbered with the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches.’
    • ‘It basically is a lawsuit that's filed that encumbers someone's basic right to free speech.’
    hamper, hinder, obstruct, impede, check, cramp, inhibit, restrict, limit, constrain, restrain, bog down, retard, slow, slow down, stall, delay
    View synonyms


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’.