Definition of encumber in English:



  • 1 Restrict 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’
    • ‘She quickly scanned the room, pausing as her eyes encountered Landau, troubled memories encumbering her before she turned to regard Damien.’
    • ‘Delaying litigation can encumber our project should we forget that we also work for those we seek to protect.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then, encumbered with cameras, equipment and chemicals for processing, he embarked on a challenging expedition to Russia to photograph a suspension bridge under construction.’
    • ‘One shadow was ahead of the group, stumbling over unseen holes and encumbered with what looked like a briefcase.’
    • ‘But it is hard to appreciate the famous smile when you come close to it, since the glass case encumbers your view.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They are loath to see future trade pacts subjected to prolonged debate or encumbered with restrictions.’
    • ‘She deploys their concepts flexibly and insightfully to enrich the book's content without encumbering its style with jargon.’
    • ‘Rather than encumbering students with facts, the initial emphasis is upon exploration and discovery.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Scientific and commercial evaluation of novel technologies encumbers product development.’
    • ‘The huge weight that should encumber the use of police violence, especially lethal violence, against members of the public has been lessened.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It basically is a lawsuit that's filed that encumbers someone's basic right to free speech.’
    • ‘Many are restless, depressed, and encumbered with the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘America's unique stature encumbers it with a special responsibility in this regard.’
    • ‘It becomes clear why it was necessary not to encumber the reader with foreshadowing the ending too soon.’
    • ‘The baroque Italian used for the libretto is complicated and often encumbers the listener, taking away from the melodic tunes of the arias.’
    hamper, hinder, obstruct, impede, check, cramp, inhibit, restrict, limit, constrain, restrain, bog down, retard, slow, slow down, stall, delay
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    1. 1.1Saddle (a person or estate) with a debt or mortgage.
      ‘an estate heavily encumbered with debt’
      • ‘First, she reports, the young man, encumbered with debt, ‘sold us’ to his evil cousin.’
      • ‘In the context of family property there are legislative restrictions on the extent to which one party can encumber it other than in the context of acquiring it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The house, however, was not always encumbered.’
      • ‘Mr and Mrs Davies were willing, if necessary, to encumber their house as security to assure his appearance to abide the determination by the Full Federal Court.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The materiality of the alteration flows from a number of factors, first and foremost amongst which is that the alteration encumbers the lease.’
      • ‘In the assignment agreement the project company will make various representations and warranties to the bank as to the enforceability of a project contract, and that it has not otherwise been assigned or encumbered.’
      • ‘Commonly, we mistake our ownership rights, or else we encumber property with titles that are difficult to understand.’
      • ‘Essentially, they are turning student grants into loans and thereby encumbering students with a good deal more personal debt.’
    2. 1.2Fill or block up (a place)
      ‘we tripped over sticks and stones, which encumber most of the trail’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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.