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[en-kuhm-bruh ns] /ɛnˈkʌm brəns/
something that encumbers; something burdensome, useless, or superfluous; burden; hindrance:
Poverty was a lifelong encumbrance.
a dependent person, especially a child.
Law. a burden or claim on property, as a mortgage.
Also, incumbrance.
Origin of encumbrance
1275-1325; Middle English encombraunce < Middle French encumbrance. See encumber, -ance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for encumbrance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I expected to see the Bee relinquish her mortar and then proceed to remove the encumbrance.

    The Mason-bees J. Henri Fabre
  • The line between an encumbrance and a purpose is not very clearly defined, is it?

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • Whilst something higher than prudence is active, he is admirable; when common sense is wanted, he is an encumbrance.

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • I will take upon myself the convincing of the encumbrance to that effect.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards Joseph C. Lincoln
  • His credulity was an encumbrance to the cause which it was his mission and his wish to serve.

    The History of Freedom John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
  • They are often an embarrassment and an encumbrance to it rather than a help.

    English Past and Present Richard Chevenix Trench
  • And I not only protest against this term of "encumbrance," but I protest against the manner in which children are treated.

    Letters of Peregrine Pickle George P. Upton
  • It is conveniently arranged, and you soon forget it as an encumbrance.

  • She wished to be Lady So-and-So, with a delicate halo of tragic glory, and no encumbrance.

    The Following of the Star Florence L. Barclay
British Dictionary definitions for encumbrance


a thing that impedes or is burdensome; hindrance
(law) a burden or charge upon property, such as a mortgage or lien
(rare) a dependent person, esp a child
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for encumbrance

a lien, mortgage, or other financial claim against a property

Word Origin

Old French en- + combre 'dam, weir''s 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for encumbrance

early 14c., from Old French encombrance, from encombrer (see encumber).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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