Try Our Apps


Pore Over vs. Pour Over


[kuhm-ber] /ˈkʌm bər/
verb (used with object)
to hinder; hamper.
to overload; burden.
to inconvenience; trouble.
a hindrance.
something that cumbers.
Archaic. embarrassment; trouble.
Origin of cumber
1250-1300; Middle English cumbre (noun), cumbren (v.), aphetic variant of acumbren to harass, defeat; see encumber
Related forms
cumberer, noun
cumberment, noun
overcumber, verb (used with object)
uncumbered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for cumber
Historical Examples
  • Nor is it a cumber: it being no more than a small portion of rice, and a little sugar and hony.

    Constantinople William Holden Hutton
  • Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is not capacious?

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The sorrows, the “cumber” of which Knox was “alleged” to bear the blame, did not end with his death.

  • We cannot spare the time to take them now, or cumber ourselves with them when taken.

    With Airship and Submarine Harry Collingwood
  • Why complicate and cumber life with relations that do but give a foothold to pain, and offer less than they threaten?

    The History of David Grieve Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • I have not wished to cumber my pages with constant quotations.

  • Two men abreast could not beset him, since one must cumber the movements of the other.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • How much longer is that Joseph to be allowed to cumber London?

    The Angel Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • He was at all times extremely anxious not to cumber the list of pears with worthless varieties.

    The Pears of New York U. P. Hedrick
  • "They were juist a cumber and a care," continued the carrier's wife.

    Cleg Kelly, Arab of the City S. R. (Samuel Rutherford) Crockett
British Dictionary definitions for cumber


verb (transitive)
to obstruct or hinder
(obsolete) to inconvenience
a hindrance or burden
Derived Forms
cumberer, noun
Word Origin
C13: probably from Old French combrer to impede, prevent, from combre barrier; see encumber
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for cumber

c.1300, "to overthrow, destroy; to be overwhelmed; to harass," apparently from French, but Old French combrer "to seize hold of, lay hands on, grab, snatch, take by force, rape," has not quite the same sense. Perhaps a shortened formation from a verb akin to Middle English acombren "obstructing progress," from Old French encombrer, from combre "obstruction, barrier," from Vulgar Latin *comboros "that which is carried together," perhaps from a Gaulish word.

The likely roots are PIE *kom (see com-) + *bher- (1) "to bear" (see infer). Weakened sense of "to hamper, to obstruct or weigh down" is late 14c. Related: Cumbered; cumbering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for cumber

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for cumber

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for cumber