Word Origin & History
c.1300, "to overthrow, destroy; to be overwhelmed; to harass," apparently from Fr., but O.Fr. combrer "to seize hold of, lay hands on, grab, snatch, take by force, rape," has not quite the same sense. Perhaps an aphetic formation from a verb akin to M.E. acombren "obstructing progress," from O.Fr. encombrer,
from combre "obstruction, barrier," from V.L. *comboros "that which is carried together," perhaps from a Gaulish word. The 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.