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encumber

[en-kuhm-ber] /ɛnˈkʌm bər/
verb (used with object)
1.
to impede or hinder; hamper; retard:
Red tape encumbers all our attempts at action.
2.
to block up or fill with what is obstructive or superfluous:
a mind encumbered with trivial and useless information.
3.
to burden or weigh down:
She was encumbered with a suitcase and several packages.
4.
to burden with obligations, debt, etc.
Also, incumber.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English encombren < Anglo-French, Middle French encombrer, equivalent to en- en-1 + -combrer, verbal derivative of combre dam, weir < early Medieval Latin combrus < Gaulish *comberos confluence, bringing together (compare Quimper, in Brittany < Breton Kemper); see com-, bear1
Related forms
encumberingly, adverb
unencumbered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for encumber
  • He said the campaign did not encumber the public funds in any way.
  • The fact that there are so many people from different political orientations should enhance the debating, not encumber it.
British Dictionary definitions for encumber

encumber

/ɪnˈkʌmbə/
verb (transitive)
1.
to hinder or impede; make difficult; hamper: encumbered with parcels after going shopping at Christmas, his stupidity encumbers his efforts to learn
2.
to fill with superfluous or useless matter
3.
to burden with debts, obligations, etc
Derived Forms
encumberingly, incumberingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French encombrer, from en-1 + combre a barrier, from Late Latin combrus, of uncertain origin
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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Word Origin and History for encumber
v.

early 14c., "burden, vex, inconvenience," from Old French encombrer "to block up, hinder, thwart," from Late Latin incombrare, from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + combrus "barricade, obstacle," probably from Latin cumulus "heap." Meaning "hinder, hamper" is attested in English from late 14c. Related: Encumbered; encumbering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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