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[tim-ber] /ˈtɪm bər/
the wood of growing trees suitable for structural uses.
growing trees themselves.
wooded land.
wood, especially when suitable or adapted for various building purposes.
a single piece of wood forming part of a structure or the like:
A timber fell from the roof.
Nautical. (in a ship's frame) one of the curved pieces of wood that spring upward and outward from the keel; rib.
personal character or quality:
He's being talked up as presidential timber.
Sports. a wooden hurdle, as a gate or fence, over which a horse must jump in equestrian sports.
verb (used with object)
to furnish with timber.
to support with timber.
verb (used without object)
to fell timber, especially as an occupation.
a lumberjack's call to warn those in the vicinity that a cut tree is about to fall to the ground.
Origin of timber
before 900; Middle English, Old English: orig., house, building material; cognate with German Zimmer room, Old Norse timbr timber; akin to Gothic timrjan, Greek démein to build. See dome
Related forms
timberless, adjective
timbery, adjective
Can be confused
timber, timbre. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for timber
  • Until trees are grown specifically for fuel, timber harvesting won't need to divert high quality wood to energy production.
  • Environmentalists prevent us from using down timber from national forests, so the wood rots.
  • It also includes magnificent stands of old-growth trees coveted by timber companies.
  • The big trees were all gone, cut by a timber company.
  • The article says these trees could provide a boost to timber sales.
  • The timber industry claims to be in favour of controls on illegal logging.
  • The first timber will be harvested by the villagers from this month.
  • Sanctions were only recently lifted on timber and diamonds and iron-ore production has yet to restart.
  • The timber baron sits behind a desk of ebony, in a palisander chair, surrounded by palisander walls and ceiling and floor.
  • We can all do our bit as consumers by choosing only products made from local timber.
British Dictionary definitions for timber


  1. wood, esp when regarded as a construction material Usual US and Canadian word lumber
  2. (as modifier): a timber cottage
  1. trees collectively
  2. (mainly US) woodland
a piece of wood used in a structure
(nautical) a frame in a wooden vessel
potential material, for a post, rank, etc: he is managerial timber
(transitive) to provide with timbers
a lumberjack's shouted warning when a tree is about to fall
Word Origin
Old English; related to Old High German zimbar wood, Old Norse timbr timber, Latin domus house
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 timber

Old English timber "building, structure," later "building material, trees suitable for building," and "wood in general," from Proto-Germanic *temran (cf. Old Frisian timber "wood, building," Old High German zimbar "timber, wooden dwelling, room," Old Norse timbr "timber," German Zimmer "room"), from PIE *demrom-, from root *dem-/*dom- "build" (source of Greek domos, Latin domus; see domestic (adj.)).

The related Old English verb timbran, timbrian was the chief word for "to build" (cf. Dutch timmeren, German zimmern). As a call of warning when a cut tree is about to fall, it is attested from 1912 in Canadian English. Timbers in the nautical slang sense (see shiver (n.)) is from the specialized meaning "pieces of wood composing the frames of a ship's hull" (1748).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for timber

till one is blue in the face

adverb phrase

Until one is able to do no more; to the point of helpless exhaustion: Hail and beware the dead who will talk life until you are blue in the face

[1864+; fr the facial blueness or darkening symptomatic of choking]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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