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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.
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 timbers
  • Guide wheels that ran along restraining timbers within the tower kept the cradle from swinging back and forth.
  • Now scientists have found a way to let ancient timbers tell their secrets.
  • Yet there were no collapsed timbers indicating that the structure ever had a roof.
  • The dimensions given are the cross-sectional dimensions of the timbers prior to one corner being bevelled.
  • Second, breaker and roadway timbers are to be noted on the sketch.
  • timbers are easier to work with because they do not require notching.
  • However, timbers do not have the same rustic quality as logs.
  • Rough-sawn timbers are splintery, and some species of wood are more prone to splinter than others.
  • Drill holes in the new timbers to mount the timbers onto the cradle.
  • timbers are sometimes used instead of logs for sleepers.
British Dictionary definitions for timbers


  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 timbers



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 timbers

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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