from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To cause to have difficulty in moving or in accomplishing something; burden.
  • transitive verb To hinder or impede the action or performance of: synonym: hinder.
  • transitive verb To burden with legal or financial obligations.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An encumbrance; a hindrance.
  • To clog or impede with a load, burden, or other hindrance; render difficult or laborious in motion or operation; embarrass; overload; perplex; obstruct.
  • Specifically To place (property) under a charge or servitude; load with debt or liability: as, to encumber an estate with mortgages, or with a widow's dower; an encumbered title. See encumbrance, 3.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To impede the motion or action of, as with a burden; to retard with something superfluous; to weigh down; to obstruct or embarrass
  • transitive verb To load with debts, or other legal claims.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive to load down something with a burden
  • verb transitive to restrict or block something with a hindrance or impediment
  • verb transitive to add a legal claim or other obligation

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb hold back


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English encombren, from Old French encombrer, to block up : en-, in; see en– + combre, hindrance (from Gaulish *comboros).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French encombrer, from en- + combrer ("to hinder"); see cumber.


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