tr.v. en·cum·bered, en·cum·ber·ing, en·cum·bers
1. To cause to have difficulty in moving or in accomplishing something; burden: a hiker encumbered with a heavy pack; a student encumbered with responsibilities.
2. To hinder or impede the action or performance of: restrictions that encumber police work. See Synonyms at hinder1.
3. To burden with legal or financial obligations: an estate that is encumbered with debts.
[Middle English encombren, from Old French encombrer, to block up : en-, in; see EN-1 + combre, hindrance (from Gaulish *comboros).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.