1. something that encumbers; something burdensome, useless, or superfluous; burden; hindrance: Poverty was a lifelong encumbrance.
  2. a dependent person, especially a child.
  3. Law. a burden or claim on property, as a mortgage.


  1. a thing that impedes or is burdensome; hindrance
  2. law a burden or charge upon property, such as a mortgage or lien
  3. rare a dependent person, esp a child

early 14c., from Old French encombrance, from encombrer (see encumber).

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