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From Middle English cumbyrsum, cummyrsum; equivalent to cumber (hindrance) +‎ -some.



cumbersome (comparative more cumbersome, superlative most cumbersome)

  1. Burdensome or hindering, as if a weight or drag; vexatious
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter VII, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 54:
      "You can throw off your cumbersome disguise here," said Lucy, though the words could scarcely be distinguished, from her excessive agitation, Evelyn hastily caught up a cloak and cap laid ready for him, and a few minutes brought them into the sitting-room.
  2. Not easily managed or handled; awkward; clumsy.
    Cumbersome machines can endanger operators and slow down production.
  3. Hard, difficult, demanding to handle or get around with.
    A slave’s work was as cumbersome as toiling on the fields, or in the mines.
  4. Inert, lumbering, slow in movement


Derived terms[edit]


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