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A stack of wooden lumber
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Exact origin unknown. The earliest recorded reference was to heavy, useless objects such as old, discarded furniture. Perhaps from the verb lumber in reference to meaning "awkward to move". Possibly influenced by Lumbar, an obsolete variant of Lombard, the Italian immigrant class known for being pawnbrokers and money-lenders in early England.



lumber (usually uncountable, plural lumbers)

  1. (Canada, US, uncountable) Wood intended as a building material.
    • 1782, H. de Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer
      Here they live by fishing on the most plentiful coasts in the world; there they fell trees, by the sides of large rivers, for masts and lumber;
    • 1883, Chester A. Arthur, Third State of the Union Address (4 December 1883).
      The resources of Alaska, especially in fur, mines, and lumber, are considerable in extent and capable of large development, while its geographical situation is one of political and commercial importance.;
  2. (Britain) Useless things that are stored away.
    • 1711, Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism
      The bookful blockhead ignorantly read, / With loads of learned lumber in his head, []
  3. (obsolete) A pawnbroker's shop, or room for storing articles put in pawn; hence, a pledge, or pawn.
    • (Can we date this quote by Lady Murray and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      They put all the little plate they had in the lumber, which is pawning it, till the ships came.
  4. (baseball, slang) A baseball bat.




lumber (third-person singular simple present lumbers, present participle lumbering, simple past and past participle lumbered)

  1. (intransitive) To move clumsily and heavily; to move slowly.
    • 1816, Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary
      ...he was only apprized of the arrival of the Monkbarns division by the gee-hupping of the postilion, as the post-chaise lumbered up behind him.
    • 2002, Russell Allen, "Incantations of the Apprentice", on Symphony X, The Odyssey.
      Through eerie reach of ancient woods / Where lumbering mists arise / I journey for nines moons of the year / To where a land of legend lies
  2. (transitive, with with) To load down with things, to fill, to encumber, to impose an unwanted burden on
    They’ve lumbered me with all these suitcases.
    I got lumbered with that boring woman all afternoon.
  3. To heap together in disorder.
    • (Can we date this quote by Rymer and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      stuff lumbered together
  4. To fill or encumber with lumber.
    to lumber up a room

Related terms[edit]