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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 (uncountable)

  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;
  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.
    • Lady Murray
      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.
    • 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.
  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.
    • Rymer
      stuff lumbered together
  4. To fill or encumber with lumber.
    to lumber up a room

Related terms[edit]