A burden or serious concern is an encumbrance. Your being five feet tall could be an encumbrance when it comes to your dream of playing professional basketball.

Something that blocks you from doing what you want to do is an encumbrance, like the rocky soil in your garden that makes it impossible for you to grow tomatoes. A burden or hindrance can also be an encumbrance, the way wearing thick knitted mittens makes it harder for you to dial your cell phone — your mittens are an encumbrance. The word comes from the Latin word incombrare, which means "barricade or obstacle."

Definitions of encumbrance
  1. noun
    an onerous or difficult concern
    synonyms: burden, incumbrance, load, onus
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    dead weight
    an oppressive encumbrance
    a burden (figuratively in the form of a bundle)
    an uncalled-for burden
    something unpleasant or offensive that must be tolerated or endured
    type of:
    concern, headache, vexation, worry
    something or someone that causes anxiety; a source of unhappiness
  2. noun
    any obstruction that impedes or is burdensome
    synonyms: hinderance, hindrance, hitch, incumbrance, interference, preventative, preventive
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    any object that acts as a hindrance or obstruction
    speed bump
    a hindrance to speeding created by a crosswise ridge in the surface of a roadway
    type of:
    impediment, impedimenta, obstructer, obstruction, obstructor
    any structure that makes progress difficult
  3. noun
    a charge against property (as a lien or mortgage)
    synonyms: incumbrance
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    type of:
    financial liabilities (such as a tax)
Word Family

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