Word of the Day – Cumbersome

Hey! It’s me, Jamie, of the Word of the Day podcast. It’s the show where we take useful (but sadly underused) words and explain how awesome they are, and why it really isn’t too tough to incorporate them into everyday conversation or writing.

(Learn more about how the show can help out teachers here, and why podcasts are great for the classroom here.)

I’m excited to feature a few of the words from the show here on Fractus Learning! If you find these fun, you’ll probably like the podcast too.

Here we go!

“Cumbersome” is an adjective, and I’d say it means, “annoyingly impractical or difficult, often with respect to handling physical objects.”

So, you might say that carrying three cantaloupes to your car without a grocery bag is very cumbersome: It’s very clumsy and awkward, and you’ll probably drop one, and while trying to keep it from falling, you’ll drop the other two.

Likewise, cumbersome can refer to processes or tasks that are annoying and complex and time-consuming, like maybe selecting a password that contains the required mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, punctuation, numbers, emojis and car engine noises, and then having to change that password every 90 days. This isn’t tangible, and it isn’t a heavy object, but it’s still a serious pain. That’s why it still counts as cumbersome.

Example #1
– Andrew flew a lot for business, and he liked to bring his unicycle along for exercise. He did, however, find it very cumbersome to jam into the overhead bin.

Example #2
– Privately, Lucas thought peeling the skin off grapes was unnecessary, and certainly cumbersome, but his niece preferred them that way, so he obliged.

Example #3
–  The enormous, decaying potted plant in the office was turning into an eyesore. But since it would be too cumbersome to drag it down the hall and into the narrow elevator, it just stayed next to the printer, gradually browning and shedding leaves until it no longer even offered shade from the harsh glare of the florescent lights overhead.

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