Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 121 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LUMBER, a word now meaning (2) useless discarded furniture or other rubbish, particularly if of a bulky or heavy character; (2) timber, when roughly sawn or cut into logs or beams (see TIMBER); (3) as a verb, to make a loud rumbling noise, to move in a clumsy heavy way, also to burden with useless material, to encumber. " Lumber " and " lumber-house " were formerly used for a pawnbroker's shop, being in this sense a variant of " Lombard," a name familiar throughout Europe for a banker, money-changer or pawnbroker. This has frequently been taken to be the origin of the word in sense (I), the reference being to the store of unredeemed and unsaleable articles accumulating in pawnbrokers' shops. Skeat adopts this in preference to the connexion with " lumber " in sense (3), but thinks that the word may have been influenced by both sources (Etym. Diet., 1910), This word is probably of Scandinavian origin, and is cognate with a Swedish dialect word lomra, me fining " to roar," a frequentative of ljumma, " to make a noise." The English word may be of native origin and merely onomatopoeic. The New English Dictionary, though admitting the probability of the association with " Lombard," prefers the second proposed derivation. The application of the word to timber is of American origin; the New English Dictionary quotes from Suffolk (Mass.) Deeds of 2662—" Freighted in Boston, with beames . . . boards ... and other lumber."
End of Article: LUMBER

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