Lumber vs lumbar

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Lumber and lumbar are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, but have different meanings. They are often confused. We will examine the definitions of lumber and lumbar, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Lumber is timber or wood that is cut in order to make it ready for use as building materials. In this sense, it may be used as a noun or a verb. Lumber is also used as a verb to mean move slowly and clumsily. Related words are lumbers, lumbered, lumbering. The word lumber is assumed to have been derived from the word Lombard, a term for an Italian underclass living in England, primarily involved in he pawnbroker business.

Lumbar is an adjective that is used when referring to the lower back. It is derived from the Latin word lumbus, which means loins.


Walter Kissel, 56, Lancaster, was operating a lumber truck on Route 419 just east of Boyd Street at 2:57 p.m. Monday when he got too far off to the right side of the roadway and struck a utility pole, shearing it off, police said. (The Lebanon Daily News)

It’s the energy policy debate that has lumbered on for months without resolution. (The Guardian)

I watched one of the polar bears lumbering back and forth in a beautifully choreographed bit of pacing not a foot away from a blissfully cool deep pool and thinking to myself I wish I could get behind Ms. Bear and push her in. (The Columbia Daily Tribune)

In the Nuggets’ announcement that their 2018 first-round pick underwent lumbar spine surgery, the franchise offered no timeline for his return. (The Kansas City Star)

Though it is generally difficult to manage and medical relief can be elusive, for a group of back pain sufferers afflicted with a condition called lumbar stenosis, surgical therapies can be extremely successful in reducing pain.  (The Baxter Bulletin)