Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

The Best Internet Slang

overwhelm

[oh-ver-hwelm, -welm] /ˌoʊ vərˈʰwɛlm, -ˈwɛlm/
verb (used with object)
1.
to overcome completely in mind or feeling:
overwhelmed by remorse.
2.
to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush:
Roman troops were overwhelmed by barbarians.
3.
to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge:
Lava from erupting Vesuvius overwhelmed the city of Pompeii.
4.
to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything:
a child overwhelmed with presents; to overwhelm someone with questions.
5.
to overthrow.
Origin of overwhelm
1300-1350
Middle English word dating back to 1300-50; See origin at over-, whelm
Related forms
unoverwhelmed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for overwhelm
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As for Garson, once again the surge of feeling threatened to overwhelm his self-control.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • His intention was not to overwhelm his wife with bitter reproaches.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Powerful tribes, like the Romans, Saxons and Normans, have tried to overwhelm them.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • We should indeed survey and prepare for danger, but we should never suffer it to overwhelm us.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • The mud of those greasy streets had risen up all around to overwhelm him!

British Dictionary definitions for overwhelm

overwhelm

/ˌəʊvəˈwɛlm/
verb (transitive)
1.
to overpower the thoughts, emotions, or senses of
2.
to overcome with irresistible force
3.
to overcome, as with a profusion or concentration of something
4.
to cover over or bury completely
5.
to weigh or rest upon overpoweringly
6.
(archaic) to overturn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for overwhelm
v.

early 14c., "to turn upside down, to overthrow," from over- + Middle English whelmen "to turn upside down" (see whelm). Meaning "to submerge completely" is mid-15c. Perhaps the connecting notion is a boat, etc., washed over, and overset, by a big wave. Figurative sense of "to bring to ruin" is attested from 1520s. Related: Overwhelmed; overwhelming; overwhelmingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for overwhelm

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for overwhelm

20
22
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for overwhelm