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overwhelming

[oh-ver-hwel-ming, -wel-] /ˌoʊ vərˈʰwɛl mɪŋ, -ˈwɛl-/
adjective
1.
that overwhelms; overpowering:
The temptation to despair may become overwhelming.
2.
so great as to render resistance or opposition useless:
an overwhelming majority.
Origin of overwhelming
1565-1575
First recorded in 1565-75; overwhelm + -ing2
Related forms
overwhelmingly, adverb
overwhelmingness, noun

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
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.
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Examples from the Web for overwhelming
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mr. Gladstone was returned again for Midlothian by an overwhelming majority.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • Smitten to the heart by a sudden and overwhelming remorse, Hetty was speechless.

  • And what overwhelming success attends the efforts of the Jesuits!

  • There were too many of the enemy, and overwhelming reinforcements could be expected any moment.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • The Mercutians will be back soon in overwhelming force, burning for revenge.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
British Dictionary definitions for overwhelming

overwhelming

/ˌəʊvəˈwɛlmɪŋ/
adjective
1.
overpowering in effect, number, or force
Derived Forms
overwhelmingly, adverb

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
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Word Origin and History for overwhelming

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
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