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[hwelm, welm] /ʰwɛlm, wɛlm/
verb (used with object)
to submerge; engulf.
to overcome utterly; overwhelm:
whelmed by misfortune.
verb (used without object)
to roll or surge over something, as in becoming submerged.
Origin of whelm
1250-1300; Middle English whelme, apparently blend of dial. whelve (Old English gehwelfan to bend over) and helm2 (v.) (Old English helmian to cover) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for whelmed
Historical Examples
  • But for some dreadful and unabsolved crime, a holy man of those days whelmed all beneath the deep waters.

  • In another moment Bax was whelmed in spray and knee-deep in rushing water.

    The Lifeboat R.M. Ballantyne
  • She thought of him when the rains fell, and prayed that he might not fall ill of fever or be whelmed by a stream.

    The Eagle's Heart Hamlin Garland
  • The rider in that cariole is so whelmed in furs as to be absolutely invisible.

    The Big Otter R.M. Ballantyne
  • The escort of armed men on horseback, together with the mob, followed her on the run and whelmed her with fresh jeers and hisses.

  • All the flowers, with which you are whelmed in profusion, will one day bear fruit.

  • Virginia lingered, whelmed in pity, thrilled by a wonderful womanliness of her who knelt there.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
  • It looked as though a match-factory had been whelmed by a landslip.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • She was at once whelmed in the sunlight, so that she could see nothing, while Walter could almost have counted her eyelashes.

    Home Again George MacDonald
  • The apprehension was whelmed in the possessing movement with which he drew me to his breast.

    A Woman of Genius Mary Austin
British Dictionary definitions for whelmed


verb (transitive) (archaic)
to engulf entirely with or as if with water
another word for overwhelm
Word Origin
C13: whelmen to turn over, of uncertain origin
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 whelmed



c.1300, probably from a parallel form of Old English -hwielfan (West Saxon), -hwelfan (Mercian), in ahwelfan "cover over;" probably altered by association with Old English helmian "to cover" (see helmet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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