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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for whelmed
Historical Examples
  • Her crests and peaks, her vales and plains, lie white and whelmed with snow.

    The Masque of the Elements Herman Scheffauer
  • The next instant he was whelmed in the avalanche of her words.

    His Unquiet Ghost Charles Egbert Craddock (AKA Mary Noailles Murfree)
  • In another moment Bax was whelmed in spray and knee-deep in rushing water.

    The Lifeboat R.M. Ballantyne
  • The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the blackest shade.

  • The rider in that cariole is so whelmed in furs as to be absolutely invisible.

    The Big Otter R.M. Ballantyne
  • All the flowers, with which you are whelmed in profusion, will one day bear fruit.

  • It looked as though a match-factory had been whelmed by a landslip.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • The apprehension was whelmed in the possessing movement with which he drew me to his breast.

    A Woman of Genius Mary Austin
  • How can I, whelmed by a flux of talk, meditate upon the Way?'

    Kim Rudyard Kipling
  • All the thunder of heaven could not have whelmed me like those words.

    Helmet of Navarre Bertha Runkle
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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