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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 whelming
Historical Examples
  • His moment had come, he thought swiftly, as one thinks when facing a sudden, whelming event.

    Skyrider B. M. Bower
  • I hear the myriad falsehoods you have told—one whelming confusion.

    A Ladder of Swords Gilbert Parker
  • The last visitation was too whelming even for the Job-like resignation of Ben Abir.

    The Weird Orient Henry Iliowizi
  • Sanding: The continuance of the metaphor in "higher waves" are "whelming."

    The Vision of Sir Launfal James Russell Lowell
  • The battle continued to rage along the line, the elements of fire, water, wind and earth being wielded with whelming impetuosity.

    The Weird Orient Henry Iliowizi
  • In their whelming presence Babbitt felt small and insignificant.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • He knew a longing to give, a passion to protect her, a whelming desire to have shy secrets with this slim girl.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • So Torcall the Harper moved into the whelming flood, and he played a wild strange air, like the laughing of a child.

    The Washer of the Ford Fiona Macleod
  • It was the very wantonness of woe that swept over my heart, whelming it with terrible desolation!

    The Bandolero Mayne Reid
  • The Emperor's lance splintered; he fought with a pole-axe; still even he became sensible of a whelming pressure.

British Dictionary definitions for whelming


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 whelming



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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