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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 whelming
Historical Examples
  • I hear the myriad falsehoods you have told—one whelming confusion.

    A Ladder of Swords Gilbert Parker
  • Sanding: The continuance of the metaphor in "higher waves" are "whelming."

    The Vision of Sir Launfal James Russell Lowell
  • In their whelming presence Babbitt felt small and insignificant.

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

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

    The Bandolero Mayne Reid
  • Half buried in the whelming tide, the whale-boat dashed through the waves towards the high cliffs of the rocky island.

    The Coming Wave Oliver Optic
  • Set thee down, and I will tell thee of a whelming flood of care, and a double grief.

  • A wave of protective feeling rushed over Selina, new to her but warming and whelming, and she had forgiven them.

    Selina George Madden Martin
  • 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
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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