[ en-koun-ter ]
See synonyms for: encounterencounteredencounteringencounters on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to come upon or meet with, especially unexpectedly: to encounter a new situation.

  2. to meet with or contend against (difficulties, opposition, etc.): We encounter so many problems in our work.

  1. to meet (a person, military force, etc.) in conflict: We will encounter the enemy at dawn.

verb (used without object)
  1. to meet, especially unexpectedly or in conflict: We were angry when we encountered, but we parted with smiles.

  1. a meeting with a person or thing, especially a casual, unexpected, or brief meeting: Our running into each other was merely a chance encounter.

  2. a meeting of persons or groups that are in conflict or opposition; combat; battle: Another such encounter and we may lose the war.

  1. Psychology. a meeting of two or more people, as the members of an encounter group or a number of married couples (marriage encounter ), conducted to promote direct emotional confrontations among the participants, especially as a form of therapy (encounter therapy ).

Origin of encounter

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English encountren, from Anglo-French enco(u)ntrer, from Vulgar Latin incontrāre (unrecorded), equivalent to in- in-1 + -contrāre, verb suffix derived from contrā “against”; see counter3

Other words from encounter

  • en·coun·ter·er, noun
  • pre·en·coun·ter, noun, verb (used with object)
  • re·en·coun·ter, verb, noun
  • un·en·coun·tered, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use encounter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for encounter


/ (ɪnˈkaʊntə) /

  1. to come upon or meet casually or unexpectedly

  2. to come into conflict with (an enemy, army, etc) in battle or contest

  1. (tr) to be faced with; contend with: he encounters many obstacles in his work

  1. a meeting with a person or thing, esp when casual or unexpected

  2. a hostile meeting; contest or conflict

Origin of encounter

C13: from Old French encontrer, from Vulgar Latin incontrāre (unattested), from Latin in- ² + contrā against, opposite

Derived forms of encounter

  • encounterer, noun

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