verb (used with object)

to swallow up in or as in a gulf; submerge: The overflowing river has engulfed many small towns along its banks.
to plunge or immerse, as into a gulf: He engulfed himself in his studies.

Also ingulf.

Origin of engulf

First recorded in 1545–55; en-1 + gulf
Related formsen·gulf·ment, noun

Synonyms for engulf

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for engulfment

Historical Examples of engulfment

  • This cess-pool offered its engulfment to the city and the universe.

    Les Misrables

    Victor Hugo

  • The central portions of the dome have since been removed by engulfment, or denudation, or by both these causes.

  • The first effect is instantaneous, then the engulfment becomes more gradual.

    A Tenderfoot Bride

    Clarice E. Richards

  • Beyond, the opaqueness was massive; to penetrate thither seemed horrible, an entrance into it appeared like an engulfment.

    Les Misrables

    Victor Hugo

  • This engulfment is the sepulchre which assumes a tide, and which mounts from the depths of the earth towards a living man.

    Les Misrables

    Victor Hugo

British Dictionary definitions for engulfment



verb (tr)

to immerse, plunge, bury, or swallow up
(often passive) to overwhelmengulfed by debts
Derived Formsengulfment, 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

Word Origin and History for engulfment



1550s, from en- (1) "make, put in" + gulf. Related: Engulfed; engulfing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper