overwhelming

[ oh-ver-hwel-ming, -wel- ]
/ ˌoʊ vərˈʰwɛl mɪŋ, -ˈwɛl- /

adjective

that overwhelms; overpowering: The temptation to despair may become overwhelming.
so great as to render resistance or opposition useless: an overwhelming majority.

Origin of overwhelming

First recorded in 1565–75; overwhelm + -ing2
Related formso·ver·whelm·ing·ly, adverbo·ver·whelm·ing·ness, noun

Definition for overwhelming (2 of 2)

overwhelm

[ oh-ver-hwelm, -welm ]
/ ˌoʊ vərˈʰwɛlm, -ˈwɛlm /

verb (used with object)

to overcome completely in mind or feeling: overwhelmed by remorse.
to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush: Roman troops were overwhelmed by barbarians.
to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge: Lava from erupting Vesuvius overwhelmed the city of Pompeii.
to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything: a child overwhelmed with presents; to overwhelm someone with questions.
to overthrow.

Origin of overwhelm

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at over-, whelm
Related formsun·o·ver·whelmed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for overwhelming

British Dictionary definitions for overwhelming (1 of 2)

overwhelming

/ (ˌəʊvəˈwɛlmɪŋ) /

adjective

overpowering in effect, number, or force
Derived Formsoverwhelmingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for overwhelming (2 of 2)

overwhelm

/ (ˌəʊvəˈwɛlm) /

verb (tr)

to overpower the thoughts, emotions, or senses of
to overcome with irresistible force
to overcome, as with a profusion or concentration of something
to cover over or bury completely
to weigh or rest upon overpoweringly
archaic to overturn
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 overwhelming

overwhelm


v.

early 14c., "to turn upside down, to overthrow," from over- + Middle English whelmen "to turn upside down" (see whelm). Meaning "to submerge completely" is mid-15c. Perhaps the connecting notion is a boat, etc., washed over, and overset, by a big wave. Figurative sense of "to bring to ruin" is attested from 1520s. Related: Overwhelmed; overwhelming; overwhelmingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper