[hwelm, welm]

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.

Nearby words

  1. wheesh,
  2. wheeze,
  3. wheezy,
  4. whelk,
  5. whelked,
  6. whelp,
  7. whelping ice,
  8. when,
  9. when all's said and done,
  10. when in rome do as the romans do

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)

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

Examples from the Web for whelm

British Dictionary definitions for whelm


verb (tr) archaic

to engulf entirely with or as if with water
another word for overwhelm

Word Origin for whelm

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

Word Origin and History for whelm



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