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From over- +‎ whelm, or rather Middle English whelmen.



overwhelm (third-person singular simple present overwhelms, present participle overwhelming, simple past and past participle overwhelmed)

  1. To engulf, surge over and submerge.
    The dinghy was overwhelmed by the great wave.
  2. To overpower, crush.
    In December 1939 the Soviet Union attacked Finland with overwhelming force.
    • Bible, Psalms lxxviii. 53
      The sea overwhelmed their enemies.
  3. To overpower emotionally.
    He was overwhelmed with guilt.
    Joy overwhelmed her when she realized that she had won a million dollars.
  4. To cause to surround, to cover.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Papin to this entry?)

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overwhelm (plural overwhelms)

  1. The state or condition of being overwhelmed.
    • 1999, Jason Holmgren, Ironclaw
      If you beat your opponent by a margin of 5 or more, you have Overwhelmingly Succeeded. This type of success is often simply called an Overwhelm. [] An overwhelm means you've not only succeeded, but you've done something better than the average success would be.
    • 2015, Rolf Dane, Deep Clearing, Releasing the Power of Your Mind
      The fact is, that full permeation and understanding of an overwhelm or trauma makes it cease as an overwhelm or trauma.

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