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From Middle English overwhelmen, equivalent to over- +‎ whelm.



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.
    Synonym: swamp
  2. To overpower, crush.
    In December 1939 the Soviet Union attacked Finland with overwhelming force.
  3. To overpower emotionally.
    He was overwhelmed with guilt.
    Joy overwhelmed her when she realized that she had won a million dollars.
    • 2017 July 23, Brandon Nowalk, “The great game begins with a bang on Game Of Thrones (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      Theon Greyjoy is the most well developed character on that stage, and the action comes down to him. Euron, with Yara underneath his ax, goads Theon into attack. But Theon is overwhelmed by the violence all around him, and instead he jumps overboard.
  4. To cause to surround, to cover.
    • 1684, Denis Papin, Instrument to make turpentine penetrate plaster and wood using the airpump:
      I lay Turpentine all over the same: then I overwhelm a broader pipe about the first


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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


overwhelm (countable and uncountable, plural overwhelms)

  1. The state or condition of being overwhelmed.
    • 1999, Jason Holmgren, Ironclaw[2]:
      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[3]:
      The fact is, that full permeation and understanding of an overwhelm or trauma makes it cease as an overwhelm or trauma.
    • 2021, Star Trek: Discovery, “Stormy Weather”, season 4, episode 6, spoken by Michael Burnham:
      And what you’re feeling is normal in a dangerous situation — overwhelm and guilt when someone is harmed.

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