Definition of overwhelm in US English:

overwhelm

verb

[with object]
  • 1Bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

    ‘the water flowed through to overwhelm the whole dam and the village beneath’
    • ‘Peter is surely talking of the total world system in each case: the water overwhelmed it last time, the fire will consume it next time.’
    • ‘Huge waves overwhelmed the levees and 80% of New Orleans was flooded.’
    • ‘They woke up with water in their homes and their cars overwhelmed with water.’
    • ‘Not a technically challenging paddle, but the sheer volume of water is enough to overwhelm inexperienced boaters.’
    • ‘Hours before the worst of Hurricane Rita ravages the Texas and Louisiana coasts, water overwhelms or overtops a newly patched levee.’
    • ‘An earthquake in ad 62 caused serious damage, while the eruption of Vesuvius on 24 August ad 79 overwhelmed the whole town.’
    • ‘One sure sign of how these systems are overwhelmed with water is when the trees quickly die.’
    • ‘Plants in Taiwan, for example, may overwhelm the whole building into which they are integrated because they are ‘extremely strong’.’
    • ‘I would later dream of this same thing: walls closing in on me, drowning and overwhelming me.’
    • ‘The cool water overwhelmed me as much as it did him.’
    • ‘Ms Liberty is almost drowned and the city overwhelmed by a colossal tsunami.’
    • ‘They prefer clear water in small lakes and ponds that are not overwhelmed with submergent and emergent vegetation and which do not support populations of fish.’
    • ‘There are fears Hurricane Katrina could be just as deadly if it breaks New Orleans' levees and overwhelms the city's water and sewage systems.’
    • ‘The Okayama prefectural police believe the woman drowned after high tides overwhelmed her home in the coastal town Kurashiki.’
    • ‘He reminds us that He will be with us and that the water will not overwhelm us, He will intervene and deliver us.’
    • ‘Sure enough, the ship is suddenly pulled down under the water and overwhelmed without explanation or warning by a massive explosion of waves.’
    swamp, submerge, engulf, bury, deluge, flood, inundate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Defeat completely.
      ‘his teams overwhelmed their opponents’
      • ‘At Claremorris on Sunday afternoon, the visitors overwhelmed the home side with an emphatic victory.’
      • ‘Played in Direen, the Spa novice team was overwhelmed by a much better Rathmore side in the East Kerry Novice Championship Final.’
      • ‘The Wehrmacht, not anticipating a winter campaign, then ran out of steam and was overwhelmed by Soviet armies newly raised, unbeknown to the Germans.’
      • ‘The Army team was up to the challenge and put every effort into overwhelming the Navy side, earning a 46-8 victory for Army.’
      • ‘Those who had stayed away from the match in Tuam, where Roscommon's support was overwhelmed by the home side, were intent on making good on this occasion.’
      • ‘Last year's conquering village were overwhelmed by a team with the kind of attitude a county manager would kill for.’
      • ‘They overwhelmed their opponents up front with a powerful forward display that left Newcastle struggling to make any sort of impact.’
      • ‘That team speed will overwhelm the Bucs' offense, which has been clicking of late.’
      • ‘Abruptly, a whole pack of Minotaurs erupted from the underbrush, and easily overwhelmed Jessant's team.’
      • ‘Morton contributed, but were finally overwhelmed by a superior side.’
      • ‘This also needs to work because the Falcons' defense, though improved from last year, still isn't good enough to overwhelm opponents.’
      • ‘In seven minutes of the second half, it began to look as if the home team, the Premiership team, would overwhelm their visitors.’
      • ‘Londesbrough Park strengthened their promotion bid when they completely overwhelmed a hapless Selby side who were shot out for only 71.’
      • ‘That alone was easily enough to overwhelm their depleted and dispirited numbers, but the army outside also numbered several battalions of foot soldiers.’
      • ‘From the kick-off the spectators roared on the Catalans who overwhelmed their opponents, creating at least a dozen chances in the first half alone.’
      • ‘He is not a busy fighter who overwhelms his opponents with non-stop punching.’
      • ‘Unlike at Fulham, they were not overwhelmed by a superior side but, by their own failings, they offered their opponents all the encouragement they needed.’
      • ‘Tadcaster Magnet have gone into pole position in division five after overwhelming a Dringhouses side who were whipped out for only 74 after choosing to bat first.’
      • ‘The home side's winning margin was flattering, however, as they added 1-4 in the final stages to overwhelm a gusty Sligo side.’
      • ‘Glencastle overwhelmed their opponents in both semi-final and final appearances in the large School girls competition.’
      defeat, defeat easily, defeat heavily, defeat utterly, trounce, rout, beat, beat hollow, conquer, vanquish, be victorious over, gain a victory over, prevail over, get the better of, triumph over
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.
      ‘they were overwhelmed by farewell messages’
      • ‘The target's internet servers are overwhelmed by junk messages’
      • ‘Since her mother became ill, earlier this year, Lillian said she had been overwhelmed by the messages of support from friends and neighbours.’
      • ‘My mum, Emily, and I were overwhelmed by the volume of messages of condolence we received, and by the number of people who turned up to his funeral last Tuesday.’
      • ‘At Holy Cross High, the school was overwhelmed by a large number of parents standing in a long queue with their children waiting to be admitted.’
      • ‘He has been overwhelmed by messages of congratulations from all over South Africa at his appointment.’
      • ‘Sure, Stephanie's parents get overwhelmed by all the pets in the house, but they're animal lovers too.’
      • ‘She is overwhelmed by the parental duties she now bears.’
      • ‘The script sends only one message, so we don't overwhelm the recipient.’
      • ‘Grayston school was not immediately available for comment, as its telephones were being overwhelmed by calls from concerned parents, a secretary said.’
      • ‘Government rules, plans, and preparations were soon rapidly overwhelmed by a mass unplanned exodus to the safety of provincial villages.’
      • ‘But once the messages descend I remain overwhelmed by the avalanche of letters, information, bulletins and, of course, junk email.’
      • ‘Lisa, on the other hand, will be overwhelmed by sources, inundated by a fairly noisy background.’
      • ‘Parents are often overwhelmed with grief, and the family physician's support and recommendations for counseling are important.’
      • ‘We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support for Asa, and the genuine concern from people about his condition.’
      • ‘It died when Dean allowed the ‘movement’ to become the message, and overwhelm Iowa with orange-capped kids from elsewhere.’
      • ‘But that doesn't mean I have to let them do it here, especially when someone is dropping dozens of messages in short periods of time to overwhelm the conversation.’
      • ‘This would seem to be from someone in an interesting state of mind, or perhaps someone who wants the e-mail address given in the message to be overwhelmed with traffic.’
      • ‘We are overwhelmed by information, so conveying a message that sticks is tougher than ever.’
      • ‘The mother realises she is not alone when she asks if others also feel overwhelmed by parenthood.’
      • ‘The shop has become a Scottish literary institution for many and staff have been overwhelmed with messages of support.’
      inundate, overload, overrun, flood, swamp, snow under, engulf
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3usually be overwhelmed Have a strong emotional effect on.
      ‘I was overwhelmed with guilt’
      • ‘Gideon began to shake in front of her as emotion overwhelmed him.’
      • ‘Now her whole body was overwhelmed with rage and anger and hurt and pain.’
      • ‘The danger of feminine emotion was its tendency to overwhelm women, to drown them in a flood of their own sympathy and sentiment.’
      • ‘When I hear them, I'm overwhelmed with emotion, because I can remember what it was like then, or what I was doing then.’
      • ‘She was overwhelmed by the huge number of people that had attended the service.’
      • ‘I felt so overwhelmed by this feeling that I began to cry.’
      • ‘The survivor may be overwhelmed by confusing emotions - fear, grief, guilt, shame, rage.’
      • ‘Her emotions and worries were overwhelming her and Cameron would provide an outlet.’
      • ‘The people are overwhelmed with excitement and emotion.’
      • ‘On her way, Mark came rushing into the office and wrapping his arms around Angela, who, suddenly overwhelmed with emotion broke down.’
      • ‘Both the mothers flinched at the coldness in his voice, and Mrs. Trousdale was suddenly overwhelmed with guilt.’
      • ‘Up until that moment, Ian had blocked out the sheer size of the catastrophe, and his senses were suddenly overwhelmed by scene of suffering surrounding him.’
      • ‘I suddenly felt panic overwhelming me, shoving its way through my lack of emotion.’
      • ‘She increasingly saw suicide as the only way of coping with overwhelming emotions and freeing herself of her increasing sense of despair.’
      • ‘We were absolutely overwhelmed by the huge welcome we received at the airport.’
      • ‘I am completely overwhelmed by the response to the awards so far.’
      • ‘And that's why the feeling of missing her, the feeling of sadness, was so overwhelming at those times.’
      • ‘The organizers were totally overwhelmed by the response.’
      • ‘Everything was coming back, and already, Tanya felt a myriad of conflicting emotions overwhelming her.’
      • ‘And men won't be insulted, they will be overwhelmed with gratitude.’
      overcome, move, stir, affect, touch, impress, sweep someone off their feet, strike, stun, make emotional, dumbfound, shake, disturb, devastate, take aback, daze, spellbind, dazzle, floor, leave speechless, take someone's breath away, stagger
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 Be too strong for; overpower.
      ‘the wine doesn't overwhelm the flavor of the trout’
      • ‘Vintage Shiraz fruit flavours overwhelm the palate with layers of plum and bitter dark chocolate giving the wine a savoury richness.’
      • ‘The soup was pleasantly light, although I found that the store-bought vegetable stock somewhat overwhelmed the soup's mushroom flavour.’
      • ‘Here the sumptuous richness of digital video is brought to an extreme, an impressionistic dazzle which almost overwhelms, the play of light and color as vivid and subtle as Monet, but moving, and richly attended with sounds.’
      • ‘But the message never overwhelms the music; it's come out at the ideal time as the easy pace of this album makes it ideal for lying in sun-drenched fields to.’
      • ‘That's good news for those who enjoy a glass of wine that doesn't overwhelm the food.’
      • ‘The abundance of rich, hot flavours can overwhelm the wine.’
      • ‘The super-ripe flavors of the Barbaresco seemed more one-dimensional and to overwhelm the myriad of nuances that the other two wines promised to deliver in the future.’
      • ‘This was a bit of a weird one, with the birds really drenched in the sauce - maybe they overdid it a little bit, as the dressing overwhelmed the quails' natural flavour somewhat.’
      • ‘They were also very liberal with the basil, which might appeal to you if you're a huge fan of the stuff, though I myself found the strong taste overwhelmed the other flavours.’
      • ‘The fine grain and compact texture of these barrels endow the wine with delicate tannins that manifest themselves slowly, in small amounts, without overwhelming the wine.’
      • ‘Peppermint can overwhelm more subtle flavors, but the leaves make a tasty garnish for desserts like chocolate mousse.’
      • ‘If you've got liverwurst and onions rolling around down there, the delicate flavors of chocolate get overwhelmed.’
      • ‘Her curiosity overwhelmed her common sense, and she took a cautious step towards the site.’
      • ‘The tuna was somewhat overwhelmed by the other flavours.’
      • ‘Tara thought that, when eaten with a spoon, the wine overwhelms the peaches.’
      • ‘Always add smaller amounts of stronger components to avoid overwhelming the other flavors.’
      • ‘At every sacrifice, this immense wave of emotion overwhelmed his sense of empathy.’
      • ‘This wasn't bad, but the Gorgonzola overwhelmed all the other flavors.’
      • ‘The Japanese style overwhelms the setting and flavour of the Romans.’
      • ‘Big flavors require bitterness to cut through the flavors without overwhelming the dish.’

Pronunciation

overwhelm

/ˌōvərˈ(h)welm//ˌoʊvərˈ(h)wɛlm/