en·​coun·​ter | \ in-ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce encounter (audio) , en- \
encountered; encountering\ in-​ˈkau̇n-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce encounter (audio) , en-​ \

Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to meet as an adversary or enemy
b : to engage in conflict with
2 : to come upon face-to-face
3 : to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly encounter difficulties

intransitive verb

: to meet especially by chance



Definition of encounter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a meeting between hostile factions or persons : a sudden often violent clash an encounter between the police and demonstrators
2a : a chance meeting an accidental encounter
b : a particular kind of meeting or experience with another person a romantic encounter
3 : a coming into the vicinity of a celestial body the Martian encounter of a spacecraft

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Examples of encounter in a Sentence

Verb We encountered problems early in the project. The pilot told us that we might encounter turbulence during the flight. Her suggestion has encountered a lot of opposition. Noun a chance encounter with a famous writer The tour boat had a close encounter with a breeching humpback whale. There was a violent encounter between fans of the opposing teams. It was her first encounter with cigarettes.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The local artist’s pictures are highly realistic, if not always literal, and showcase a remarkable ability to replicate a famous painting as the visitor might encounter it, whether from a distance or at an extreme angle. Washington Post, "In the galleries: A satire on images of women and the objects they advertise," 25 Dec. 2020 So far authorities have offered few details of what happened during police officers encounter with Hill. Laurie Ure And Jennifer Henderson, CNN, "Ohio mayor calls for 'immediate termination' of officer who shot and killed a Black man 'who had committed no crime'," 23 Dec. 2020 Although some Native artists encounter shortages of the materials needed to create their art, the clay used in traditional Mojave pottery making is still plentiful. AZCentral.com, "Native plants become Native art. What happens when they're gone?," 17 Dec. 2020 Despite Hackett's denials, Ray believes the doctor did encounter Shannan early that morning and gave her improper medical treatment. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "Inside the mind of a murderer: New clues in the hunt for the Long Island serial killer," 12 Dec. 2020 Francisco Córdova, director of the Arecibo Observatory, says that the dish’s destruction shines a light on potential problems newer telescopes may encounter. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, "Arecibo’s Collapse Sends Dire Warning to Other Aging Observatories," 11 Dec. 2020 Key Senate Republicans are expressing reservations about the Democrat’s nomination as health and human service secretary, indicating that President-elect Joe Biden’s pick may encounter resistance during his confirmation process. Tal Kopan, SFChronicle.com, "California’s Xavier Becerra faces skepticism from Senate Republicans for Cabinet job," 8 Dec. 2020 Other efforts in recent weeks have shown the hurdles and resistance such efforts may encounter. William Wan, Anchorage Daily News, "Coronavirus vaccines face trust gap in Black and Latino communities, study finds," 24 Nov. 2020 Mortgage pools containing a mix of properties in various categories scattered around the country are less likely to encounter circumstances in which cash flows shrink catastrophically. Marc Joffe, National Review, "Echoes of the Great Recession in Commercial Real Estate," 22 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bodycam footage of the encounter will be released today, the chief said. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Police in Minneapolis shoot, kill man in gunfight during traffic stop, reports say," 31 Dec. 2020 As a result of the encounter, lifeguards have closed the city’s beach for two days and reported the incident to the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab, which studies shark behavior up and down the California coast and beyond. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Shark bites swimmer’s fin off Coronado; city closes beach for 2 days," 30 Dec. 2020 The memo noted there wasn't audio evidence of the encounter because Coy didn't activate his camera. Peter Nickeas, CNN, "The Columbus, Ohio, officer who shot Andre Hill shouted 'gun' before opening fire, report says," 29 Dec. 2020 Harrold shared a minute-long video of the encounter on social media on Sunday. NBC News, "Video shows woman falsely accusing Black teen of stealing phone she left in Uber," 28 Dec. 2020 The suspect was arrested nearby within 30 minutes of the encounter, according to scanner audio. Katy Read, Star Tribune, "Investigation continues into shooting, wounding of Brooklyn Park police officer," 12 Dec. 2020 Haller, 30, who took notes of the encounter and later testified about it under oath, said Detective Michael Hess arrived already convinced that Overton had poisoned her foster son Andrew Burd with salt. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Murder by omission or conviction by design?," 9 Dec. 2020 Haller, 30, who took notes of the encounter and later testified about it under oath, said Detective Michael Hess arrived already convinced that Overton had poisoned her foster son Andrew Burd with salt. John Maccormack, San Antonio Express-News, "Captivating tales from South Texas and Mexico," 8 Dec. 2020 The resolution of that situation, which depends entirely on Jean’s disproportionate privilege, is effective enough in pure movie-movie terms, but the deeper, uglier sting of the encounter lingers. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘I’m Your Woman,’ with Rachel Brosnahan, puts a vivid new spin on the ’70s crime thriller," 4 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'encounter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of encounter


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for encounter


Middle English encountren, from Anglo-French encuntrer, from Medieval Latin incontrare, from Late Latin incontra toward, from Latin in- + contra against — more at counter

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Time Traveler for encounter

Time Traveler

The first known use of encounter was in the 14th century

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Statistics for encounter

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encounter. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for encounter


How to pronounce encounter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to have or experience (problems, difficulties, etc.)
formal : to meet (someone) without expecting or intending to



English Language Learners Definition of encounter (Entry 2 of 2)

: a meeting that is not planned or expected
: a usually brief experience with another person
: a violent or very unfriendly meeting


en·​coun·​ter | \ in-ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce encounter (audio) \
encountered; encountering

Kids Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to meet face-to-face or by chance I encountered an old friend.
2 : to experience or face often unexpectedly Have you encountered any difficulty?



Kids Definition of encounter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a meeting face-to-face and often by chance
2 : an often unexpected experience It was his first encounter with fame.

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