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

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 And while poverty doesn’t always mean low achievement, poverty does present challenges that wealthier students don’t encounter. al, 20 Dec. 2021 Miriam, her husband Morris and their two children similarly sought refuge in a forest but did not encounter Lazowski again until after the war. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Nov. 2021 The Longhorns wouldn’t encounter No. 5 seed Baylor unless both reach the final four at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 30 Nov. 2021 Police chiefs want lawmakers to make clear that the law only applies to federal gun rules enacted recently and doesn’t apply if police encounter a suspect committing a crime. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 25 Nov. 2021 If people encounter a coyote near their home, they are not supposed to call 9-1-1, Wattles said. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Nov. 2021 So naturally any attempt is going to encounter challenges. Joshua Cohen, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 Men are going to encounter transgender issues also. Barbara Bry, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 July 2021 Instead, the price that consumers encounter at the pharmacy has a lot to do with a middleman called a pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM. Michael Schulson, Quartz, 14 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Funding is a challenge many leaders in this space encounter because these programs demand long-term investment. Vera Institute Of Justice, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2022 So far, no witnesses have come forward about the encounter, according to Endersby. Abigail Adams, PEOPLE.com, 30 Dec. 2021 In his comments delivering the ruling, Shirron returned to this encounter, arguing that Gregory was entitled to receive copies and the staff denied her the opportunity to make copies. Joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Online, 10 Dec. 2021 Word travels about this rare encounter and Mrs. Kehoe, the restaurant owner, gravely warns him against crossing the nuns. Valerie Miner, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Nov. 2021 In the first episode of the series, host Aminatou Sow goes behind the scenes with royal biographer Andrew Morton for an inside look at Princess Diana's first lunch with Camilla Parker Bowles -- and her secret recordings about the encounter. CNN, 23 Nov. 2021 Their fans were hoping the Mustangs would also be ranked at the time of this encounter, but SMU’s 8-2 mark coming in will at least give UC a boost in schedule strength. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, 21 Nov. 2021 By the time her character, Linda, walks into this encounter, after having arduously worked on herself, there isn’t a defensive bone in her body, Dowd believes. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2021 Presumably, these two will meet again, considering the time spent on this near-miss encounter. Richard Rys, Vulture, 3 Oct. 2021

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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Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encounter. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for encounter



English Language Learners Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to have or experience (problems, difficulties, etc.)
: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on encounter

Nglish: Translation of encounter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of encounter for Arabic Speakers


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