en·coun·ter | \in-ˈkau̇n-tər, en-\
encountered; encountering\in-ˈkau̇n-t(ə-)riŋ, 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


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.


a chance encounter with a famous writer He's accused of having had sexual encounters with several young women. 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

These waters did not disappoint, especially the two final dives off the coast of the Carolinas, where ROV encountered several unidentifiable creatures. Kelli Bender, ajc, "'Horror' lizardfish and weird unidentifiable creatures found chilling off Carolina coast," 13 July 2018 Reyna says officers sweeping the buildings found a bullet fragment in one building, though officers haven't encountered an active shooter. Fox News, "Army Reserve base evacuated after possible gunfire reported," 10 July 2018 Prosecutors say Nebergall, an 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, encountered the woman while investigating her apparent dispute with a landlord early on the morning of July 21, 2016. Marc Freeman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Trial to open for deputy accused of sexual battery attempt," 10 July 2018 Officials have also insisted that Liu Xia was free to move around — a clear contradiction of the reality on the ground, according to her friends and people who encountered guards blocking their attempts to visit her at her home in Beijing. Fox News, "The Latest: Rights groups cautiously hail Liu Xia departure," 10 July 2018 Drivers who encounter high water on roads should not attempt to pass through it, officials urge. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Flash flood warning issued for southeast Harris County," 3 July 2018 Anyone who encounters Bland is encouraged to call 911 or 404-577-8477. Zachary Hansen, ajc, "Police: Armed robber on the run after removing ankle monitor in Gwinnett," 3 July 2018 Normally, cougars are secretive and aloof, said Myers, who has encountered many of them and has not felt threatened. Christine Willmsen, The Seattle Times, "Two attacked by cougar identified; wildlife officials say predator was ‘emaciated’," 22 May 2018 Viewers first encountered Dracula’s complicated family in 2012's Hotel Transylvania, which creator Todd Durham has since transformed into a lucrative animated franchise starring Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez. Michael Waters, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hotel Transylvania 3': Meet the Voices Behind Each Animated Character," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His encounters with the locals are mostly hilarious and vividly observed, threaded with the types of details that foreigners see as bizarre and Russians tend to ignore as routine. Simon Shuster, Time, "To Understand Russia, Read A Terrible Country," 12 July 2018 The various models for neutrino emission from blazars, developed in blissful theoretical isolation, have now had their first encounter with real data, and none can explain the exact details seen. Mark Bowen, Scientific American, "Neutrinos on Ice: Astronomers' Long Hunt for Source of Extragalactic "Ghost Particles" Pays Off," 12 July 2018 In their quarter-final encounter against Brazil, Belgium were imperious. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: France vs Belgium - Recent Form, Classic Encounter, Predictions & More," 9 July 2018 The good news is that Nick is unharmed following his encounter with the two violent Guardians two episodes ago. Rena Gross, Billboard, "'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2, Episode 12 Recap: 15 Reactions to 'Postpartum'," 4 July 2018 Though their encounter does not appear in this episode, the Fab Five also met with Rowena Abbey, the mayor of Yass, during their visit. Yohana Desta, HWD, "Queer Eye Gifts Fans Bonus Mini-Episode in Yass, Australia," 22 June 2018 The encounter was recorded by a nearby resident’s security camera, WSVN reported. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "California dad recorded using child ‘like a baseball bat’ in confrontation with woman, police say," 13 July 2018 This is Antarctica calling Completed in 2010, the IceCube observatory at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica aims to capture these exceptional encounters between neutrinos from beyond our solar system and atomic nuclei. Eoin O'carroll, The Christian Science Monitor, "Neutrino demonstration heralds a new way of observing the cosmos," 12 July 2018 That 5-1 game nearly nine years ago remains the last encounter between these two countries. Jamie Spencer, Pro Soccer USA, "World Cup preview Croatia vs England: Head to Head, Team News, Prediction & More," 11 July 2018

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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Learn More about encounter

Phrases Related to encounter

romantic encounter

Statistics for encounter

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for encounter

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

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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 \
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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Comments on encounter

What made you want to look up encounter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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