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


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

Interim Police Chief Gary Tuggle said Sassafras was shot Sunday evening when a crime suppression unit encountered the man in an alleyway of a troubled west Baltimore neighborhood. Fox News, "Man slain in Baltimore police shootout was paroled this year," 25 Sep. 2018 The course wouldn’t use any real firearms or live ammunition but would instead teach children what to do when encountering an unsecured firearm, among other things. Sarah Zimmerman, The Seattle Times, "Key deadline means end of the road for hundreds of bills," 11 Apr. 2019 The airliner is one of Boeing's most popular planes, and the same model involved in the Lion Air crash that killed 189 passengers last November when the plane encountered a technical glitch and plummeted into the Java Sea. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Now Britain Is Grounding All Boeing 737 Max 8 Jets Following Catastrophic Ethiopia Crash," 11 Mar. 2019 Alligators live in all 67 of Florida’s counties, and as development happens near wetlands and waterfronts, people can expect to encounter the reptiles, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission says on its website. Linda Trischitta, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Alligator suspected of dragging woman into pond; investigation underway," 8 June 2018 Goff wasn't the only one in the region to encounter a snake. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "Snake slithers out of car's air vent as Virginia woman is driving," 6 June 2018 To encounter a justice so staunchly committed to jewelry and accessories despite the masculine tradition of the bench is, well, kind of iconic. Marley Marius, Vogue, "Happy Birthday, Ruth Bader Ginsberg! An Ode to the Supreme Court Justice and Her Iconic Accessorizing," 15 Mar. 2019 The rescue service said a crew encountered one vessel in the western part of the Strait of Gibraltar with 52 migrants on board, while a second one carried 49. Stephen Calleja, BostonGlobe.com, "Malta charges German captain of rescue boat," 2 July 2018 In the second act of Paper Giants, the characters begin to regularly encounter the giant community. Danny Atkinson, Courant Community, "Epoch Arts Opens Summer Season," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Chrissy has a slightly different description of the encounter, admitting to Cosmo that the pair shared In-N-Out burgers after the 14-hour shoot and stayed together after, parting ways the next day. Megan Stein, Country Living, "John Legend and Chrissy Teigen's Love Story Will Make You Ugly Cry," 6 Mar. 2019 No officers were injured during the incident, and video surveillance of the encounter has also been preserved as evidence, police said. Jack Dolan, latimes.com, "Man who pointed BB gun at Inglewood police officers and was fatally shot suffered from mental illness, authorities say," 23 June 2018 Part of the encounter was captured on video and posted to Facebook by a bystander. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Lawyer: No threat from unarmed teen shot dead by officer while fleeing traffic stop," 21 June 2018 Mesa police last week released video and audio of the encounter. Uriel J. Garcia, azcentral, "Charges dropped against Robert Johnson, man brutally beaten by Mesa police," 14 June 2018 And because a toxicology report showed Hill was drunk at the time of the encounter, the Times reported the award would be reduced to nothing. Abigail Abrams, Time, "Jury Awards $4 to Family of Man Killed by Florida Sheriff's Deputy," 31 May 2018 Several sources who have watched the body camera footage have told the Journal Sentinel that Brown does not appear to do anything to provoke police during the encounter, which began as a parking violation. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee police to release body camera video of Bucks rookie Sterling Brown's arrest, tasing," 23 May 2018 But for Bran Stark, now also known as the Three-Eyed Raven, most of the episode involved eerie encounters and empty stares. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bran Stark Was So Creepy in the Game of Thrones Premiere and Now He's a Meme," 15 Apr. 2019 He was followed by a crowd of mostly young Saudi men documenting the encounter with their cellphones, and the prince could be seen posing for selfies. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "Saudi forum highlights crown prince’s shifting fortunes," 23 Oct. 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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Statistics for encounter

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

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.)
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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Comments on encounter

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