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

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 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 An old joke makes this point: Two hikers in the mountains encounter an obviously hungry grizzly bear. James Trefil And Michael Summers, Smithsonian Magazine, "If Aliens Exist Elsewhere in the Universe, How Would They Behave?," 31 Dec. 2019 This is because most non-Mexican migrants encountered by U.S. officials after July 16 are not eligible for asylum under a regulation allowed by the Supreme Court. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "Program to expedite deportations of asylum-seekers at border expands," 31 Dec. 2019 Any bacteria that encounters an antibiotic, whether in the human body, or in a stream or pond, will attempt to survive. Elijah Wolfson, Time, "Pharmacies Don’t Know How to Dispose of Leftover Opioids and Antibiotics," 30 Dec. 2019 Across the field, Ohio State encounters a team whose starts are trending in the other direction. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Why Ohio State football must interrupt Clemson’s first-quarter dominance in the Fiesta Bowl," 28 Dec. 2019 An unanticipated problem was encountered, check back soon and try again Take two! Actor Sean Hunter — a.k.a. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "'Peloton Husband' Gives Girlfriend Peloton for Christmas: ‘Here’s Hoping This Goes Over Better’," 27 Dec. 2019 This last model placed uranium at its base, under the assumption that chemistry would never encounter a bigger atom. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "The Histories Hidden in the Periodic Table," 27 Dec. 2019 Just nine of the more than 90 groundfish species were in trouble, but because of the way bottom trawlers fished — indiscriminately hauling up millions of pounds of whatever their nets encountered — regulators began to all bottom trawling. Gillian Flaccus, Anchorage Daily News, "West Coast fishery rebounds in rare conservation ‘home run’," 26 Dec. 2019 Just nine of the more than 90 groundfish species were in trouble, but because of the way bottom trawlers fished — indiscriminately hauling up millions of pounds of whatever their nets encountered — regulators began to all bottom trawling. Fortune, "West Coast Fishery Rebounds in Rare Conservation ‘Home Run’," 26 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If license plates and chance encounters were any measures, residents of Wisconsin were ready and willing to buy legal pot and gloss over the restriction on out-of-state transport. Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin residents travel to Illinois for first day of legalized marijuana," 1 Jan. 2020 Four years ago, a chance encounter allowed Vezzani to test the idea. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "As epilepsy drugs fail nearly one-third of patients, scientists seek root causes of seizures," 12 Dec. 2019 On April 18, Rolle was arrested outside a Tamarac McDonald’s, and cellphone video of the encounter was widely circulated, sparking community outrage. Eileen Kelley, sun-sentinel.com, "Family wants cops to face stiffer charges in head-slamming arrest of teen Delucca Rolle," 14 Nov. 2019 And then there were the passersby, everyday folks eager to seize on a chance encounter with a sports celebrity. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "Ray Lewis will bless your wedding anniversary. Or RG3 could smack talk your buddy - if the price is right.," 7 Nov. 2019 Readers learn far more about Ms Deneuve, her cunning and restraint, than other writers might relay, and all this happens while Mr Carrère is detailing his own nervousness and the supposed failure of the encounter. The Economist, "The slippery talent of Emmanuel Carrère," 7 Nov. 2019 Guests will have last-chance encounters with Rojo the Llama, who is returning from a recent retirement just for this event, Kidd said. oregonlive, "Celebrate the city’s oddities at the Weird Portland Gala," 5 Nov. 2019 And the question of which level of encounter is the best for the environment – or the human soul – has no easy answer. Jennifer M. Bernstein, The Conversation, "Why ‘acting locally’ is impossible in an interconnected world," 28 Oct. 2019 Then there was his year at San Diego State University, where a chance encounter with some fellow budding filmmakers sent him off in a life-changing direction. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: How a former San Diegan found success with a Hollywood horror show," 18 Oct. 2019

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

4 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encounter. Accessed 17 January 2020.

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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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Comments on encounter

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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