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

The data breach adds to problems Marriott has encountered in its integration of Starwood. Kimberly Chin, WSJ, "Marriott Says Starwood Data Breach Affects Up to 500 Million People," 30 Nov. 2018 Nebraska lawmakers said updating the equipment could help avoid the problems encountered in states like Florida, where tight races for governor and U.S. Senate forced a machine recount in this month’s election. Grant Schulte, The Seattle Times, "Outdated voting machines spark election worries in Nebraska," 21 Nov. 2018 In 2009, a U.S. Airways plane carrying 155 people encountered a flock of Canadian geese upon takeoff -- birds were sucked into both engines causing them to fail, leaving the jet without power while only a few thousand feet in the air. CBS News, "9 years after "Miracle on the Hudson," FAA proposes new test for engine bird strikes," 6 July 2018 Most of the people Briscoe encountered in Estonia spoke English. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando Magic, point guard Isaiah Briscoe reach deal," 5 July 2018 Global competition and offshoring enabled by containerized trade was responsible for some of the trouble American manufacturing encountered in the 1970s and 1980s. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Disposable America," 21 June 2018 Wildlife officials in Alaska are reminding people to stay away from animals that are encountered in the wild and to keep a safe distance, KTVA reported. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Bear visits human neighbors, plops down at their picnic table," 8 June 2018 The presence of the volunteers clearly moved Janet Parker, the Early Learning Center’s site director for the past three years, who said the visitors were the first she's encountered in her 30 years of working with children. Dennis Sullivan, Daily Southtown, "Volunteers plant seeds of community involvement at Ford Heights childhood center," 2 June 2018 The mission encountered plenty of bumps on the road, no surprise, but there was good reason to believe in the effort to go faster over land than anybody had ever gone before. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Could Someone Save the 1,000-MPH Bloodhound SSC Project?," 11 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While meeting a group of well-wishers at the site, one little boy appeared to get overwhelmed by the encounter and simply crawled away from the sovereign. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Boy Crawling Away from the Queen Is Me in All Social Situations," 6 Dec. 2018 Kate and Massy-Birch were reportedly friendly before the encounter, but didn't speak much after that. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Prince William Had an Awkward Dinner Party Moment with Kate Middleton and His Ex," 29 Nov. 2018 The panel – which included the newest cast member Ana Navarro — couldn't stop giggling when Joy started to recall her encounter. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Host Joy Behar Stops Show Over Hilarious Photo Dispute With Fans," 5 Nov. 2018 Alfredo Ramos, who posted the encounter on social media, can be heard telling the man that the sign was his property. Fox News, "Protester filmed screaming 'I hate Ted Cruz,' tearing up signs in Houston neighborhood," 18 Oct. 2018 Tekashi 6ix9ine, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, is seen in video from the January encounter rushing up to a 16-year-old fan inside the mall who had just recorded video of the rapper. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine arrested in New York for alleged assault inside Houston’s Galleria Mall," 12 July 2018 Everything else would result from that core encounter. Loren A. Yadon, idahostatesman, "In these trying times, return to Jesus and the simplicity of faith for renewal," 12 July 2018 At their best, one-person plays have the intimacy and urgency of an encounter with someone who needs to get something off his or her chest, ideally portrayed by an actor who compels us to listen. Adam Green, Vogue, "Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal Return to the New York Stage in Sea Wall/A Life," 10 Dec. 2018 Those seeking a closer encounter of the paranormal kind look to book room 3327 of the Hotel del Coronado, the most requested room at the hotel. Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Most Haunted Cities In America and Why You Should Visit," 18 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

4 Jan 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.)

: 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).


a person who helps groups work together

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