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 The Trump administration has said the wall is needed because the number of people on terror watch lists encountered at the southern border has increased during the past two years. Washington Post, "Trump Said Mexico Would Pay for the Border Wall. Now What?," 18 Sep. 2019 The situation was one that people sometimes encounter when vying for tickets to such a high-demand event. BostonGlobe.com, "Stephen King-related," 17 Sep. 2019 WeWork is pushing back its initial public offering after encountering a frosty reception from investors with concerns with its money-losing business model and corporate governance. CBS News, "Despite a hot year for IPOs, WeWork's stock sale is delayed," 17 Sep. 2019 The team that encountered the least resistance on the ground vs. UW? Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW's defense, which wilted last season at Michigan, could flourish in the rematch Saturday," 15 Sep. 2019 Police searched the area, but did not encounter anything suspicious. Joseph Clark, cleveland.com, "Naked man commits sexual act near Main Street: Olmsted Falls Police Blotter," 15 Sep. 2019 The details of the investigation track closely with the ProPublica/Marshall Project piece, in which the detectives encounter pretty much the exact same setbacks. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "The True Story Behind the Netflix Series Unbelievable," 12 Sep. 2019 This is easily one of the most high-concept episodes, as the Tick and his mind encounter the vast, featureless, desolate expanse that is his consciousness. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Ars celebrates 25 years of The Tick by picking our top ten favorite episodes," 10 Sep. 2019 Well, here’s a story in which Thor dies, ends up in Hell and has to fight his way back, in the process encountering characters who’d later show up in the Marvel Studios movies, like Hela and the Destroyer. Graeme Mcmillan, The Hollywood Reporter, "80 Comics to Read For Marvel's 80th Anniversary," 31 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And forgiveness, more often than not, did take place, for there was constant personal encounter between the victim and the perpetrator who had to demonstrate his remorse every day in his service and in his demeanor and words. Zainab Salbi, Fortune, "Punishing Sexual Predators Isn’t Enough. We Need to Give Them a Path to Make Things Right," 17 Sep. 2019 The two sides, who shared two entertaining encounters in the competition last season, both had chances as Alex Meret and Adrian made important stops, with the game goalless until Andy Robertson felled Jose Callejon. SI.com, "Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Reds Start Champions League Defence With Defeat," 17 Sep. 2019 Delayed only briefly by that encounter, Harris quickly returns to speed as R.J. Roderick comes into frame to attempt some sort of barrel roll into Harris’ legs. Nathan Baird, cleveland.com, "Is Ohio State football’s defense ready for Clemson and Alabama? Buckeye Rewatch," 16 Sep. 2019 Without this chance encounter, the radical and courageous secret of Casa Susanna might have been lost to history. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "See RuPaul, Bianca Del Rio, more in exclusive excerpts from Drag: The Complete Story book," 16 Sep. 2019 Friday Twilight & Lore Tour Combo The Fort Bend Museum will host a twilight tour of museum grounds as staff tell true stories of ghostly encounters through the years. Houston Chronicle, "SL Fort Bend Calendar 091819," 16 Sep. 2019 Along your journey, encounter elephants, hyenas, giraffes, and oryx on safari; go sea kayaking in Walvis Bay; and climb the dunes of the Namib Desert. National Geographic, "Namibia Expedition: Desert Safari and Big Cat Conservation," 15 Sep. 2019 His death ended what police have described as a series of dangerous encounters. Talia Richman, baltimoresun.com, "Body camera video shows hail of gunfire from Baltimore police in fatal shooting; 154 shell casings recovered," 13 Sep. 2019 Based on the scientists’ assessment, Newsweek’s Osborne adds, male and female crabs are equally likely to adopt the communication method during aggressive encounters. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Ghost Crabs Use Teeth in Their Stomachs to Ward Off Predators," 12 Sep. 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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Statistics for encounter

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for encounter

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

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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

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


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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