en·​coun·​ter | \ in-ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce encounter (audio) , en- \
encountered; encountering\ in-​ˈkau̇n-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce encounter (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 The tour boat had a close encounter with a breeching humpback whale. 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 genre is named after a time of day, yet thanks to YouTube, most people encounter its content completely divorced from linear time. Bethy Squires, Vulture, "The CBS Head of Late Night’s Really Tall Chair Won Late Night This Week," 7 May 2021 Unlike many of the other skin ailments featured in this piece, acne is something most people encounter (up to 85 percent of us, in fact). Amanda Mitchell, Allure, "7 Black Women With Skin Conditions Share Their Path to Diagnosis," 28 Apr. 2021 On the second floor, devoted to Northern European painting from Hans Memling to Vermeer, visitors first encounter the Angel, cast in 1475 by Jean Barbet, a Lyonnais cannon maker, and one of the very few surviving monumental bronzes from this period. Colin B. Bailey, The New York Review of Books, "Masterpieces Unmediated," 27 Apr. 2021 In the gallery, viewers encounter a defunct pay phone replicated from fragments of wood and a decorative metal curlicue. Danielle Avram, Dallas News, "Dallas artist Vince Jones breathes new life into found objects with creative mashups," 7 Apr. 2021 Rarely has an issue that so few people encounter — and one that public opinion analysts have only recently begun to study in depth — become a political and cultural flash point so quickly. New York Times, "Why Transgender Girls Are Suddenly the G.O.P.’s Culture-War Focus," 29 Mar. 2021 In trying to create a better algorithm to predict animals likely to host SARS-CoV-2, researchers often encounter challenges. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "The Search for Animals That Could Carry the Next Deadly Virus," 25 Mar. 2021 Scientists, soldiers and adventurers encounter the mighty Kong and other monstrous creatures after traveling to an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘My Fair Lady’; ‘Marry Poppins’," 19 Mar. 2021 Finally, and critically, deception and debunking usually occur in different venues: those who are exposed to misconceptions rarely encounter the fact-checks. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Scientific American, "How to Debunk Misinformation about COVID, Vaccines and Masks," 18 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster ruled against a petition filed by a coalition of media outlets, including The Washington Post, to release the footage of the fatal police encounter involving Brown, 42, on April 21. Washington Post, "Body-camera footage of N.C. deputies fatally shooting Black man will not be released to the public, judge rules," 28 Apr. 2021 Officers advised her to record the encounter the next time the neighbor exhibited such behavior. cleveland, "Bluetooth technology to blame for possible assault: South Euclid Police Blotter," 27 Apr. 2021 The last such encounter was in April 2020, officials said. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, "U.S. Warship Fires Warning Shots in Encounter With Iranian Vessels," 27 Apr. 2021 Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past. oregonlive, "Nomadland, Minari, other Oscars 2021 Best Picture movies: Where, how to watch each film nominated at home now," 26 Apr. 2021 The beauty influencer took to his Instagram Stories on Sunday to discuss the encounter from 2019. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Bretman Rock Recalls the First Time He Met David Dobrik: He “Sh*tted On Me and Made Me Feel So Irrelevant”," 26 Apr. 2021 Chauvin's trial came nearly a year after Floyd's death, the result of Chauvin kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes during an encounter sparked by an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Anonymous jury in Derek Chauvin trial part of a growing trend that has some legal experts worried," 25 Apr. 2021 That one encounter, of course, didn’t turn things around for Spencer, his dad said. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Robert Gehrke: Not all of quarterback Alex Smith’s heroics were on the field. This one left a profound impression on one 9-year-old boy," 25 Apr. 2021 The close encounter between the shark and the swimmer happened about 8:30 a.m. some 200 yards offshore in a spot north of the Hotel del Coronado, according to city lifeguards. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Warning signs posted after white shark circles swimmer in Coronado," 25 Apr. 2021

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

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encounter. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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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