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 delays stem from the difficulty the World Health Organization encountered this year in identifying the changing strains in the 2019-2020 influenza virus. Robert Weisman — Boston Globe, STAT, "Seniors clamor for high-dose flu shot, but it’s not always easy to find," 28 Oct. 2019 But the project has encountered skepticism in the business, technology and regulatory communities, and has lost some of its biggest partners, including eBay, MasterCard, Visa and PayPal. Jason Abbruzzese, NBC News, "Facebook's Zuckerberg says Libra won't launch without U.S. approval," 23 Oct. 2019 The bullet train project has encountered its stiffest opposition in the Central Valley, where hundreds of land acquisitions have angered farmers owning highly productive farm fields. Burbank Leader, "Metrolink proposes new trains from Burbank to Anaheim, using billions from bullet train," 9 Oct. 2019 His transformation into a truly high-end perimeter scorer spearheaded an unlikely Final Four run (before Oklahoma encountered the Villanova buzzsaw) and also gifted viewers with a 46-point performance in a memorable triple-overtime loss to Kansas. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "The 10 Best Individual College Basketball Seasons of the Decade," 4 Oct. 2019 Investigators determined people in another vehicle encountered them and began firing. Mara H. Gottfried, Twin Cities, "After weeks of deadly gun violence in St. Paul, people ask, ‘Why?’," 28 Sep. 2019 The one-dimensional figures often encountered in living history programs are not present at Hinckley Lake. cleveland.com, "Voyageur canoe expedition transports park visitors back to historic fur trade," 15 Sep. 2019 Though most of the Laurarati first encountered Wilder’s books as children, they were hooked for life for different reasons. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Little House, Big Fans: These People Really, Really Love Laura Ingalls Wilder," 24 Aug. 2019 But Laster had never encountered tech billionaires before, much less ones empowered by the head of her agency. James Bandler, ProPublica, "How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon," 22 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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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

22 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encountering. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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).


not agreeing with established beliefs

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