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 Walking outdoors, changing one’s routine, encountering art—doing almost anything outside of your routine can help kickstart the creative process. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "Smart gift ideas for busy professionals," 29 Nov. 2019 Instagram wrote on Twitter at 10:41 a.m. As more people encountered technical difficulties refreshing their feeds, the hashtag #InstagramDown began trending on Twitter, where clever tweets poured in as folks made light of the service outages. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, "Instagram & Facebook Outages Prompt Social Media Users to Hilariously Freak Out on Thanksgiving," 28 Nov. 2019 Horrendous situation led to founding Angels on Patrol was inspired by a grisly scene Jacqui MacConnell encountered 16 years ago as a Phoenix police sergeant. Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, "When police officers need quick help for people in distress, this Phoenix charity answers the call," 24 Nov. 2019 In the story that many generations of Americans grew up hearing, there were no Wampanoags until the Pilgrims encountered them. Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, "The Invention of Thanksgiving," 18 Nov. 2019 Police frequently encounter people with psychiatric disabilities when someone calls 911 about a person acting unusually in public. Jennifer Sarrett, The Conversation, "To stop police shootings of people with mental health disabilities, I asked them what cops – and everyone – could do to help," 12 Nov. 2019 The challenges and opportunities these leaders will encounter in 10 to 20 years are impossible to anticipate. Robert Lechler, STAT, "New leaders needed to translate discoveries into patient care," 18 Oct. 2019 As melting ice drives rising seas, coastal communities including San Diego will encounter more frequent and severe flooding, scientists said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Report: San Diego has unique edge to tackle climate change," 7 Oct. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Dress in your best wizard attire and enjoy themed snacks, butterbeer, ceramics and a special owl encounter. Jennifer Boehm, sun-sentinel.com, "Best bets for families: Brunch with Santa, kid’s beach night, Harry Potter(y) and more," 19 Nov. 2019 Luckily Livingstone knew Michael through a chance encounter with the musician. Hilary Lewis, Billboard, "How 'Last Christmas' Turned George Michael's Music Into a Movie," 14 Nov. 2019 The film imagines a prolonged encounter in Rome between the conservative Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio (the future Pope Francis). B.c., The Economist, "Two new films explore the limits of Christian forgiveness," 13 Nov. 2019 Inside the Princeton, Voorhis had a similar encounter. Tim Mcmillan, Popular Mechanics, "The Witnesses," 12 Nov. 2019 Whatever the result, this final has the ingredients for a blazing encounter. George Ramsay, CNN, "80 minutes from glory: Can South Africa upset favorites England?," 31 Oct. 2019 Here are five scientific explanations for encounters with the supernatural. Andrea Michelson, Smithsonian, "Five Scientific Explanations for Spooky Sensations," 30 Oct. 2019 Then Corso’s team returned home to shut out Northwestern, 30-0, before a fascinating encounter at Michigan. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "1979 Holiday Bowl oral history: Bolstered by trip to Tijuana and timely prayer, IU stunned BYU," 23 Oct. 2019 People with untreated mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter as other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement, according to a 2015 study from the national Treatment Advocacy Center. AZCentral.com, "Police shootings in Arizona," 22 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

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encountering?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=e&file=encoun02. Accessed 6 December 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).


very cautious or careful

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