en·​gulf | \ in-ˈgəlf How to pronounce engulf (audio) , en-\
engulfed; engulfing; engulfs

Definition of engulf

transitive verb

1 : to flow over and enclose : overwhelm the mounting seas threatened to engulf the island
2 : to take in (food) by or as if by flowing over and enclosing

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from engulf

engulfment \ in-​ˈgəlf-​mənt How to pronounce engulfment (audio) , en-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for engulf


deluge, drown, flood, gulf, inundate, overflow, overwhelm, submerge, submerse, swamp



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of engulf in a Sentence

The valley was engulfed in a thick fog. high waves from the hurricane engulfed large areas of the coastal community

Recent Examples on the Web

The Senate’s investigation is one of several that come as the Nassar scandal has engulfed USA Gymnastics and Michigan State for nearly two years. Rachel Axon, USA TODAY, "Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny refuses to answer questions about sex abuse scandal," 5 June 2018 Will Flannigan, The Republic | azcentral.com A wildfire burning near Sedona has continued to spread, engulfing up to 230 acres of land as of Tuesday afternoon. Kimberly Rapanut, azcentral, "Wildfire in northwest Arizona grows to 230 acres, 25 percent containment," 29 May 2018 Facebook’s ongoing privacy scandal could engulf one unsuspecting sector of the economy — the mom-and-pop businesses that rely on it for their marketing outreach. NBC News, "Facebook's fall from grace could drag Main Street down with it," 29 Mar. 2018 An early season storm engulfed the Upper East Side in snow, sleet, and ice, but that didn’t stop fashionable New Yorkers from attending the 2018 Guggenheim International Gala, presented by Dior. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Karlie Kloss, Gwyneth Paltrow, and More Brave the Snow to Attend the 2018 Guggenheim International Gala," 16 Nov. 2018 Flame engulfed several residential buildings, leaving cars and storefronts burning, and miles of smoke. Nikki Battiste, CBS News, "Firefighter killed in Wisconsin explosion identified as father of twin daughters," 11 July 2018 Similar fires engulfed the same market in 2005 and 2006. Kate Linthicum, latimes.com, "At least 22 killed in fireworks explosions in a Mexican town with a history of deadly blasts," 5 July 2018 Firefighters arrived to find the front part of the two-story home fully engulfed. Indianapolis Star, "Woman killed in north-side house fire," 22 Feb. 2018 The bus was quickly engulfed in flames as a powerful blast swept through the city streets, blowing out its windows and strewing debris everywhere. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Natural Gas-Powered Bus Explodes After Colliding With Low Tunnel Overpass," 14 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'engulf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of engulf

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about engulf

Statistics for engulf

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for engulf

The first known use of engulf was in 1555

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for engulf



English Language Learners Definition of engulf

: to flow over and cover (someone or something)


en·​gulf | \ in-ˈgəlf How to pronounce engulf (audio) \
engulfed; engulfing

Kids Definition of engulf

1 : to flow over and cover or surround The town was engulfed by the flood.
2 : to be overwhelmed by He was engulfed by fear.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on engulf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for engulf

Spanish Central: Translation of engulf

Nglish: Translation of engulf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of engulf for Arabic Speakers

Comments on engulf

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


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!