en·​gulf | \in-ˈgəlf, 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 , 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

In 2015, there were no obvious outward signs of the scandal that would come to engulf the sport. Rachel Axon, USA TODAY, "USA Gymnastics CEO said ‘we’re pretty good’ as sex abuse crisis was nearing," 12 June 2018 This is to be expected, given the many scandals engulfing the Trump administration and the president’s relentless violation of political norms. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Scourge of Trumpism in Conservative Journalism," 14 May 2018 Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the Model S engulfed in flames. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Tesla battery reignited twice after fatal crash in Florida: report," 26 June 2018 Survivors clawed their way out of the debris or called for help before the fire engulfed them. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The Hammond Train Wreck of 1918 Killed Scores of Circus Performers," 22 June 2018 Kimball still remembers hearing the tires pop, as the flames engulfed them. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Fire at family home still vivid for IndyCar's Charlie Kimball," 25 May 2018 As rumors continue to engulf him, Brad Hand might be the person least affected by the noise. Dennis Lin, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Days before the trade deadline, Brad Hand goes back-to-back-to-back," 29 July 2017 The bell for the bar was reportedly rung repeatedly; when the bartender asked a regular patron to open the door and see who was there, flames engulfed the club’s interior. New York Times, "A Fire Killed 32 at a New Orleans Gay Bar. This Artist Didn’t Forget.," 9 July 2018 The footage looks like a scene from a horror movie: A massive cloud of smoke envelops a Nigerian roadway as bright red and orange flames engulf a line of passenger cars. Siobhán O'grady, Washington Post, "Oil tanker explodes during rush hour on Nigerian highway, burning 54 cars," 29 June 2018

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

12 Nov 2018

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 \
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).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!