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

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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



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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 issue of the Thirty Meter Telescope issue has engulfed Hawaii since mid-July when the state announced construction would begin after a decade-long permit and appeals process. Washington Post, "Hawaii governor decries death threats over telescope," 13 Sep. 2019 Massive flames engulfed the area of Dupo, Illinois on Tuesday afternoon after a Union Pacific train was derailed. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "Train Derailment Causes Massive Fire, Leading to School and Neighborhood Evacuations," 10 Sep. 2019 Within an hour, the water engulfed the first floor of his friend's home. Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "Jet skiers saved 100 people trapped in flooded homes in the Bahamas," 7 Sep. 2019 As time progressed on Thursday fierce waves engulfed the Jeep, knocking its bumper off. Fox News, "Jeep abandoned on Myrtle Beach as Hurricane Dorian rages; onlookers take selfies," 6 Sep. 2019 The fire eventually engulfed part of Sonoma County, roared through Santa Rosa and killed 22 people. George Avalos, The Mercury News, "PG&E must face Tubbs wildfire victims in state court: bankruptcy ruling," 16 Aug. 2019 Venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Los Angeles Times, "Here are the feature and TV films airing the week of Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019," 11 Aug. 2019 By continuing to elaborate these contacts, a cell like MK-D1 could eventually engulf its bacterial partner. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "We’ve finally gotten a look at the microbe that might have been our ancestor," 7 Aug. 2019 Large clouds of smoke have engulfed major cities, including the third-largest, Novosibirsk, which has led to serious health risks. Catherine Kim, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Crisis averted — kind of," 2 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of engulf

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for engulf

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for engulf

The first known use of engulf was in 1555

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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.

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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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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