over·​come ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio)
overcame ˌō-vər-ˈkām How to pronounce overcome (audio) ; overcome; overcoming

transitive verb

: to get the better of : surmount
overcome difficulties
They overcame the enemy.
: overwhelm
were overcome by the heat and smoke

intransitive verb

: to gain the superiority : win
strong in the faith that truth would overcome
Choose the Right Synonym for overcome

conquer, vanquish, defeat, subdue, reduce, overcome, overthrow mean to get the better of by force or strategy.

conquer implies gaining mastery of.

Caesar conquered Gaul

vanquish implies a complete overpowering.

vanquished the enemy and ended the war

defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals.

the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas

subdue implies a defeating and suppression.

subdued the native tribes after years of fighting

reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender.

the city was reduced after a month-long siege

overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle.

overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks

overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power.

violently overthrew the old regime

Examples of overcome in a Sentence

After a tough battle, they overcame the enemy. a story about overcoming adversity She overcame a leg injury and is back running again.
Recent Examples on the Web Your kids will learn about pride (and overcoming it), teamwork, and striving for excellence with a spirit of unity. Lynnette Nicholas, Parents, 16 Feb. 2024 In our experience, these barriers can be overcome when leaders are adaptable in their methods, relying on coaching conversations instead. Tim Eyre, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 The shooting devastated the Kansas City community, and came at the end of what was a storybook season for the Chiefs, after the team overcame initial struggles to take their second consecutive Super Bowl title in an overtime victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Annie Gowen, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 Golden State finishes the unofficial first half a game over .500, 27-26, having overcome more than a mediocre record might indicate. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 These challenges include limited access to costly health care, overcoming housing insecurity, expanding access to homeownership, securing our borders, providing a safe, quality education and taking care of our aging transportation and infrastructure needs. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 Posner overcame his fear of intimacy and avoidant patterns, which led him to realizing how important having a family in the future means to him. Jordyn Bradley, Fortune Well, 15 Feb. 2024 Via his own label Young Hueston, LLC, with distribution by Silver Wings Records, Hueston’s music centers on sharing his story through soulful vocals and guitar work, using his songwriting to share his personal journey of overcoming addiction and depression and starting a new life chapter. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 15 Feb. 2024 However, with the appointment of a new superintendent, Ryan Walters, there is hope for fresh perspectives, new ideas and overcoming existing obstacles. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 14 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overcome.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English ofercuman, from ofer over + cuman to come

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of overcome was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near overcome

Cite this Entry

“Overcome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overcome. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


over·​come ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio)
overcame -ˈkām How to pronounce overcome (audio) ; overcome; overcoming
: to gain an advantage or victory over
overcome an enemy
: to make helpless or exhausted
was overcome by gas

More from Merriam-Webster on overcome

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