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

Definition of overcome

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to gain the superiority : win strong in the faith that truth would overcome

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Requirements included the nominee overcoming adversity, which Plewa-Allen did by surviving the breast cancer diagnosed at age 36. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Katy woman combines cycling, love of outdoors to make a difference," 5 Dec. 2019 But if a new insect arrives that is able to circumvent those defenses, the trees are easily overcome. Zach St. George, Scientific American, "Can We Identify Invasive Species before They Invade?," 5 Dec. 2019 This is a group of women who have conquered the book industry, who have somehow overcome every one of the innumerable barriers that block the way and made it. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "Bully for You," 3 Dec. 2019 There are teams in the NFL that can overcome something like that, but the Colts aren’t one of them. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Field goal unit has been comedy of errors that will likely cost Colts playoffs," 2 Dec. 2019 While the Conservatives have capitalized on the upheaval, building a coalition of pro-Brexit voters across regional and class lines, the left has so far struggled to win converts and overcome its own divisions. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "How an Anti-Brexit London District Could Help Boris Johnson Triumph," 30 Nov. 2019 Florida Gators made another late-game escape as point guard Andrew Nembhard overcame an off night just in time to help his team stave off a stunning upset loss at home. Edgar Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "Gators hold on for 73-67 win over upset-minded Marshall," 29 Nov. 2019 Edge: Broncos Ryan O’Halloran, beat writer: Chargers 17, Broncos 13 The ‘Bolts overcome two Rivers interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) by limiting the Broncos’ offense to two field goals. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against the Chargers and predictions," 29 Nov. 2019 Even if all such hurdles were overcome, however, distance would still be a problem. The Economist, "How to talk to aliens," 28 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overcome.' 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 overcome

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

History and Etymology for overcome

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

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Time Traveler for overcome

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for overcome

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Overcome.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overcome. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for overcome


How to pronounce overcome (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of overcome

: to defeat (someone or something)
: to successfully deal with or gain control of (something difficult)
: to affect (someone) very strongly or severely


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

Kids Definition of overcome

1 : to win a victory over : conquer Soldiers overcame the enemy.
2 : to gain control of through great effort He overcame his fear of heights.
3 : to cause to lose physical ability or emotional control Firefighters were overcome by smoke. The family was overcome by grief.

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Comments on overcome

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


delight or enjoyment

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