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 Many of these giveaways can be overcome with software tweaks. Renee Diresta, Wired, "AI-Generated Text Is the Scariest Deepfake of All," 31 July 2020 This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of White America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "What's streaming in August," 30 July 2020 Efforts that over-index on individual behaviors ignore the counter forces of structures and systems that can’t be overcome by sheer grit alone. Erin L. Thomas, Quartz at Work, "How to turn corporate antiracism from promise to practice," 30 July 2020 There’s a certain bravado that comes with playing baseball this year, a sense that will power and team unity will overcome. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "As Buster Posey’s decision ripples across baseball, will more stars opt out?," 10 July 2020 The romantic moment was quickly overcome with comedy after Snow turned to her then to-be husband, to take in the beauty of the venue, only to have lipstick on her teeth. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "Brittany Snow on Her ‘Imperfectly Perfect’ Wedding Day: 'We Made It All Work'," 9 July 2020 Neil was overcome with dread that his 52-year-old brother would be among them. Anchorage Daily News, "Thousands sick from COVID-19 in homes for the disabled," 28 June 2020 Syrian legislator Muhannad Haj Ali, who has been under European and American sanctions for years, said Syria survived past economic crises and will overcome the Caesar Act. Time, "Looming U.S. Sanctions Shake Syria, Hasten Economic Meltdown," 12 June 2020 The challenge and the way Indian IT companies helped overcome it, played a vital role in establishing India’s tech prowess globally. Cp Gurnani, Quartz India, "An Indian IT veteran’s tips for corporate leaders to survive the pandemic," 10 June 2020

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

4 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Overcome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overcome. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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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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