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

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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

Example Sentences

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 Can Republican Blake Masters overcome an extremely slow start and unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona? David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2022 To get the win, the Knights had to overcome an incredible performance by Grayslake Central senior Kaiden Miller, who already had set the program record for career TD catches. Steve Reaven, Chicago Tribune, 16 Sep. 2022 Hurts did a great job of using his feet to overcome a slow start with his arm in Detroit before getting the passing game going. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 15 Sep. 2022 The move by the UK lays out the issues that Microsoft will have to overcome to pull off its biggest-ever deal. Financial Times, Ars Technica, 14 Sep. 2022 The Dallas artist has had her own journey in taking ownership of her life and this booming track can serve as motivation for the team, who will now have to overcome losing their starting quarterback. Victoria Hernandez, USA TODAY, 12 Sep. 2022 The co-founder of Cowboy, which offers models for $2,000 to $3,000, said that in Europe e-bikes had to overcome the stigma of being seen as something for older people. Tiffany Ap, Quartz, 7 Sep. 2022 However, the technology still has to overcome some hurdles to achieve the same efficiency as industrial robots. Rebecca Cairns, CNN, 1 Sep. 2022 The car company has had to overcome a slow start to the year where its assembly lines were running well below capacity, mostly due to difficulties getting semiconductors. Sean Mclain, WSJ, 19 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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 Sep. 2022.

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Kids Definition



over·​come ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio)
; overcome; overcoming
: to win a victory over : conquer
Soldiers overcame the enemy.
: to gain control of through great effort
He overcame his fear of heights.
: to cause to lose physical ability or emotional control
Firefighters were overcome by smoke.
The family was overcome by grief.

More from Merriam-Webster on overcome

Last Updated: 22 Sep 2022

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