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

Louisville sprinter Martice Moore had some hurdles to overcome. oregonlive.com, "UO Ducks begin their pursuit of a NCAA women’s team trophy: Oregon track & field rundown," 6 June 2019 This award honors a graduating senior who has overcome a significant disability, made an impact at school and will be continuing their education the following year in some way. James Kaspar, Pomerado News, "Rancho Bernardo Rotarians award $12K in scholarships," 6 June 2019 An arduous trail and a competitive permit process aren’t the only issues to overcome to successfully hike Half Dome, though. Kimberly Veklerov, SFChronicle.com, "Yosemite’s Half Dome summit to reopen to hikers with cable installation," 5 June 2019 Eriksen may want to quit Spurs, but there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome if this deal is to go through. SI.com, "Christian Eriksen Admits He's Ready to Leave Tottenham for 'Something New'," 5 June 2019 But for Caruso, throwing herself into the role of a girl who overcomes a sense of alienation was a no-brainer. Nojan Aminosharei, Harper's BAZAAR, "Beetlejuice's Sophia Anne Caruso Is Bringing Goth to Broadway," 17 Apr. 2019 All that’s left for Shields, who overcame a childhood of poverty and abuse, is to reach best of all time. Dan Gelston, The Seattle Times, "Shields wants to lift women’s boxing into mainstream," 12 Apr. 2019 When asked which character was going to struggle the most, Chrissy says Toby had some tough days ahead of him, indicating that there may be some more hurdles to overcome. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Season 4 Sounds Like It's Going to Be a REALLY Hard One for Fans," 19 Mar. 2019 Those who overcame the Memorial’s disgraceful dedication have often reminded us that Lincoln’s—and America’s—work remains unfinished. Harold Holzer, WSJ, "An American Icon That Almost Wasn’t," 15 Feb. 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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Statistics for overcome

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overcome

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

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More Definitions for overcome



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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More from Merriam-Webster on overcome

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overcome

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overcome

Spanish Central: Translation of overcome

Nglish: Translation of overcome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overcome for Arabic Speakers

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).


a tendency to relapse

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