over·come | \ˌō-vər-ˈkəm \
overcame\ˌō-vər-ˈkām \; 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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Other Words from overcome

overcomer noun

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

This community-centered, multidisciplinary approach helps our participating members overcome the everyday barriers to achieving their best health. Karen S. Lynch, STAT, "Everyone deserves a holistic, patient-centric health care system," 12 July 2018 Many prominent socialist women also founded their own socialist publications and formed their own groups was a way to overcome the practical barriers to political participation. Olivia Campbell, Smithsonian, "The Historical Struggle to Rid Socialism of Sexism," 12 July 2018 The stories of women who are facing—and overcoming—such barriers have become a driving force for National Geographic Explorers Clare Feiseler and Gabby Salazar, who highlight the issue in their new documentary Outnumbered in Africa. Gabby Salazar, National Geographic, "Where Women Must Defy the Odds to Become Scientists," 12 June 2018 To meet its goal of 100% clean energy, Pueblo will need to overcome a raft of technical, financial and legal challenges. Justin Worland/pueblo, Time, "How One Industrial City Is Fighting to Go Green," 12 July 2018 Commuters overcome by the gas were left writhing in pain. Washington Post, "Long wait has ended in Japan for execution of cult leader," 6 July 2018 This relentlessly surprising World Cup has taken a new and compelling turn after England–England!–won a penalty shootout, overcoming its past demons and finding itself with a realistic path to the final. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "This World Cup's Latest Twist: England Wins a Penalty Kick Shootout," 3 July 2018 Ultimately, the space station humans join the cause of Wall-E and EVE, overcoming their complacency and taking a literal step out of their comfort zones. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Wall-E' References That Need to Be Revisited," 27 June 2018 Any Longhorns overcome by stress were doing a terrific job of suppressing it. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Longhorns’ season on brink," 18 June 2018

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

14 Oct 2018

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 \
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).


not any or not one

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