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 The lightning strike isn’t the first time Williams has overcome a serious injury. Mario Ariza, sun-sentinel.com, "Paralyzed in a car crash, then nearly killed by lightning, he counts himself lucky," 7 Nov. 2019 Smith had made waves with her dramatic tales of overcoming devastating illnesses to become a competitive powerlifter, a sport mostly dominated by men. BostonGlobe.com, "A powerlifter raised thousands for her cancer battle that police say was a lie - The Boston Globe," 7 Nov. 2019 Minor League Golf Tour: Toks Pedro of Bowie overcame a triple bogey to earn his first victory on the Minor League Golf Tour with a 4-under par 68 at Sandhill Crane Golf Club. Baltimore Sun Staff, baltimoresun.com, "Morgan State men’s basketball trounces Central Pennsylvania, 71-44, in Kevin Broadus’ coaching debut," 7 Nov. 2019 Texas defeated Purdue 72-68 last season in Austin, overcoming 40 points by Carsen Edwards, now with the Boston Celtics. Mark Rosner, Houston Chronicle, "UT's Andrew Jones excels in his return from leukemia treatment," 6 Nov. 2019 Elicker was not deterred and completed the deal Tuesday night — overcoming his loss six years earlier against Harp in the 2013 contest. Christopher Keating, courant.com, "Justin Elicker defeats incumbent Mayor Toni Harp in New Haven," 5 Nov. 2019 The Boilermakers overcame more hardship as their backup-turned-starting quarterback Jack Plummer hurt his right ankle, forcing third-stringer Aidan O’Connell into action. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Big Ten power rankings: Ohio State still rules; does Michigan football go up this week?," 4 Nov. 2019 The Blues have been sensational under the guidance of legendary midfielder Frank Lampard, who was appointed as head coach in the summer, overcoming a slow start to the season to lie third in the Premier League after 11 games. SI.com, "Mason Mounts Reveals His Chelsea Ambitions After Scintillating Start to Life Under Frank Lampard," 4 Nov. 2019 To save the day, players have to find clever ways to combine their strengths and overcome a constantly evolving set of dangers and obstacles. Owen Duffy, Ars Technica, "The best new board games from the world’s biggest board game show," 3 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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Statistics for overcome

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for overcome

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

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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).


to speed up the process or progress of

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