over·​come | \ ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio) \
overcame\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈkām How to pronounce overcome (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 Erica was overcome with emotion when Jane presented her a check for more than $8,000 on the day of the bonfire. Michelle Matthews | Mmatthews@al.com, al, "Meet the woman with the biggest heart on Dauphin Island," 5 Jan. 2021 Moreover, Mussolini believed that any weaknesses could be overcome by sheer willpower. Washington Post, "World War II’s less-famous fascist," 31 Dec. 2020 Distrust can be overcome, says Theresa Chapple-McGruder, a maternal and child epidemiologist working in the Washington, DC, area, but the educational efforts needed to reassure people have been neglected thus far. Maryn Mckenna, Wired, "Yes to Masks. No to Parties. 2021 Will Be a Lot Like 2020," 31 Dec. 2020 He was overcome with emotion as his daughter gives him a hug of support while watching all the vehicles drive around his culdesac with family members wishing him a happy birthday. John Kuntz, cleveland, "cleveland.com photographer John Kuntz’s favorite 20 photos from 2020," 30 Dec. 2020 If Kevin was perceived as gazing at the tube, the critical angle was greater than when Kevin was blindfolded, suggesting that his gaze was impressing some force upon the tube that needed to be overcome for the tube to fall. Robert Martone, Scientific American, "When Our Gaze Is a Physical Force," 29 Dec. 2020 In an agency long known for its competence, hubris became the nemesis that could not be overcome. David Willman, Anchorage Daily News, "The CDC’s failed race to roll out a virus test," 26 Dec. 2020 The polarization has lead to a mountain of misinformation that will need to be overcome if the vaccine is to see widespread adoption. Desiree Stennett, orlandosentinel.com, "Black leaders in Central Florida join push to build trust in COVID vaccinations," 23 Dec. 2020 Loneliness and sorrows are best overcome by the revelations of unexpected simple pleasures. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Most heavenly holiday music: Messiaen and Christmas in 20 virtuosic piano visions," 23 Dec. 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

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Overcome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overcome. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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