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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web He's overcome a lot of disabilities, the poor guy, in his life. EW.com, 27 June 2024 One of his greatest achievements was overcoming alcoholism. Frederick N. Rasmussen, Baltimore Sun, 27 June 2024 The balanced offensive attack has helped the Mets overcome a short-handed bullpen and a starting staff that rarely pitches beyond the sixth inning. Peter Sblendorio, New York Daily News, 27 June 2024 The 34-year-old progressive, known as AOC, overcame a challenge from 66-year-old investment banker Marty Dolan, who positioned himself as a moderate alternative. Jeremy Yurow, USA TODAY, 26 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for overcome 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overcome.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


over·​come ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio)
overcame -ˈkām How to pronounce overcome (audio) ; overcome; overcoming
: to gain an advantage or victory over
overcome an enemy
: to make helpless or exhausted
was overcome by gas

More from Merriam-Webster on overcome

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!