over·​whelm·​ing | \ˌō-vər-ˈ(h)wel-miŋ \

Definition of overwhelming 

: tending or serving to overwhelm overwhelming force overwhelming evidence also : extreme, great overwhelming indifference an overwhelming majority

Examples of overwhelming in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Designing from the soul doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Genevieve Gorder Shares How To Decorate For The Holidays Without Breaking The Bank," 13 Nov. 2018 To an average person following the news, the haze of charge and countercharge is overwhelming. David Roberts, Vox, "The caravan “invasion” and America’s epistemic crisis," 2 Nov. 2018 Ethnic Seattle Food Tour Exploring Seattle’s ethnic neighborhoods can be overwhelming without a guide to help navigate the unfamiliar signs and specialty foods at hole-in-the-wall restaurants with foreign menus. Jenna Scatena, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Things to Do in Seattle," 16 May 2018 If that all seems overwhelming to you, imagine how Twitter’s employees must feel. Aja Romano, Vox, "Twitter is planning to draft a policy on “dehumanizing speech”," 11 Aug. 2018 Eventually, the public protest against asbestos use was overwhelming. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is Asbestos, And Why Did We Use It So Much?," 7 Aug. 2018 Selecting a hike can seem overwhelming; our favorite, though, is the Old Rag, a 9.1-mile trek that traverses a maze of boulders to finish on a giant granite slab with incredible views. Laura Ratliff, Condé Nast Traveler, "3 Best Day Trips from Washington, D.C.," 24 July 2018 Or explain how in the darkest days after the suicide of a parent, when shame and horror seemed overwhelming, these survivors kept going. Allison Klein, Washington Post, "After Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade suicides, social media light up with survivors’ stories of how they made it through," 11 June 2018 With so many amazing items to choose from, selecting your favorites may seem a bit overwhelming. Kami Phillips, PEOPLE.com, "5 Chic Finds from LOFT's Amazingly Awesome Sale," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overwhelming.' 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 overwhelming

1567, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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The first known use of overwhelming was in 1567

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More Definitions for overwhelming



English Language Learners Definition of overwhelming

: very great in number, effect, or force

—used to describe something that is so confusing, difficult, etc., that you feel unable to do it


over·​whelm·​ing | \ˌō-vər-ˈhwel-miŋ, -ˈwel-\

Kids Definition of overwhelming

1 : very great or strong an overwhelming majority

2 : very difficult or confusing an overwhelming task

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More from Merriam-Webster on overwhelming

Spanish Central: Translation of overwhelming

Nglish: Translation of overwhelming for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overwhelming for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overwhelming

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having a pattern of small flowers

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