Definition of whelm
1 : to turn (something, such as a dish or vessel) upside down usually to cover something : cover or engulf completely with usually disastrous effect
2 : to overcome in thought or feeling : overwhelm whelmed with a rush of joy — G. A. Wagner
: to pass or go over something so as to bury or submerge it
whelm was our Word of the Day on 01/27/2013. Hear the podcast!
Examples of whelm in a sentence
the news so whelmed them that they were stunned into silence
Did You Know?
It is not overwhelming and it is not underwhelming. You leave the production feeling merely whelmed. Thus wrote Michael Phillips in the Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2001. Contemporary writers like Philips sometimes use "whelm" to denote a middle stage between "underwhelm" and "overwhelm." But that's not how "whelm" has traditionally been used. "Whelm" and "overwhelm" have been with us since Middle English (when they were "whelmen" and "overwhelmen"), and throughout the years their meanings have largely overlapped. Both words early on meant "to overturn," for example, and both have also come to mean "to overpower in thought or feeling." Around 1950, however, folks started using a third word, "underwhelmed," for "unimpressed," and lately "whelmed" has been popping up with the meaning "moderately impressed."
Origin and Etymology of whelm
First Known Use: 14th century
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