whelm

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verb \ˈhwelm, ˈwelm\

Definition of whelm

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to turn (something, such as a dish or vessel) upside down usually to cover something :  cover or engulf completely with usually disastrous effect

  3. 2 :  to overcome in thought or feeling :  overwhelm whelmed with a rush of joy — G. A. Wagner

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  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

  1. 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

Middle English


First Known Use: 14th century



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