Definition of whelm
- whelmed with a rush of joy
- —G. A. Wagner
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the news so whelmed them that they were stunned into silence
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whelm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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."
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
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