en·​coun·​ter | \ in-ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce encounter (audio) , en- \
encountered; encountering\ in-​ˈkau̇n-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce encounter (audio) , en-​ \

Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to meet as an adversary or enemy
b : to engage in conflict with
2 : to come upon face-to-face
3 : to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly encounter difficulties

intransitive verb

: to meet especially by chance



Definition of encounter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a meeting between hostile factions or persons : a sudden often violent clash an encounter between the police and demonstrators
2a : a chance meeting an accidental encounter
b : a particular kind of meeting or experience with another person a romantic encounter
3 : a coming into the vicinity of a celestial body the Martian encounter of a spacecraft

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Examples of encounter in a Sentence

Verb We encountered problems early in the project. The pilot told us that we might encounter turbulence during the flight. Her suggestion has encountered a lot of opposition. Noun a chance encounter with a famous writer The tour boat had a close encounter with a breeching humpback whale. There was a violent encounter between fans of the opposing teams. It was her first encounter with cigarettes.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Biden, however, faces a situation all presidents encounter. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 12 Oct. 2021 This parable highlights a common pitfall that leaders encounter when addressing complex issues without taking the time to understand other relevant perspectives. Tony Gambill, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 Tesla’s scoring metric, said Heck, biases the vehicles against owners in San Francisco and New York City, who will have to resort to certain maneuvers in heavy traffic, for example, or less regularly encounter open roads. Washington Post, 10 Oct. 2021 If beachgoers encounter tar balls, they are encouraged to email tarballreports@wildlife.ca.gov. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Oct. 2021 Guided by the Mansion's Ghost Host (Will Arnett), Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn encounter a series of frights inspired by the Magic Kingdom's landmark attraction. Ew Staff, EW.com, 8 Oct. 2021 The company added that the amount of hate speech users actually encounter has declined in each of the last five quarters. Kris Van Cleave, CBS News, 5 Oct. 2021 And the monsters said people encounter in the mist were well paired with the burgeoning CGI of the aughts and director Frank Darabont’s grim vision. Patrick Connolly, orlandosentinel.com, 1 Oct. 2021 The couple’s goal is two-fold: Break the mold for what food cart food can be while introducing upscale dishes and techniques to a clientele that might never otherwise encounter them. Michael Russell, oregonlive, 22 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Kosovo Minister of Justice Selim Selimi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Meliza Haradinaj had a friendly encounter at the hotel in 2020 with Richard Grenell, Trump’s former acting director of national intelligence. Zach Everson, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2021 An Illinois woman has been sentenced to jail time following a close encounter with a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park in May. Abigail Adams, PEOPLE.com, 8 Oct. 2021 For players, the potential of private dinners, friendships with artists, exclusive parties, a celebrity encounter here and there are all dangled like carrots. Kelly Crow, WSJ, 7 Oct. 2021 These will include a séance with Madame Philomena, a visit to Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, a battle between Mephistopheles and Faustus and a live encounter with Poe. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Oct. 2021 There’s another scene that, decades ago, would have been a seduction — and is now a more nonchalant encounter between Bond and Nomi, an MI6 agent who turns out to have been assigned the code number…007. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 28 Sep. 2021 Regina arrives in a wheelchair and has a prickly first hallway encounter with Jennifer. Nick Schager, EW.com, 27 Sep. 2021 Earlier this week, a gunman opened fire inside a Kroger supermarket outside Memphis, turning the routine task of grocery shopping into a terrifying encounter with gun violence. BostonGlobe.com, 25 Sep. 2021 Earlier this week, a gunman opened fire inside a Kroger supermarket outside Memphis, turning the routine task of grocery shopping into a terrifying encounter with gun violence. Washington Post, 25 Sep. 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for encounter


Middle English encountren, from Anglo-French encuntrer, from Medieval Latin incontrare, from Late Latin incontra toward, from Latin in- + contra against — more at counter

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Time Traveler for encounter

Time Traveler

The first known use of encounter was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near encounter




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Statistics for encounter

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Encounter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encounter. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for encounter



English Language Learners Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to have or experience (problems, difficulties, etc.)
: to meet (someone) without expecting or intending to



English Language Learners Definition of encounter (Entry 2 of 2)

: a meeting that is not planned or expected
: a usually brief experience with another person
: a violent or very unfriendly meeting


en·​coun·​ter | \ in-ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce encounter (audio) \
encountered; encountering

Kids Definition of encounter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to meet face-to-face or by chance I encountered an old friend.
2 : to experience or face often unexpectedly Have you encountered any difficulty?



Kids Definition of encounter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a meeting face-to-face and often by chance
2 : an often unexpected experience It was his first encounter with fame.

More from Merriam-Webster on encounter

Nglish: Translation of encounter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of encounter for Arabic Speakers


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