over·​come | \ ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio) \
overcame\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈkām How to pronounce overcome (audio) \; overcome; overcoming

Definition of overcome

transitive verb

1 : to get the better of : surmount overcome difficulties They overcame the enemy.
2 : overwhelm were overcome by the heat and smoke

intransitive verb

: to gain the superiority : win strong in the faith that truth would overcome

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Choose the Right Synonym for overcome

conquer, vanquish, defeat, subdue, reduce, overcome, overthrow mean to get the better of by force or strategy. conquer implies gaining mastery of. Caesar conquered Gaul vanquish implies a complete overpowering. vanquished the enemy and ended the war defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals. the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas subdue implies a defeating and suppression. subdued the native tribes after years of fighting reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender. the city was reduced after a month-long siege overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle. overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power. violently overthrew the old regime

Examples of overcome in a Sentence

After a tough battle, they overcame the enemy. a story about overcoming adversity She overcame a leg injury and is back running again.
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Recent Examples on the Web Upon landing back on Earth after the 10-minute flight, Shatner was visibly overcome by emotion. Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2021 As David Castellucci worked his way up Heartbreak Hill and down the final stretch of Monday’s Boston Marathon, the Gloucester resident was overcome with gratitude. BostonGlobe.com, 12 Oct. 2021 Adopting zero trust and establishing access management solutions such as passwordless authentication can overcome the vulnerabilities of passwords, improving levels of assurance and convenience. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 History has shown us that much greater difficulties have been overcome, often at great speed. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 Oct. 2021 Indeed, Daniel, who will soon reprise her role on the Paramount+ revival of The Game, has overcome much to become a mom, including fertility struggles and a painful battle with stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2012. Aili Nahas, PEOPLE.com, 11 Oct. 2021 But these challenges can be overcome with clear labeling and adjustment for certain foods and recipes. Dr. Tom Frieden, CNN, 10 Oct. 2021 It can, however, be overcome — and the Buckeyes’ burgeoning confidence will be critical in the second half. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 9 Oct. 2021 Ja’Waun Northington rushed for a touchdown, but the offense couldn’t overcome six turnovers in a 42-10 loss to St. Xavier. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 9 Oct. 2021

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for overcome

Middle English, from Old English ofercuman, from ofer over + cuman to come

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Time Traveler for overcome

Time Traveler

The first known use of overcome was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Overcome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overcome. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for overcome



English Language Learners Definition of overcome

: to defeat (someone or something)
: to successfully deal with or gain control of (something difficult)
: to affect (someone) very strongly or severely


over·​come | \ ˌō-vər-ˈkəm How to pronounce overcome (audio) \
overcame\ -​ˈkām \; overcome; overcoming

Kids Definition of overcome

1 : to win a victory over : conquer Soldiers overcame the enemy.
2 : to gain control of through great effort He overcame his fear of heights.
3 : to cause to lose physical ability or emotional control Firefighters were overcome by smoke. The family was overcome by grief.

More from Merriam-Webster on overcome

Nglish: Translation of overcome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overcome for Arabic Speakers


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