Meaning of overwhelm


Overwhelm means “give a person too much of something.” If your friend agrees to feed your pet fish while you’re on vacation, don’t overwhelm her with requests by also asking her to do your laundry and wash the dishes.

While it’s easy to be overwhelmed by chores or complaints, it’s also possible to be overwhelmed by good things — if they occur in large quantities. You might enjoy a stack of pancakes for breakfast, but you’d probably find a truckload of pancakes overwhelming. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by emotion, and this can be a positive or negative experience, depending on the emotion. For example, you might feel overwhelmed by gratitude if your friend takes excellent care of your fish, but overwhelmed with grief if the fish is accidentally flushed in your absence.

Definitions of overwhelm
  1. verb

    overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli


    overcome, overpower, overtake, sweep over, whelm

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    overwhelm or overpower
    clutch, get hold of, seize


    overwhelm with hilarity, pleasure, or admiration

    overtake with darkness or night
    knock out

    overwhelm with admiration

    astound or overwhelm, as with shock

    hold fast (in a certain state)
    type of:

    arouse, elicit, enkindle, evoke, fire, kindle, pique, provoke, raise

    call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)

  2. verb

    overcome by superior force


    overmaster, overpower

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    steamroll, steamroller

    overwhelm by using great force
    type of:

    beat, beat out, crush, shell, trounce, vanquish

    come out better in a competition, race, or conflict

  3. verb

    charge someone with too many tasks


    deluge, flood out

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    type of:

    burden, charge, saddle

    impose a task upon, assign a responsibility to

  4. verb

    cover completely or make imperceptible


    drown, submerge

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    type of:

    cover, spread over

    form a cover over

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