verb (used with object)

  1. to come upon or meet with, especially unexpectedly: to encounter a new situation.
  2. to meet with or contend against (difficulties, opposition, etc.): We encounter so many problems in our work.
  3. to meet (a person, military force, etc.) in conflict: We will encounter the enemy at dawn.

verb (used without object)

  1. to meet, especially unexpectedly or in conflict: We were angry when we encountered, but we parted with smiles.


  1. a meeting with a person or thing, especially a casual, unexpected, or brief meeting: Our running into each other was merely a chance encounter.
  2. a meeting of persons or groups that are in conflict or opposition; combat; battle: Another such encounter and we may lose the war.
  3. Psychology. a meeting of two or more people, as the members of an encounter group or a number of married couples (marriage encounter), conducted to promote direct emotional confrontations among the participants, especially as a form of therapy (encounter therapy).


  1. to come upon or meet casually or unexpectedly
  2. to come into conflict with (an enemy, army, etc) in battle or contest
  3. (tr) to be faced with; contend withhe encounters many obstacles in his work


  1. a meeting with a person or thing, esp when casual or unexpected
  2. a hostile meeting; contest or conflict

c.1300, “to meet as an adversary,” from Old French encontrer “confront,” from encontre (see encounter (n.). Weakened sense of “casually meet” first recorded in English early 16c. Related: Encountered; encountering.


c.1300, “meeting of adversaries, confrontation,” from Old French encontre “meeting; fight; opportunity,” noun use of preposition/adverb encontre “against, counter to” from Late Latin incontra “in front of,” from Latin in- “in” (see in- (2)) + contra “against” (see contra). Modern use of the word in psychology is from 1967, from the work of U.S. psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987). Encounter group attested from 1967.

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