verb (used with object)
- to overcome completely in mind or feeling: overwhelmed by remorse.
- to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush: Roman troops were overwhelmed by barbarians.
- to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge: Lava from erupting Vesuvius overwhelmed the city of Pompeii.
- to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything: a child overwhelmed with presents; to overwhelm someone with questions.
- to overthrow.
- to overpower the thoughts, emotions, or senses of
- to overcome with irresistible force
- to overcome, as with a profusion or concentration of something
- to cover over or bury completely
- to weigh or rest upon overpoweringly
- archaic to overturn
v.early 14c., “to turn upside down, to overthrow,” from over- + Middle English whelmen “to turn upside down” (see whelm). Meaning “to submerge completely” is mid-15c. Perhaps the connecting notion is a boat, etc., washed over, and overset, by a big wave. Figurative sense of “to bring to ruin” is attested from 1520s. Related: Overwhelmed; overwhelming; overwhelmingly.