The Meaning of Overwhelmed: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? This article will teach you the meaning of overwhelmed and other topics related to this word.

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Have you ever been overwhelmed by work, school, or your personal life? Feeling overwhelmed is common when a lot is going on in your life (and even sometimes when very little is going on). 

Read this article to learn what the word overwhelmed means and how to use it. This article will also cover topics like the origin of overwhelmed, synonyms and antonyms, and translations of overwhelmed.

What Does the Word Overwhelmed Mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, the word overwhelmed is a verb with both literal and metaphorical uses. Literally, to overwhelm means to overcome by force. Figuratively, overwhelm means to overcome with a strong feeling or intense emotion; often, these are negative emotions. 

The word overwhelmed can also be used as an adjective. The pronunciation of overwhelm is ˌəʊvəˈwelm, and overwhelm is three syllables: o-ver-whelm.

What Is the Origin of Overwhelmed?

According to Dictionary, the word overwhelm has been used since Middle English in the 1300s. The word overwhelmed is a combination of the prefix over, and then uncommon word whelm. 

Whelm has been used since the Middle English whelme in the 1200s. This term comes from the Middle English whelve, from the Old English gehwelfan meaning to bend over, and the Old English helmian meaning to cover.

How Can Overwhelmed Be Used in a Sentence?

Overwhelmed can be used both literally and figuratively, depending on the context. As you read the example sentences below, see if you can determine if overwhelmed is being used literally or figuratively. Then, try to use the word overwhelmed in a sentence yourself!

Example #1: Emotionally Overwhelmed

She was feeling extreme emotional overwhelm due to her stressors, like her job, her needy boyfriend, and her annoying friends.

Example #2: Overwhelmed by Waves

The visitors to the UK stood on the rocky shoreline and were overwhelmed by waves. They were all perfectly fine but very soggy on the bus ride home. 

Example #3: Overwhelmed by Ballots

The local public officials and postal service were overwhelmed by the uptick in mail votes. The profusion of the large number of users who barely followed state absentee ballot deadlines caused them to work around the clock for the February election.

Example #4: Overwhelmed by Invaders

They were overwhelmed with terror when the invading army — a superior force — arrived to crush and defeat them.

Example #5: Joyously Overwhelmed

In April, the fans were overwhelmed with joy at their team’s win against their opponents and took their celebration to the streets..

Example #6: Overwhelmed by Closures

The rapid-fire closures of the nation’s largest slaughterhouses left the farmers overwhelmed and in despair. They had nowhere to sell their animals and were not making enough money to feed them all. They did not know what to do.

What Are Translations of Overwhelmed?

You may end up in a situation where you need to tell someone you are overwhelmed, but they do not speak English. In this case, you can use these translations of overwhelmed from Nice Translator to assist you. Feeling overwhelmed is common for many people in many places.

  • Slovak: ohromený
  • Romanian: copleşit
  • Estonian: ülekoormatud
  • Swedish: överväldigad
  • Korean: 압도 된
  • Bulgarian: претоварени
  • Malayalam: ക്ഷീണിച്ചു
  • Welsh: llethu
  • Portuguese (Portugal): sobrecarregado
  • Latvian: satriekts
  • Czech: zahlceni
  • Filipino: nalulula
  • Polish: przytłoczony
  • Turkish: ezilmiş
  • Portuguese (Brazil): sobrecarregado
  • Hungarian: túlterhelt
  • Norwegian: overveldet
  • Gujarati: ભરાયેલા
  • Lithuanian: priblokšti
  • Greek: κατακλύζει
  • Indonesian: kewalahan
  • Telugu: నిరుత్సాహపరుచు
  • Croatian: preplavljeni
  • Icelandic: óvart
  • French: dépassé
  • Tamil: மூழ்கியது
  • Swahili: imeharibiwa
  • Hebrew: הום ​​המום
  • Arabic: مثقل
  • Bengali: বিব্রতকর
  • Japanese: 圧倒する
  • Chinese (PRC): 不堪重负
  • Slovenian: preobremenjeni
  • Vietnamese: choáng ngợp
  • Hindi: अभिभूत
  • Marathi: डोईवरून पाणी
  • German: überwältigt
  • Finnish: ällikällä lyöty
  • Catalan: aclaparat
  • Amharic: መጨመር
  • Serbian: преплављени
  • Dutch: beduusd
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 不堪重負
  • Danish: overvældet
  • Russian: перегруженный
  • Spanish: abrumados
  • Malay: terharu
  • Thai: ล้นหลาม
  • Kannada: ಜರುಗಿತು
  • Italian: sopraffatti
  • Urdu: مغلوب
  • Basque: larritu
  • Ukrainian: переповнений

What Are Synonyms of the Word Overwhelmed?

Since the word overwhelmed can be used literally and figuratively, people can use many words in its place for both definitions. Additionally, the word overwhelmed can have a negative connotation. 

Sometimes, you might feel overwhelmed by a positive emotion. In both of these cases, you can turn to this list of synonyms of overwhelmed from Power Thesaurus to help you out.

  • affected
  • agape
  • aghast
  • amazed
  • astonished
  • astounded
  • awash
  • awed
  • awestruck
  • beat
  • beaten
  • bemused
  • bested
  • bewildered
  • blown away
  • bowled over
  • broken
  • burdened
  • changed
  • confounded
  • confused
  • conquered
  • crushed
  • dazed
  • dazzled
  • defeated
  • deluged
  • devastated
  • dismayed
  • distressed
  • downtrodden
  • drown
  • dumbfounded
  • dumbstruck
  • engulfed
  • flabbergasted
  • flooded
  • floored
  • impressed
  • inundated
  • licked
  • marveling
  • moved
  • overborne
  • overcome
  • overloaded
  • overmastered
  • overpowered
  • overthrown
  • overtook
  • perplexed
  • prostrate
  • puzzled
  • repulsed
  • routed
  • ruined
  • shattered
  • shocked
  • slaphappy
  • smashed
  • speechless
  • staggered
  • stir
  • strike
  • stunned
  • submerged
  • surprised
  • swamped
  • taken aback
  • thrash
  • thunderstruck
  • touched
  • trounce
  • trounced
  • upset
  • vanquished
  • whelmed
  • worsted

What Are Antonyms of the Word Overwhelmed?

Power Thesaurus also lists antonyms of overwhelmed. If something does not overwhelm you, it underwhelms you. Keep reading to get a sense of how something might be considered underwhelming.

  • amateurish
  • anticlimactic
  • anticlimax
  • average
  • banal
  • boring
  • characterless
  • colorless
  • common
  • commonplace
  • customary
  • disappointed
  • disappointing
  • disappointingly
  • disappointment
  • disillusioning
  • dismaying
  • drab
  • drag
  • dreary
  • dull
  • everyday
  • forgettable
  • lackluster
  • mediocre
  • ordinary
  • underwhelming
  • unexceptional
  • unexciting
  • unremarkable


The word overwhelmed can be used literally and figuratively to describe being overcome by physical forces or feelings and emotions. Unfortunately, the word overwhelmed has a largely negative connotation and is usually not good. If you feel overwhelmed by different emotions, make sure to talk to someone who can help you out.


  1. Overwhelmed synonyms – 604 Words and Phrases for Overwhelmed | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Overwhelmed antonyms – 106 Opposites of Overwhelmed | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Overwhelm definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  4. Whelm Definition & Meaning | 
  5. Overwhelmed | Nice Translator