- to submerge, cover, or engulf
- to overpower or crush; overwhelm
Origin of whelmMiddle English welmen, whelmen: uncertain or unknown; perhaps merging of Old English -hwelfan, to overwhelm, with helmian, to cover: see helm
transitive verbwhelmed, whelm·ing, whelms Archaic
- To cover with water; submerge.
- To overwhelm.
Origin of whelmMiddle English whelmen, to overturn, probably alteration (influenced by helmen, to cover) of whelven, from Old English -hwelfan (as in ahwelfan, to cover over).
(third-person singular simple present whelms, present participle whelming, simple past and past participle whelmed)
From Middle English whelmen (“to turn over, capsize; make an arch cover; experience a reversal"), akin to Middle English whelven (“to cover over, bury; invert; bring to ruin, to move by rolling"), akin to Old English ahwelfan, ahwylfan (“to cast down, cover over"), Old English helmian (“to cover"), akin to Old Saxon bihwelbian, Dutch welven (“to arch") German wÃ¶lben, Old High German welben, Icelandic hvelfa (“to overturn; compare"), Ancient Greek ÎºÏŒÎ»Ï€Î¿Ï‚ (kolpos, “bosom, hollow, gulf").