To submerge, cover, or engulf.
To cover with water; submerge.
To overpower or crush; overwhelm.
Origin of whelm
- Middle English whelmen to overturn probably alteration (influenced by helmen to cover) of whelven from Old English -hwelfan (as in āhwelfan to cover over)
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- 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 wölben, Old High German welben, Icelandic hvelfa (“to overturn; compare"), Ancient Greek κόλπος (kolpos, “bosom, hollow, gulf").