Overwhelm means “give a person too much of something.” If your friend agrees to feed your pet fish while you’re on vacation, don’t overwhelm her with requests by also asking her to do your laundry and wash the dishes.

While it’s easy to be overwhelmed by chores or complaints, it’s also possible to be overwhelmed by good things — if they occur in large quantities. You might enjoy a stack of pancakes for breakfast, but you'd probably find a truckload of pancakes overwhelming. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by emotion, and this can be a positive or negative experience, depending on the emotion. For example, you might feel overwhelmed by gratitude if your friend takes excellent care of your fish, but overwhelmed with grief if the fish is accidentally flushed in your absence.

Definitions of overwhelm
  1. verb
    overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli
    synonyms: overcome, overpower, overtake, sweep over, whelm
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    overwhelm or overpower
    clutch, get hold of, seize
    overwhelm with hilarity, pleasure, or admiration
    overtake with darkness or night
    knock out
    overwhelm with admiration
    astound or overwhelm, as with shock
    hold fast (in a certain state)
    type of:
    arouse, elicit, enkindle, evoke, fire, kindle, pique, provoke, raise
    call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)
  2. verb
    overcome by superior force
    synonyms: overmaster, overpower
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    steamroll, steamroller
    overwhelm by using great force
    type of:
    beat, beat out, crush, shell, trounce, vanquish
    come out better in a competition, race, or conflict
  3. verb
    charge someone with too many tasks
    synonyms: deluge, flood out
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    type of:
    burden, charge, saddle
    impose a task upon, assign a responsibility to
  4. verb
    cover completely or make imperceptible
    synonyms: drown, submerge
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    type of:
    cover, spread over
    form a cover over
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