Definition of encounter in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /inˈkoun(t)ər/
Pronunciation: /enˈkoun(t)ər/


[with object]
1Unexpectedly experience or be faced with (something difficult or hostile): we have encountered one small problem
More example sentences
  • Officials said coalition forces ordered the airstrike after encountering hostile fire from the location.
  • He said the troops did not encounter any hostile fire.
  • But they're likely to encounter a hostile European Union.
experience, hit, run into, come up against, face, be faced with, confront
1.1Meet (someone) unexpectedly.
Example sentences
  • Upon his return he encountered Mistress Dorset in the corridor.
  • Rather, it appeared to be shock at encountering the person she least expected to meet.
  • It is only infrequently in life that one encounters people whose talents have been recognised and honoured by society.
meet, meet by chance, run into, come across/upon, stumble across/on/upon, chance on/upon, happen on/upon
informal bump into


1An unexpected or casual meeting with someone or something.
Example sentences
  • Our casual lakeside encounters evolved into more regular meetings, dancing and dating.
  • But you probably don't appreciate casual encounters.
  • When you go to work, or visit a park, it is possible that you will have a range of unexpected encounters, however fleeting or seemingly inconsequential.
meeting, chance meeting
1.1A confrontation or unpleasant struggle: his close encounter with death
More example sentences
  • But men have also reported unpleasant online encounters.
  • It was the nastiest moment in countless unpleasant footballing encounters.
  • ‘Border guards…,’ I thought with awe, bracing myself for an unpleasant encounter.
battle, fight, clash, confrontation, struggle, skirmish, engagement
informal run-in, set-to, scrap


Middle English (in the senses 'meet as an adversary' and 'a meeting of adversaries'; formerly also as incounter): from Old French encontrer (verb), encontre (noun), based on Latin in- 'in' + contra 'against'.

Words that rhyme with encounter

counter, mounter

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: en·coun·ter

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.