Definition of encounter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪnˈkaʊntə/
Pronunciation: /ɛnˈkaʊntə/


[with object]
1Unexpectedly be faced with or experience (something hostile or difficult): 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, come into contact with, run into, come across, come up against, face, be faced with, confront, be forced to contend with
2Meet (someone) unexpectedly: what do we know about the people we encounter in our daily lives?
More 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, run across, come across, come upon, stumble across, stumble on, chance on, happen on
informal bump into
archaic run against


1An unexpected or casual meeting with someone or something: she felt totally unnerved by the encounter
More 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, brush, rendezvous;
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, conflict, confrontation, engagement, skirmish, brush
informal run-in, set-to, dust-up, scrap
British informal, Football  afters
archaic rencounter


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

Line breaks: en|coun¦ter

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