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[en-koun-ter] /ɛnˈkaʊn tər/
verb (used with object)
to come upon or meet with, especially unexpectedly:
to encounter a new situation.
to meet with or contend against (difficulties, opposition, etc.):
We encounter so many problems in our work.
to meet (a person, military force, etc.) in conflict:
We will encounter the enemy at dawn.
verb (used without object)
to meet, especially unexpectedly or in conflict:
We were angry when we encountered, but we parted with smiles.
a meeting with a person or thing, especially a casual, unexpected, or brief meeting:
Our running into each other was merely a chance encounter.
a meeting of persons or groups that are in conflict or opposition; combat; battle:
Another such encounter and we may lose the war.
Psychology. a meeting of two or more people, as the members of an encounter group or a number of married couples (marriage encounter) conducted to promote direct emotional confrontations among the participants, especially as a form of therapy (encounter therapy)
1250-1300; Middle English encountren < Anglo-French enco(u)ntrer; Old French < Vulgar Latin *incontrāre, equivalent to in- in-1 + -contrāre, derivative of contrā against; see counter3
Related forms
encounterer, noun
preencounter, noun, verb (used with object)
reencounter, verb, noun
unencountered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for encounters
  • It is by such encounters that wits come to know each other.
  • It is ordinary life with a vengeance which one encounters in issuing from the steamer dock and facing again his native city.
  • Anthropologists who favor such cooperation cite the upside of the encounters.
  • Presumably the student who encounters such a curriculum may be none the wiser about what he missed.
  • When he encounters other dogs, however, a different pattern has emerged.
  • The gangs he encounters are also organised and sophisticated.
  • When he encounters a graph, map or other such figure, the pins rise when the mouse is on a line.
  • In such encounters, neither party can decide what to do without taking into account the actions of the other.
  • The book lacks a traditional plot and instead concentrates on the narrator's encounters with place and memory.
  • After such encounters with uninvolved individuals, the rendezvous is always transferred to a location with a secure lock.
British Dictionary definitions for encounters


to come upon or meet casually or unexpectedly
to come into conflict with (an enemy, army, etc) in battle or contest
(transitive) to be faced with; contend with: he encounters many obstacles in his work
a meeting with a person or thing, esp when casual or unexpected
a hostile meeting; contest or conflict
Derived Forms
encounterer, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French encontrer, from Vulgar Latin incontrāre (unattested), from Latin in-² + contrā against, opposite
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for encounters



c.1300, "meeting of adversaries, confrontation," from Old French encontre "meeting; fight; opportunity," noun use of preposition/adverb encontre "against, counter to" from Late Latin incontra "in front of," from Latin in- "in" (see in- (2)) + contra "against" (see contra). Modern use of the word in psychology is from 1967, from the work of U.S. psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987). Encounter group attested from 1967.


c.1300, "to meet as an adversary," from Old French encontrer "confront," from encontre (see encounter (n.). Weakened sense of "casually meet" first recorded in English early 16c. Related: Encountered; encountering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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