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Dictionary versus the real world
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Dictionary versus the real world

Looking at the word ‘overwhelm’, we want to compare how the dictionary describes this verb’s meanings with the way this word is used.
© Michael Rundell. CC BY-NC 4.0

In this exercise, we’re asking you to compare the way a dictionary describes the meanings of a word, and the way the word is used in normal communication.

For this purpose, we will be using two resources: a dictionary entry for the word ‘overwhelm’, and 10 sentences from the corpus showing this verb, ‘overwhelm’, in real contexts.

Your task

Match each of the 10 sentences to one of the word senses shown in the dictionary entry for ‘overwhelm’.
  1. Scotland’s wild salmon population is in danger of being overwhelmed by the farmed variety, according to the findings of a recent study.
  2. She slept almost at once, a great weariness overwhelming her.
  3. In December 1832, Mehmet Ali’s son overwhelmed the Turkish army at Konya.
  4. The authorities were overwhelmed with demands for relief, especially food supplies.
  5. Julius’s wife, overwhelmed by the invitation to one of Willi’s famous parties, had gone to Vienna and bought herself a new satin dress.
  6. Advancing sand dunes threaten to overwhelm airstrips, roads, and built-up areas.
  7. Who could have anticipated such a victory only nine weeks after the same side had been overwhelmed 15-3 by Scotland.
  8. I think we were overwhelmed with the support we received from so many of our neighbours.
  9. We are reflecting on the practical issues that overwhelm the bereaved person.
  10. On their last day they were overwhelmed by farewell messages and gifts.
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© Michael Rundell. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Understanding English Dictionaries

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