First of all, for you skeptics out there, “whelmed” is really a word, though we don’t use it because it doesn’t seem to have any relationship to it’s more popular off-spring, Over- and Under.

WHELM (verb)
1. to submerge; engulf.
2. to overcome utterly; overwhelm: whelmed by misfortune.

So overwhelmed implies misfortune? How does that work when used as “Overwhelmed by gratitude, joy, or excitement?” Are those things actually misfortune in disguise? Or is it the oncoming waters of drowning and submersion that carry the negative implication?

Sometimes, the weird ins and outs of our peculiar language leave me agape. That’s right. Agape. And what do you want to make of it, eh? I’ll whelm you if you diss me, girlie!


Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. so.. whelm is really a word.. but the underwhelm… how can it be whelming if it is under? it is like saying, a little bit too much.. English is not my mother language..


  2. effectively it is a word that went by the wayside. there are lots of these – for example where we have a negative of something but the original word has become archaic. there is actually a word for them but i have forgotten what it is

    Liked by 1 person

        1. It has made it into the dictionary, but a lot of stuff has made it that I think is too transient to be counted into the language … but, as everyone has observed, languages are all moving targets … at least those that are in current use.


                    1. It’s almost entirely oak. Just a few maple, sassafras, and lilac along the outside edges. The oaks are tall. They form a canopy, so after awhile, all the other trees die from lack of light. It’s why my house is dark. We are surrounded by oak trees. Lamont would have a LOT of companionship.


  3. Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agápē) is “love: the highest form of love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.” Not to be confused with philia – brotherly love – agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s also “wide open” as in “her mouth hung agape at his statement.” Which is what I meant. Like many words in English, the spelling is the same as another word, but the pronunciation and meaning are not. Like read (present tense) and read (past tense). Just one of many.

      “You can lead a horse to water, but don’t let him eat that lead pipe.”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You may be already familiar with the English translation of a poem written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer during his imprisonment before he was hanged by the Third Reich. The second stanza of “Christian and Unbelievers” uses the word ‘whelmed’.

    “Men to to God when he is sore bestead,
    Find him poor and scorned, without shelter or bread,
    Whelmed under the weight of the wicked, the weak, the dead:
    Christians stand by God in his hour of suffering.”


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