Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD] This is usually passive (with the verb ‘be’ and a past participle – ‘overcome’) and basically it means to to be full of emotion, or to feel very strong emotions, like grief, curiosity, fear, sadness, regret, remorse or joy.


Hello, everyone. You’re listening to “Phrasal Verb a Day”. My name is Luke Thompson. This is the episode number 105. It’s been a while since I did the last one, but as I have said many times before on this podcast, “A Phrasal Verb a Day” is still going even if I’m not doing them every single day. This episode is all about the phrase TO BE OVERCOME WITH something, to be overcome with something, so we start with “be” there. Unlike, you know, most of the other phrasal verbs in this series, this one begins with “be” because it’s usually passive, okay? Usually it’s used in the passive form. That’s why you’ve got “be” at the beginning. And you’ll end up with, you know, the verb “be” in various forms – IS, WAS, WERE, COULD BE, HAS TO BE…things like that, okay? So…, TO BE OVERCOME WITH something. Here we’re talking about emotions and feelings. Okay? Now, it means that an emotion or a feeling completely comes over you. TO OVERCOME YOU means to be…, means to completely cover you or to come over you completely. Imagine a strong emotion like, for example, grief – you know, the emotion that you feel when someone that you love has died. That emotion is called “grief”. And the feeling that you have when you experience grief is that that emotion comes over you completely. So you end up sort of full of these emotions. I would say you end up covered in the emotion, but to be honest we never say “covered in emotion”. We would say “full of emotion” or “full of grief” or TO BE OVERCOME WITH emotion or TO BE OVERCOME WITH grief. Okay. So, that was the first one we‘re looking at. It basically means “to feel a very strong emotion”.
For example, you know, “when their dog died, the whole family was overcome with grief.” Okay? “They loved their dog very much and unfortunately their dog was killed and the whole family was overcome with grief. And then they bought a new dog.” So TO BE OVERCOME WITH grief. All right? There’s one. Now, there’re a number of different nouns that we can use as objects with this phrase TO BE OVERCOME WITH something. I said TO BE OVERCOME WITH emotion, TO BE OVERCOME WITH grief. You can also BE OVERCOME WITH curiosity. Okay? For example, “I was on the train and there was a beautiful woman – a very mysterious-looking woman, sitting opposite me. And she was on the phone, and I couldn’t help overhearing what she was saying. And it sounded like she was talking about some sort of mysterious mission that she had to do – like a spy mission. I just became overcome…I became OVERCOME WITH curiosity and ended up listening in to the phone call.” The rest of that is another story for another time but I became OVERCOME WITH curiosity or I was OVERCOME WITH curiosity, you could say. I GOT OVERCOME WITH curiosity? You might say that as well. So curiosity, emotion, gratitude. I WAS OVERCOME WITH gratitude. When everyone bought me a present on my birthday, I WAS OVERCOME WITH gratitude. TO BE OVERCOME WITH. OVERCOME WITH joy, OVERCOME WITH remorse. TO BE OVERCOME WITH remorse. You know, like, it could be, “a couple of months after I broke up with my girlfriend, I saw her walking down the street with another guy and she seemed so happy and I immediately WAS OVERCOME WITH a great feeling of remorse.” Sort of like.. “Oh my God! Why did I ever break up with her? I was an idiot.” For example, I WAS OVERCOME WITH shame. You know, like, when, for example, “I was standing at the bus stop and I raised my hand for the bus to come. And when I did that, my trousers fell down and everyone saw me and laughed and I WAS OVERCOME WITH shame or embarrassment.” Slightly stupid example, but I think you understand it. Another one would be TO BE OVERCOME WITH shyness. For example, you know, ah “I’ve just got a crush on this girl in the office. And it’s just really awkward. I don’t know why but whenever I speak to her, I’m just OVERCOME WITH shyness and I can’t get my words out and it’s really embarrassing, and I’m sure that she thinks I’m a total loser because every time I speak to her, I’m OVERCOME WITH shyness.” Okay? So, there we go.

Now, if we just have a quick look on Google again, and I recommend you do this from time to time. My approach is to put the phrase OVERCOME WITH in inverted commas – ” “, the whole thing in speech marks, do a Google search, and select the news option and you’ll see a number of different news stories that use that phrase in particular. So, let’s have a look. The Daily Mail newspaper have this story. “Sheridan Smith honored with an OBE by Prince William.”
So, someone called Sheridan Smith was given a special honour or an award by Prince William and the line goes like this: “Looking lovely in dot a patterned dress as she revealed that she was overcome with emotion during the Buckingham Palace ceremony…” So, Sheridan Smith was OVERCOME WITH emotion when she met Prince William for example. Sheridan Smith is an actress from the TV show Gavin & Stacey, if you know that.
Another one from the Daily Mail here, which said “man stuck in storm drain for four days is OVERCOME WITH joy when he was finally discovered”. So, a man was stuck in a drain, like in a hole in the ground, for four days, and when he was finally discovered and released, he was OVERCOME WITH joy and it says, “Williams said the man stocked in the drain was OVERCOME WITH joy when he was finally discovered. He said ‘Praise God. Thank you. I’ve been rescued'”.
Mother and daughter fighting for their lives in hospital. The family is OVERCOME WITH grief. Okay?
Phobias in children could be OVERCOME WITH help of something. That’s a slightly different use. To OVERCOME something, not to be OVERCOME BY something, but to, not… sorry, not to be OVERCOME WITH a feeling, but to OVERCOME something, can mean to get over something, for example, if you got an illness, you can OVERCOME it, okay? Or if you have a phobia, you can OVERCOME it. So, phobias in children could be OVERCOME with special psychological help, you can see that’s a slightly different example.
So, let me just sum up. To be OVERCOME WITH something and that’s usually an emotion of some sort, just means that you fully experience or you’re full of that emotion, to be OVERCOME WITH fear, grief, curiosity, remorse. Okay?

That’s the end of this episode of A Phrasal Verb a Day. Oh, that’s seven and half minutes. It’s a bit longer than normal. That’s it! Don’t forget to tell your friends about “A Phrasal Verb a Day”. Share it. Share it with people that you know who are learning English, because I think you’ll agree, this is quite a stunning bits of online teaching… I don’t know how to end that sentence, it’s a stunning bit of online teaching… what…? resource?, you can’t say, ‘a bit of resource’. That doesn’t work, it’s a stunning resource for those who are learning English as a second or foreign language, I think you’ll agree. That’s the end. Eight minutes. Thanks for listening. Speak to you soon. Bye.

  • Thanks Luke, I have never heard about it before! Please don’t go off this podcast: I know it could be boring sometimes for you, but it is very useful for me (and I reckon for other non-native speakers of English like me). So please don’t call it off! Cheers, Francesco.