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Does the state of being overwhelmed actually tend to express physical or emotional fatigue? or it could be both?

closed as off-topic by Alejandro, user3169, Nathan Tuggy, Jim Reynolds, ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq Feb 7 '16 at 4:29

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  • "Basic questions on spelling, meaning or pronunciation are off-topic as they should be answered using a dictionary. See: Policy for questions that are entirely answerable with a dictionary" – Alejandro, Jim Reynolds, ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq
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  • Have you checked any dictionaries? If not, please take a look and see if your question can be answered that way first. See our help pages under "Asking." – Jim Reynolds Feb 7 '16 at 4:27
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    It could be used to express either one, but I think it's most often associated with mental stress. – J.R. Feb 7 '16 at 19:22
  • @JimReynolds: Have you tried to analyze this case using my perspective as a non-native speaker? Thank you! – Student Feb 9 '16 at 2:45
  • @Student - I agree with Jim. This question at least needs some mention of what you found in the dictionary. This dictionary shows at least two different usages, as does this one. So, clearly, the answer to your "Could it be both?" question is: Yes, it could be both. – J.R. Feb 10 '16 at 9:35
  • @J.R. Pardon me, are you a linguistic? – Student Feb 15 '16 at 2:11
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If you're referring to a cause - effect relationship, i.e.: "suffering fatigue or feeling worn out as a result of having been overwhelmed by something or someone", then being overwhelmed expresses both a physical condition and a psychological one.

Indeed, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, the verb overwhelm has different meanings:

  • as referred to a physical condition, as a synonym of to defeat:

    to ​defeat someone or something by using a lot of ​force: Government ​troops have overwhelmed the ​rebels and ​seized ​control of the ​capital.

    Also, from Urban Dictionary:

    being drunk; drinking: Last night i was overwhelmed.

  • As referred to an emotive condition, with the verb mainly used at its passive form (to be overwhelmed):

    to ​cause someone to ​feel​ sudden ​strong ​emotion: They were overwhelmed with/by ​grief when ​their​baby ​died.

    With the same meaning of the verb (used as an adjective), there's a sentence in one of the masterpieces of the LA progressive rock band Tool, Roseta Stoned, that says:

    «Overwhelmed as one would be placed in my position
    Such a heavy burden now to be the one»,

    but you should listen to the song to find out why he's feeling this way ( ;) ).

  • A third, literal, meaning (not normally used to refer to a human condition) is related to the action of water:

    If ​water overwhelms a ​place, it ​covers it ​suddenly and ​completely.

    This is more related to the etymology of the verb:

    early 14c., "to turn upside down, to overthrow," from over- + Middle English whelmen "to turn upside down" (see whelm). Meaning "to submerge completely" is mid-15c. Perhaps the connecting notion is a boat, etc., washed over, and overset, by a big wave. Figurative sense of "to bring to ruin" is attested from 1520s.

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