I'm a non-native speaker, looking for a single term to describe the quality of feeling overwhelmed with a task of work in a person.

I found overchallenged on dict.cc, but when I wanted to look it up on oxforddictionaries.com or merriam-webster, I found no match. Thus, I conclude the term is not commonly used amongst native speakers.

What alternatives are there?

He felt [overchallenged] by having to carry all the bags by himself.

  • 2
    Overwhelmed is more natural for that sentence.
    – The Nate
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 14:25
  • 1
    @TheNate Please post answers as answers, not comments! Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 16:40
  • I like "overwhelmed" but it seems more like word used at the end of an accumulation of problems that finally swamp ones abilities. Here he has "bags"; no history to it. While you can get "overwhelmed" with a heavy bag, it seems too big a word to use. The author's "task" may have many steps that can eventually "overwhelm". I can't think of anything better thou.
    – user116032
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 16:51

8 Answers 8



to load or overload;
"she walked forwards burdened with a wooden box"

cause (someone) worry, hardship, or distress.
"they were not yet burdened with adult responsibility"

Other suggestions: encumbered, overloaded, hampered, weigh down

  • 3
    Along the same lines: "Overburdened" is a word. Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 21:10

You can use the word overtaxed.

Overtaxed verb 2 Make excessive demands on (a person’s strength, abilities, etc.): do athletes overtax their hearts? - ODO


Consider swamped, already mentioned in @Andy_Fielding answer.

Definition: to be plunged into or overwhelmed with something, especially something that keeps one busy, worried, etc.

Example: I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your email. I’m really swamped with work right now.

Also overstrectched.

"overstrecht" definition : to make excessive demands or put excessive pressure on (oneself, finances, etc); overburden.


Those suggestions are good when you're referring to a single task.

When you're referring to multiple tasks, a good word is swamped:

"I can't handle more work this week—I'm already swamped!"

It creates an image of sinking into a swamp, being overwhelmed by water (and maybe crocodiles!).


Consider deluged.

Definition: a large amount of things that come at the same time

Example: he has been deluged with offers of work.


Overworked is a good candidate

(transitive verb) to cause to work too hard, too long, or to exhaustion {overworked the horses}



He felt overworked by having to carry all the bags by himself.


Consider, plowed under

plow under

To overwhelm, as with burdens: was plowed under with work. AHD

To overwhelm someone or something: My teachers have plowed me under with work this week. We were plowed under with dirty laundry. American Heritage Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

To cause to disappear: bury, overwhelm M-W

He felt plowed under by having to carry all the bags by himself.

Also, bogged down

bog down

  1. get stuck while doing something

  2. cause to get stuck as if in a mire MnemonicDictionary



  1. To cause to have difficulty in moving or in accomplishing something; burden: "a hiker encumbered with a heavy pack; a student encumbered with responsibilities."
  2. To hinder or impede the action or performance of: "restrictions that encumber police work."

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