I was in my English practice time when I saw the verb 'to engulf'. I didn’t know its meaning, so I looked it up, and I found this:

"If an unpleasant feeling engulfs you, you feel it very strongly" Syn: overcome
"To completely surround or cover something"
– Longman exams coach

"To surround and cover something or someone completely
Cambridge Dictionary

So, with these definitions in mind, I headed to the text I was reading to understand its meaning inside a proper context. The sentence was:

It’s a simple question that has consumed many Australians since the nation’s cricket team was engulfed in a cheating scandal in South Africa.

From what I could understand, to be engulfed in means to be covered or surrounded by something, but I can’t seem to grasp it inside this sentence. Was the team sorrounded by the news of having cheated? Could this be understood this way or does it have another meaning?

  • You need to have a mental image of "engulf". You're out walking along the beach when suddenly waves come at you from all directions, leaving you struggling to just keep your head above water. Or you're engulfed in flames -- running through a burning building with flames all around you, having to leap through a wall of flame with your clothes already on fire. It's not just "surrounded" or "covered", it's SURROUNDED and COVERED.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 29, 2018 at 1:21
  • engulf: to take over a person or thing completely.
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:42

4 Answers 4


Your interpretation of engulfed in this context is essentially correct. If you read accounts of the ball-tampering scandal on, say, BBC Sports, this particular news has surrounded the team to such an extent that no other news of the team gets reported, such as game scores, individual performances and the like.

  • The team was immersed in a cheating scandal Mar 28, 2018 at 14:07
  • Immersed is not as intense as engulfed. You can, for example, immerse yourself in a warm bath and emerge later, clean and refreshed. An engulfment is usually one-way.
    – user205876
    Mar 28, 2018 at 14:48

If you imagine being in the waters, say, of a natural, geographic gulf, you can also imagine a pervasive feeling that stimulates while at the same time which neutralizes all bodily as well a emotional senses. So it could be with a team embroiled (which would have been my word choice since team and fan senses would not be neutralized) in a cheating scandal.


If you had dug a little deeper, you would have found that Collins English Dictionary defines engulf as “overwhelm”, which it, in turns, defines as:

to weigh or rest upon overpoweringly

and, if you understand the secondary (non-literal) meanings of “weigh” and “rest”, you’ll understand what “engulf” means in your example sentence.


using the KISS principal drown seems appropriate. TFD

To deaden one's awareness of; blot out:

As in:

The team was drowned by the news of their cheating!

X is drowning in Y: in this use of drown, Y is usually bad or inimical. Usually one would not drown in good news, unless a liberal use of a bubbly libation was overly involved.

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