I saw some expression like the following : "I met a design problem in .... ", is it a right usage of the word "meet". It just sounds odd to me. I would rather use "ran into" or "encountered" instead. Any advice ?

4 Answers 4


Met a problem is a right usage of meet:

1. to come upon; come into the presence of; encounter: I would meet him on the street at unexpected moments.

That said, encountered a problem or ran into a problem would be more common. Meet simply sounds more reciprocal, where the other two choices only connote activity on your part. Ngrams shows the following:

  • +1 because nothing you say is untrue. Until you pointed it out I never consciously registered the fact that meeting is normally reciprocal. But don't forget that encounter and run into are also used with exactly the same implied reciprocity when the "object" of the verb is another person. Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 4:21
  • Emphatic +1 for the use of ngrams. Good answer!
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 4:22
  • Nice answer. Not only did I meet a problem, but the problem met me.
    – slim
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 13:08

It is certainly correct to use meet a problem to mean to experience a problem.



I met a problem

sounds a little odd but is perfectly fine. It's metaphorical, an example of personification.

So now you have three choices with different stylistic connotations: - 'met' for metaphorical - 'encountered' is more formal - 'ran in to' is informal (and slightly metaphorical, you problem didn't make physical contact)


"I met a design problem in .... ":
"ran into" or "encountered"
does not make a difference, at least to me, in the meaning conveyed or in sentence construction.

Agreed, the use of meet in such a context may be relatively rare, making it appear out of place. It is not due to a grammatical error. In that sense, it is certainly odd, though not wrong.

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