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[adverb oh-ver-hed; adjective, noun oh-ver-hed] /adverb ˈoʊ vərˈhɛd; adjective, noun ˈoʊ vərˌhɛd/
over one's head; aloft; up in the air or sky, especially near the zenith:
There was a cloud overhead.
so as to be completely submerged or deeply involved:
to plunge overhead in water; to sink overhead in debt.
situated, operating, or passing above, aloft, or over the head:
an overhead sprinkler system.
of or relating to the general cost of running a business:
overhead expenses; an overhead charge.
the general, fixed cost of running a business, as rent, lighting, and heating expenses, which cannot be charged or attributed to a specific product or part of the work operation.
Accounting. that part of manufacturing costs for which cost per unit produced is not readily assignable.
(in a hoistway) the distance between the last floor level served and the beam supporting the hoisting sheaves or machinery.
(in racket sports) a stroke in which the ball or shuttlecock is hit with a downward motion from above the head; smash.
an overhead compartment, shelf, etc.:
Pillows are in the overhead above each passenger's seat.
Also called overhead shot. Movies, Television. a shot in which the camera is positioned above the actors, especially directly overhead.
a ceiling light in a room:
Turn off the overheads when you leave.
Also called overhead projector. a projector capable of projecting images above and behind the person operating it, thus allowing a lecturer or speaker to remain facing the audience while using it.
Also called overhead projection. a picture or image projected in this manner:
a lecture enhanced with overheads.
Origin of overhead
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1425-75; See origin at over-, head
Related forms
nonoverhead, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for overhead


adjective (ˈəʊvəˌhɛd)
situated or operating above head height or some other reference level
(prenominal) inclusive: the overhead price included meals
adverb (ˌəʊvəˈhɛd)
over or above head height, esp in the sky
noun (ˈəʊvəˌhɛd)
  1. a stroke in racket games played from above head height
  2. (as modifier): an overhead smash
(nautical) the interior lining above one's head below decks in a vessel
short for overhead door
(modifier) of, concerned with, or resulting from overheads: overhead costs
See also overheads
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for overhead

1530s, "above one's head" (adv.), from over- + head. The adjective is attested from 1874. As a noun, short for overhead costs, etc., it is attested from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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overhead in Culture

overhead definition

All costs of running a business other than wages paid to production workers or payments for raw material to be used in production. Overhead includes the cost of renting or leasing a store in which business is transacted, the cost of heating a factory, and similar expenses.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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