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[oh-ver-pley] /ˌoʊ vərˈpleɪ/
verb (used with object)
to exaggerate or overemphasize (one's role in a play, an emotion, an effect, etc.):
The young actor overplayed Hamlet shamelessly. The director of the movie had overplayed the pathos.
to put too much stress on the value or importance of:
A charitable biographer had overplayed the man's piety and benevolence.
Cards. to overestimate the strength of (the cards in one's hand) with consequent loss.
Golf. to hit (the ball) past the putting green.
Archaic. outplay.
verb (used without object)
to exaggerate one's part, an effect, etc.; overact:
Without a firm director she invariably overplays.
Origin of overplay
First recorded in 1640-50; over- + play Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for overplay
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We scold it caressingly, as one reproves the overplay of a gracious child.

    From the Oak to the Olive Julia Ward Howe
  • "Some day, though, he'll overplay his game," Benito prophesied.

    Port O' Gold

    Louis John Stellman
  • She was not fool enough to overplay her hand, so her greeting was still disdainful, but when he tarried she did not send him away.

    The Roof Tree Charles Neville Buck
  • Even with such a negligible quantity as a deserted husband, it is a mistake to overplay the part.

    The Far Horizon Lucas Malet
British Dictionary definitions for overplay


(transitive) to exaggerate the importance of
another word for overact
overplay one's hand, to overestimate the worth or strength of one's position
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 overplay

"to emphasize (something) too much," 1933, a metaphor from card games, in to overplay (one's) hand, "to spoil one's hand by bidding in excess of its value" (1926), from over- + play (v.). The word was used earlier in a theatrical sense. Related: Overplayed; overplaying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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