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[oh-ver-shad-oh] /ˌoʊ vərˈʃæd oʊ/
verb (used with object)
to be more important or significant by comparison:
For years he overshadowed his brother.
to cast a shadow over; cover with shadows, clouds, darkness, etc.; darken or obscure:
clouds overshadowing the moon.
to make sad or hang heavily over; cast a pall on:
a disappointment that overshadowed their last years.
Archaic. to shelter or protect.
Origin of overshadow
before 900; Middle English overshadewen, Old English ofersceadwian. See over-, shadow
Related forms
overshadower, noun
overshadowingly, adverb
1. eclipse, outshine, dwarf. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for overshadow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.

  • There are phases in which something seems to overshadow the scene.

    In Mesopotamia Martin Swayne
  • He allowed no thought of personal safety or success to overshadow the truth.

    History of Education Levi Seeley
  • Nor is it the Sanctuary alone they overshadow with their wings of light.

    Memories of Bethany John Ross Macduff
  • “My own experience does not overshadow my judgment entirely, I hope,” said Algitha.

British Dictionary definitions for overshadow


verb (transitive)
to render insignificant or less important in comparison
to cast a shadow or gloom over
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 overshadow

Old English ofersceadwian "to cast a shadow over, obscure;" see over + shadow (v.). It was used to render Latin obumbrare in New Testament, as were Middle High German überschatewen, Middle Dutch overschaduwen, Gothic ufarskadwjan. Figurative sense is from 1580s. Related: Overshadowed; overshadowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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