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Idioms about over

Origin of over

First recorded before 900; (adverb, preposition) Middle English; Old English ofer; cognate with Dutch over, German ober; (adjective) Middle English over(e), originally a variant of uver(e) (eastern dialect uver; cf. love), Old English ufera (akin to ofer ), assimilated to the adverb form; akin to Latin super, Greek hypér, Sanskrit upari. See up, hyper-

Other definitions for over (2 of 2)


a prefixal use of over, preposition,adverb, or adjective, occurring in various senses in compounds (overboard; overcoat; overhang; overlap; overlord; overrun; overthrow), and especially employed, with the sense of “over the limit,” “to excess,” “too much,” “too,” to form verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and nouns (overact; overcapitalize; overcrowd; overfull; overmuch; oversupply; overweight), and many others, mostly self-explanatory: a hyphen, which is commonly absent from old or well-established formations, is sometimes used in new coinages or in any words whose component parts it may be desirable to set off distinctly.

Origin of over-

Middle English; Old English ofer-.See over
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does over- mean?

Over– is a prefix meaning “over,” particularly in the sense of “too much,” “over the limit,” or “over (in space).” It is often used in a variety of everyday terms.

Over– comes from Old English ofer-, meaning “over.” Cognates of ofer– in other languages include German über, as in Übermensch; Latin super, as in superego; and Greek hypér, as in hyperactive. Learn more at our entries for uber, super, and hyper.

Examples of over-

One example of a word that features the form over– is overdo, “to do to excess; overindulge in.” Overdo comes from Old English oferdōn, which features the equivalent of over– in that language.

The over– part of the word means “too much,” as we have seen. The do portion of the word means “to perform,” from Old English dōn. Overdo literally means “to perform too much.”

What are some words that use the combining form over-?

What are some other forms that over– may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that begins with the exact letters over-, such as overt, is necessarily using the prefix over– to denote “too much.” Learn why overt means “open to view” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

Given the meaning of the prefix over-, what does overpay literally mean?

How to use over in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for over (1 of 2)

Word Origin for over

Old English ofer; related to Old High German ubir, obar, Old Norse yfir, Latin super, Greek huper

British Dictionary definitions for over (2 of 2)


excessive or excessively; beyond an agreed or desirable limitovercharge; overdue; oversimplify
indicating superior rankoverseer
indicating location or movement aboveoverhang
indicating movement downwardsoverthrow
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with over


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.