[verb oh-ver-floh; noun oh-ver-floh]

verb (used without object), o·ver·flowed, o·ver·flown, o·ver·flow·ing.

verb (used with object), o·ver·flowed, o·ver·flown, o·ver·flow·ing.


Origin of overflow

before 900; Middle English overflowen, Old English oferflōwan. See over-, flow
Related formso·ver·flow·a·ble, adjectiveo·ver·flow·ing·ly, adverbun·o·ver·flow·ing, adjective

Synonyms for overflow

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for overflow

Contemporary Examples of overflow

Historical Examples of overflow

  • Whenever he was fresh and full of spirits, he had enough to overflow upon her and every one.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • There was also an outlet to the street to carry off the overflow.

  • He was ladling the pobs into the child's mouth, and scooping the overflow from her chin.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Further, on this day year, the city will overflow once more with wealth and beauty.



  • He was feeding himself ferociously and seemed to overflow with bitterness.


    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for overflow


verb (ˌəʊvəˈfləʊ) -flows or -flowing or -flowed or formerly -flown

to flow or run over (a limit, brim, bank, etc)
to fill or be filled beyond capacity so as to spill or run over
(intr usually foll by with) to be filled with happiness, tears, etc
(tr) to spread or cover over; flood or inundate

noun (ˈəʊvəˌfləʊ)

overflowing matter, esp liquid
any outlet that enables surplus liquid to be discharged or drained off, esp one just below the top of a tank or cistern
the amount by which a limit, capacity, etc, is exceeded
computing a condition that occurs when numeric operations produce results too large to store in the memory space assigned to it
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

Word Origin and History for overflow

Old English oferfleow "to flow across, flood, inundate," also "to flow over (a brim or bank);" see over- + flow (v.). Related: Overflowed; overflowing.


1580s, "act of overflowing," from overflow (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper