[verb oh-ver-floh; noun oh-ver-floh]
See more synonyms for overflow on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), o·ver·flowed, o·ver·flown, o·ver·flow·ing.
  1. to flow or run over, as rivers or water: After the thaw, the river overflows and causes great damage.
  2. to have the contents flowing over or spilling, as an overfull container: Stop pouring or your glass is going to overflow.
  3. to pass from one place or part to another as if flowing from an overfull space: The population overflowed into the adjoining territory.
  4. to be filled or supplied with in great measure: a heart overflowing with gratitude; a region overflowing with orchards and vineyards.
verb (used with object), o·ver·flowed, o·ver·flown, o·ver·flow·ing.
  1. to flow over; flood; inundate: The river overflowed several farms.
  2. to flow over or beyond (the brim, banks, borders, etc.).
  3. to cause to overflow.
  4. to flow over the edge or brim of (a receptacle, container, etc.).
  5. to fill to the point of running over.
  1. an overflowing: the annual overflow of the Nile.
  2. something that flows or runs over: to carry off the overflow from a fountain.
  3. a portion crowded out of an overfilled place: to house the overflow of the museum's collection in another building.
  4. an excess or superabundance: an overflow of applicants for the job.
  5. an outlet or receptacle for excess liquid: The tank is equipped with an overflow.

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

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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
  1. to flow or run over (a limit, brim, bank, etc)
  2. to fill or be filled beyond capacity so as to spill or run over
  3. (intr usually foll by with) to be filled with happiness, tears, etc
  4. (tr) to spread or cover over; flood or inundate
noun (ˈəʊvəˌfləʊ)
  1. overflowing matter, esp liquid
  2. any outlet that enables surplus liquid to be discharged or drained off, esp one just below the top of a tank or cistern
  3. the amount by which a limit, capacity, etc, is exceeded
  4. 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