[ adverb oh-ver-hed; adjective, noun oh-ver-hed ]
See synonyms for overhead on Thesaurus.com
  1. over one's head; aloft; up in the air or sky, especially near the zenith: There was a cloud overhead.

  2. so as to be completely submerged or deeply involved: to plunge overhead in water; to sink overhead in debt.

  1. situated, operating, or passing above, aloft, or over the head: an overhead sprinkler system.

  2. of or relating to the general cost of running a business: overhead expenses; an overhead charge.

  1. the general, fixed cost of running a business, as rent, lighting, and heating expenses, which cannot be charged or attributed to a specific product or part of the work operation.

  2. Accounting. that part of manufacturing costs for which cost per unit produced is not readily assignable.

  1. (in a hoistway) the distance between the last floor level served and the beam supporting the hoisting sheaves or machinery.

  2. (in racket sports) a stroke in which the ball or shuttlecock is hit with a downward motion from above the head; smash.

  3. an overhead compartment, shelf, etc.: Pillows are in the overhead above each passenger's seat.

  4. Also called overhead shot .Movies, Television. a shot in which the camera is positioned above the actors, especially directly overhead.

  5. a ceiling light in a room: Turn off the overheads when you leave.

  6. Also called overhead projector. a projector capable of projecting images above and behind the person operating it, thus allowing a lecturer or speaker to remain facing the audience while using it.

  7. Also called overhead projection. a picture or image projected in this manner: a lecture enhanced with overheads.

Origin of overhead

late Middle English word dating back to 1425–75; see origin at over-, head

Other words from overhead

  • non·o·ver·head, noun, adjective

Words Nearby overhead

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use overhead in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for overhead


  1. situated or operating above head height or some other reference level

  2. (prenominal) inclusive: the overhead price included meals

  1. over or above head height, esp in the sky

    • a stroke in racket games played from above head height

    • (as modifier): an overhead smash

  1. nautical the interior lining above one's head below decks in a vessel

  1. short for overhead door

  2. (modifier) of, concerned with, or resulting from overheads: overhead costs

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

Cultural definitions for overhead


All costs of running a business other than wages paid to production workers or payments for raw material to be used in production. Overhead includes the cost of renting or leasing a store in which business is transacted, the cost of heating a factory, and similar expenses.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.