simple past tense and past participle of overlay1.


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

verb (used with object), o·ver·laid, o·ver·lay·ing.

to lay or place (one thing) over or upon another.
to cover, overspread, or surmount with something.
to finish with a layer or applied decoration of something: wood richly overlaid with gold.
Printing. to put an overlay upon.


something laid over something else; covering.
a layer or decoration of something applied: an overlay of gold.
  1. a shaped piece of paper, or a sheet of paper reinforced at the proper places by shaped pieces, put on the tympan of a press to increase or equalize the impression.
  2. a method of preparing copy for multicolor printing, in which matter for each color is prepared on a transparent sheet that is placed over a key plate, usually the one to be printed in black.
  3. the sheet or sheets so prepared.
a sheet of transparent paper placed over a photograph, a dummy, or other artwork for noting corrections, instructions, mechanical separations, etc.
Computers. software or data in external storage and brought into main storage for execution by replacing or augmenting software or data already there.
a transparent sheet giving special military information not ordinarily shown on maps, used by being placed over the map on which it is based.
a decorative piece of leather or other material stitched on a shoe.
Scot. a cravat.

Origin of overlay

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at over-, lay1




simple past tense of overlie.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for overlaid

superimpose, plate, coat, glaze, pave, spread, veneer

Examples from the Web for overlaid

Contemporary Examples of overlaid

  • The plaque honoring “la Nueve” speaks to how memory is often overlaid by the hedging of history.

  • The repressiveness of the Burmese junta is overlaid with mysticism that can often border on the bizarre.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Next Nuclear Nightmare

    Philip Shenon

    April 14, 2010

Historical Examples of overlaid

  • They were constructed of ivory and jet, and their capitals were overlaid with the purest gold.


    William Godwin

  • They grow as he grows; they are a kind of composition with which his own philosophy is overlaid.



  • That again got overlaid by the sans-façon of a grande dame of the Second Empire.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

  • But in these days she overlaid her life with gladness and made her house pleasant for her sons.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • The trunks of the birch-trees, the slumbering leaves were overlaid with silver.

British Dictionary definitions for overlaid


verb (ˌəʊvəˈleɪ) -lays, -laying or -laid (tr)

to lay or place something over or upon (something else)
(often foll by with) to cover, overspread, or conceal (with)
(foll by with) to cover (a surface) with an applied decorationebony overlaid with silver
to achieve the correct printing pressure all over (a forme or plate) by adding to the appropriate areas of the packing

noun (ˈəʊvəˌleɪ)

something that is laid over something else; covering
an applied decoration or layer, as of gold leaf
a transparent sheet giving extra details to a map or diagram over which it is designed to be placed
printing material, such as paper, used to overlay a forme or plate
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 overlaid



"to cover the surface of (something)," c.1300, in part from Old English oferlecgan "to place over," also "to overburden," and in part from over- + lay (v.). There also was an overlie in Middle English, but it merged into this word. Similar compounds are found in other Germanic languages, e.g. Gothic ufarlagjan. Related: Overlaid; overlaying.



in the printing sense, 1824, from overlay (v.). Meaning "transparent sheet over a map, chart, etc." is from 1938. In earliest noun use it meant "a necktie" (1725).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper