past participle of overlie.



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

to lie over or upon, as a covering or stratum.
to smother (an infant) by lying upon it, as in sleep.

Origin of overlie

First recorded in 1125–75, overlie is from the Middle English word overlien, overliggen. See over-, lie2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for overlain

Historical Examples of overlain

  • A soft carpet, overlain with brown linen, is spread from the curbstone into the hall.

    An Outcast

    F. Colburn Adams

  • There was one creature in the crowd that was not to be overlain by the others.

  • The deposits are overlain by several hundred feet of loose, water-bearing sands, through which it is difficult to sink a shaft.

  • They are often overlain by schists and quartzites, or broken through by volcanic masses.

  • The drawn, haggard mask that had overlain her face so many months was dissolved away in an utter unconsciousness.

    The Squirrel-Cage

    Dorothy Canfield

British Dictionary definitions for overlain


verb -lies, -lying, -lay or -lain (tr)

to lie or rest uponCompare overlay
to kill (a baby or newborn animal) by lying upon 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 overlain



late 12c., from over- + lie (v.2), or from an unrecorded Old English *oferlicgan. "In use from 12th to 16th c.; in 17-18th displaced by overlay; reintroduced in 19th c., chiefly in geological use." [OED]. Related: Overlay; overlain.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper