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

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


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 overlaying

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

Examples from the Web for overlaying

Contemporary Examples of overlaying

Historical Examples of overlaying

  • The overlaying of silver by antimony is their particular craft.

    In Mesopotamia

    Martin Swayne

  • Veneering may therefore be comprehensively described as overlaying or inlaying one body with portions of another.

    Chats on Old Clocks

    Arthur Hayden

  • It would be explained by the Phnician overlaying of wood-work with beaten bronze, or, to speak more correctly, with copper.

    History of Ancient Art

    Franz von Reber

  • Dipoinos and Skyllis still only in part covered the carved core of wood, and restricted this overlaying to ivory.

    History of Ancient Art

    Franz von Reber

  • It is composed of a black vegetable mould of a foot to two feet in depth, overlaying a hard yellow clay.

British Dictionary definitions for overlaying


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 overlaying



"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