[verb oh-ver-look; noun oh-ver-look]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to fail to notice, perceive, or consider: to overlook a misspelled word.
  2. to disregard or ignore indulgently, as faults or misconduct: Only a parent could overlook that kind of behavior.
  3. to look over, as from a higher position: a balcony that overlooks the ballroom.
  4. to afford a view over; look down or out upon: a hill overlooking the sea.
  5. to rise above: The Washington Monument overlooks the tidal basin.
  6. to excuse; pardon: a minor infraction we can overlook this time.
  7. to look over in inspection, examination, or perusal: They allowed us to overlook the proposed contract.
  8. to look after, oversee, or supervise: She has to overlook a large number of employees.
  9. Archaic. to look upon with the evil eye; bewitch.
  1. terrain, as on a cliff, that affords an attractive vista or a good view: Miles of landscape could be seen from the overlook.

Origin of overlook

Middle English word dating back to 1325–75; see origin at over-, look
Related formsun·o·ver·looked, adjective
Can be confusedoverlook oversee oversight

Synonyms for overlook

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1. miss. See slight.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for overlook

Contemporary Examples of overlook

Historical Examples of overlook

  • Our friend will overlook the matter if you do but say that you have acted in heat and haste.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • You might overlook the most important part of my paraphernalia; and really I am not damaged.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • It'll be an advantage if she is Irish, but I'll overlook it if she isn't.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • From the hill, we could overlook the river, and the adjacent country.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • He would prize the jewel, and overlook the inferiority of the casket.

British Dictionary definitions for overlook


verb (ˌəʊvəˈlʊk) (tr)
  1. to fail to notice or take into account
  2. to disregard deliberately or indulgently
  3. to look at or over from abovethe garden is overlooked by the prison
  4. to afford a view of from abovethe house overlooks the bay
  5. to rise above
  6. to look after
  7. to look at carefully
  8. to bewitch or cast the evil eye upon (someone)
noun (ˈəʊvəˌlʊk) US
  1. a high place affording a view
  2. an act of overlooking
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 overlook

mid-14c., "to examine, scrutinize, inspect," from over- + look (v.). Another Middle English sense was "to peer over the top of." These two literal senses have given rise to the two main modern meanings. Meaning "to look over or beyond and thus not see," via notion of "to choose to not notice" is first recorded 1520s. Seemingly contradictory sense of "to watch over officially, keep an eye on, superintend" is from 1530s. Related: Overlooked; overlooking. In Shekaspeare's day, overlooking also was a common term for "inflicting the evil eye on" (someone or something).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper