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See more synonyms for overlying on Thesaurus.com
  1. present participle of overlie.
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verb (used with object), o·ver·lay, o·ver·lain, o·ver·ly·ing.
  1. to lie over or upon, as a covering or stratum.
  2. to smother (an infant) by lying upon it, as in sleep.
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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. 2018

Related Words for overlying

first-rate, remarkable, exceptional, admirable, good, superhuman, preferable, exclusive, major, premium, expert, dandy, over, primary, choice, above, capital, senior, fine, extending

Examples from the Web for overlying

Historical Examples of overlying

  • The red of nature had come into her cheeks and fought there with the overlying hue of art.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • Light was in his face, overlying the flush of simple passions.

    Rose MacLeod

    Alice Brown

  • The water, as it plunges down, undermines the overlying rock.

  • They are of older date than the overlying and undisturbed coal-measures.

  • And no proof has been made from the nature or depth of the overlying deposits.

British Dictionary definitions for overlying


verb -lies, -lying, -lay or -lain (tr)
  1. to lie or rest uponCompare overlay
  2. to kill (a baby or newborn animal) by lying upon it
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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 overlying



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper